What is Bikeability?

Bikeability is ‘cycling proficiency’ for the 21st century, designed to give the next generation the skills and confidence to ride their bikes on today’s roads.

There are three Bikeability levels. A child will typically start Level 1 Bikeability lessons aged seven or eight. Ten or eleven year olds progress through to Level 2 (basic on-road training on quiet roads). Older children (eleven to eighteen) move on to Level 3 on busier roads. Certificates and enamel badges for each level are awarded to children who successfully complete each course and children are encouraged and inspired to achieve all three levels, recognising that there is always more to learn and to enjoy on a bike.

Bikeability was developed by more than 20 professional organisations including the Royal Society for Prevention against Accidents and is supported by cross-Government departments including the Department for Transport, Department of Health and Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Most counties in England have decided to follow the Bikeability scheme and are eligible to receive funds to help with the cost of teaching Bikeability. Some counties still steadfastly stick to Cycling Proficiency, which delivers a less comprehensive cycling course, preferring to use volunteers to teach, rather than professionally trained Bikeability Cycling Instructors.

So far, more than 250,000 young cyclists have been trained and hundreds of thousands of coveted Bikeability badges have been awarded. The ultimate vision is that no child should leave primary school without the opportunity to take part in Bikeability training.

Most parents today will remember the Cycling Proficiency test. I bet you still have your little triangular badge stored safely somewhere! So how did we get from Cycling Proficiency to Bikeability?

  • 1930's Cycling Proficiency was created in response to the increasing volume of traffic in the UK
  • Late 1940's Cycling Proficiency adopted by the government, who asked safety charity, Rospa, to co-ordinate it.
  • 1950-1974 Cycling Proficiency training carried out by local police and parent volunteers, mainly in school playgrounds.
  • 1975-2000 No national standard existed, leading to a wide diversity in what was being taught
  • 2000 The CTC (Cyclists' Touring Club) led a review of cycle training
  • 2004 Launch of the child National Standard for cycle training
  • 2006 Cycling England launched Bikeability (the new cycling proficiency for the 21st Century) as the Award Scheme for cyclists trained to the National Standards. Bikeability is much more relevant to today's traffic conditions.
  • 2007 to present day Bikeability training is delivered by National Standards Instructors throughout the UK

Bikeability Level 1

Off-road Cycle Training for Trainees aged 7 years+

The training follows the Bikeability Level 1 syllabus and is held off-road, in a school playground. Ideal for those aged 7 and over who can ride without stabilisers, but who would like to learn new skills and gain confidence. The course includes helmet and bike checks, starting and stopping, gears, emergency stops, looking behind, signalling and manoeuvring skills.

Bikeability Level 2

On-Road Cycle Training for Trainees aged 9 years+

This course is aimed at participants who have achieved Bikeability Level 1. The training follows the Bikeability Level 2 syllabus and is entirely on-road. The course covers starting from the side of a road, passing parked cars and side roads, appropriate road positioning, various turns from major to minor roads/or vice versa. The course also includes discussions about cycle lanes & highway code and may include roundabouts and negotiating road narrowings.

Bikeability Level 3

Advanced On-Road Cycle Training for Trainees aged 11 years+ or adults

This course is aimed at participants who have achieved Bikeability Level 1 and Level 2 and are proficient cyclists with a good road awareness. The training follows the Bikeability Level 3 syllabus and is entirely on-road. This course aims to teach participants how to deal with hazards and plan a route for safer cycling. It also helps cyclists deal with more challenging road conditions such as roundabouts, filter lanes, traffic lights and busier roads.