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Outspoken Impress Department for Transport

As part of a visit to the newly formed Bikeability Trust, Rupert Furness (Head of Cycling and Walking), Richard Mace, Peter Duggan and Meriel Smith from the Department for Transport, popped in to observe an Outspoken Bikeability Level 2 session in Cambridge delivered on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council. 

Rupert Furness wrote the following blog about his experience:

I had, of course, heard all about Bikeability and seen plenty of excellent photographs of smiling children doing their training since starting this job in June. My own son had also done his Bikeability level 1 and 2 training earlier this year, and had been very positive about the experience. So, I was keen to see for myself what an actual training session looked and felt like, and delighted to find myself standing beside the Victoria Road in Cambridge on a slightly grey and cool mid-September day watching a dozen or so year 5 pupils from St Luke’s Primary School doing their Level 2 training. So, what were my main impressions?

First, that this was not simply a quiet residential street, but actually a pretty busy road with a serious amount of traffic on it, including buses and HGVs. This was a very long way from the playground-based training that I had a mental image of.

Second, I was struck by the impressive amount of personal responsibility the children were given. It was up to them to decide when it was safe to pull away and cycle the 100 yards or so along the main road before performing a left turn onto a minor road. It was also up to them to assert their control over the situation, assuming a confident road position and forcing the traffic behind to take note of them.

Third, I was surprised by just how confidently the children were prepared to take up a controlling road position in the middle of the lane, rather than timidly sticking as close as possible to the pavement with all the drain covers, detritus and other hazards that this entails. This was all the more striking given that this was a relatively young cohort, with most of them only 9 years old.

Fourth, it was great to see that they were clearly and genuinely enjoying the experience, and I’m sure this wasn’t just because it was a chance to miss normal lessons. There were lots of smiles and a real keenness to get on their bikes and do the practical stuff, and I’m sure it will have helped instil a desire to get the bikes out at home. This is of great credit to the trainers who were very impressive throughout. 

And finally, I’d forgotten just how great it is to be out on a bike in Cambridge. I was lucky enough to be a student there in the late 1980s, and spent many hours cycling to and from the Sidgwick site on my battered old Raleigh bike. Some of the new cycle infrastructure was seriously impressive, including the automatic bike “counter” with its totaliser showing how many bikes have come past that day, and the zebra crossing for bikes on the Huntingdon Road.

So, a big thank you to Kieron McNab from Outspoken and Paul Robison from the Bikeability Trust for a really enjoyable and memorable day, which left me with some really positive impressions of the Bikeability programme.

More information on Outspoken's school cycle training can be found on our Bikeability web page

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