Everyone should be given the opportunity to learn how to cycle. At Bikeability, we strive to find innovative and creative ways to offer cycle training to all children. In 2021, we developed more ways to reach every child. We teamed up with Wheels for All centres to improve access to adapted cycles and worked with community groups to offer cycle training to families in the school holidays.
• Funded 2100 children with SEND to take part in Bikeability, via the Innovation Fund
• Invested additional funding to remove further barriers to cycle training with the Widening Participation Fund
• Developed our use of data to show us which children are missing out on training. Rider characteristics allow us to identify how many children with SEND or who receive free school meals are accessing Bikeability
• Revised our Tools for Schools materials to ensure they were more accessible for children with SEND
Kerry McCarthy MP visited a local SEND session at Bristol Family Cycling Centre, during Bike to School Week. Bristol City Council received almost £15,000 from the Innovation Fund to help more SEND riders to participate in Bikeability through intensive coaching support in smaller groups.
Stories from the Innovation Fund
The Innovation Fund was created to address the low take up of Bikeability by children and young people who are identified as having Special Educational Needs and/or a disability. £275,000 was invested into Innovation Fund projects in 2021.
Sabrin has severe hearing loss and wears two hearing aids. Despite being sporty, Sabrin had no experience of cycling before she attended the Bikeability course.
She was very quick to gain good gliding skills on the balance bike and was quickly able to ride the two-wheel cycle. The instructors were very encouraging, using humour and accessible language that she could understand. This helped Sabrin successfully complete her Level 1 and Level 2 Bikeability.
Faith has profound deafness and uses two cochlear implants. She also has physical issues around balance and core strength. Before attending the Bikeability course, she had only ever ridden her cycle at home with stabilisers.
Faith started the course on a balance bike to develop her balancing and gliding skills. At first, she found it very challenging. To help Faith gain confidence, instructors let her try out three and four-wheel cycles. She learnt how to check her surroundings, steer, brake and signal.
Faith was encouraged to keep trying all cycles, and on the morning of the third day, she suddenly put her feet on the pedals of her two-wheel cycle and was off! The length of the course, the intensity of the practise and the flexibility to use different wheeled cycles, along with the encouraging instruction and reminders was exactly what Faith needed to learn to ride her two-wheeled cycle.
Faith said that she loved the course and her mum said seeing photos of Faith confidently cycling moved her to tears. They had tried so many times themselves to get her cycling but hadn’t been able to do so without using stabilisers. Thanks to money from the Innovation Fund, Faith was able to access the specialised training she needed to get riding.
Widening Participation Fund
The Widening Participation Fund was established to identify children who do not currently access Bikeability and address the barriers that they face. Pilot projects were asked to demonstrate how they could overcome barriers and increase participation in Bikeability within the following four key areas:
- Lower take up in areas of deprivation
- Low take up amongst specific ethnic backgrounds
- Low delivery of Level 3 training
- Low participation amongst female teenagers
43 projects received a share of our £1.4 million as a result of our Widening Participation Fund. The projects include plans to:
- Purchase cycles for children from deprived areas to learn to ride on
- Deliver cycle instructor training to people from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds to support the community delivery of Bikeability
- Empower teenage girls to cycle more by improving self-esteem and providing aspirational female cycling role models
- Introduce more cycling into the curriculum in pupil referral units to help older teenagers learn to cycle
“After the success of the Innovation Fund, we were delighted to launch the Widening Participation Fund. We received so many innovative and exciting bids to address the barriers that could prevent a child from learning to ride. The 43 chosen projects will help even more children access cycle training, who otherwise may not be able to discover the delight and freedom of cycling.
Children with Special Educational Needs and/or a disability are just one of the groups who can struggle to access Bikeability. The Widening Participation Fund will allow us to support more disadvantaged groups to discover the joys of cycling. I’m excited to follow and support the projects into 2022 and beyond.”
Mike Holwill, Innovation Officer