On the 9th of January, Wera Hobhouse MP welcomed The Bikeability Trust to Parliament to discuss ways to encourage cycling in children and adults across the country. 

Mrs Hobhouse met with Emily Cherry, the CEO of The Bikeability Trust, following the Prime Minister’s decision to scrap anti-car measures towards the end of last year. Last September, Rishi Sunak set out plans to prioritise drivers on the road at the expense of cyclists and pedestrians. In light of this, the Bath MP spoke with Emily Cherry to discuss ways to encourage more people to take up cycling. 

Bikeability is the Department for Transport’s flagship national cycle training programme. It provides expert cycle training to school children across England, aiming to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn how to cycle confidently and independently on the roads. 

Bikeability has provided a particularly successful training programme in Bath alongside the Bath & North East Somerset Council, training over 850 children last year. However, there are still signs in Bath that children are struggling to develop their cycling skills following the lack of training available during the pandemic. 

While Bikeability is well known for providing vital cycle training for school children, with more than four million having received the training since the programme began in 2007, the Trust’s professional instructors can also run one-to-one cycle courses for adults and families. The Bath MP discussed the challenges of encouraging adults to take up cycling later in life. Emily Cherry noted that the numbers of adults learning to cycle are particularly curtailed owing to the absence of coordinated funding from the Department of Transport. 

In addition to the lack of funding to encourage cycling amongst adults, there are also many socioeconomic barriers to cycling. To combat this and make cycling accessible to all, Bikeability has championed schemes offering cycle training for underrepresented groups including women and those with special educational needs and disabilities

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP and spokesperson for Transport, commented:  “It is not always possible for children to be taught how to confidently and safely ride a bike by their parents. That is why programmes such as those provided by Bikeability are incredibly vital. Schools must offer support to all children to teach them to cycle from an early age. 

“Being able to cycle is not only an essential life skill, but it is also a cheaper way to travel. It reduces the cost on our pockets, as well as the planet, lessening carbon emissions. It is deeply frustrating to see the Prime Minister fail to recognise the importance of cycling by pedalling back on active travel plans for the coming years.” 

 Emily Cherry, CEO of The Bikeability Trust commented: "We are on a mission to ensure no child leaves school without the knowledge, confidence and opportunity to cycle, but we know there is more to do. Cycling improves physical and mental health, develops confidence and enables sustainable transport choices.

"We need the government to support long term funding for cycle training, helping children, adults and families to choose cycling."