A report released today (7th June 2023) by the National Audit Office (NAO) has shown that the government is “not on track” to deliver on its commitment to boost the number of children receiving cycle training. In 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) published Gear Change: A bold vision for cycling and walking, which committed to expand cycle training as one of the behavioural interventions to promote confidence and skills in cycling. However, the National Audit Office has found that DfT has not expanded the Bikeability training offer as intended, due to government cuts. The proportion of children outside London who have completed basic road training by the time they leave primary school will need to increase by around two-thirds (from around 50% to 80%) for government to deliver its Gear Change commitment.
The National Audit Office report highlights that cycle training is an important behavioural intervention to develop cycle skills and confidence, and that more needs to be done to increase the proportion of children receiving training. However, the report finds that funding to support the expansion of Bikeability training is uncertain following government’s reduction in dedicated active travel spending for 2023–24.
Emily Cherry, Chief Executive of the Bikeability Trust, said:
“The National Audit Office report highlights that right now, only half of children outside London have completed Bikeability cycle training by the time they leave primary school. That means only half of our nation’s children are being given the skills and confidence they need to make more sustainable transport choices for the rest of their lives. At a time when climate change is rising up the political agenda faster than ever before, it is imperative that the government delivers on its manifesto pledge to offer Bikeability cycle training to every child.
“This report is a warning sign that we are failing to equip our children with the skills they need to live a greener, healthier and happier life. We know that children who receive Bikeability are safer cyclists because of our teaching. We urge the government to take this opportunity to respond with a refreshed commitment to long-term funding for active travel, and to ensure that no child leaves school without the knowledge, confidence and opportunity to cycle.”
The Bikeability Trust has joined other members of the Walking and Cycling Alliance calling for long-term and ring-fenced investment in active travel, and for the government to publish its own evidence for the funding required to achieve its objectives for 2025 and 2030 targets.