What is Bikeability?
Bikeability is cycling training based on the approved UK government National Standards. It is designed to equip riders with the necessary skills to keep themselves safe on the road.
This scheme isn’t just for school children as it suitable for riders of all ages who wish to improve on their riding skills.
The course is split into three levels starting off with basic cycling skills and goes up to advanced levels.
Bikeability is delivered by trained instructors who are also registered with the UK Department for Transport and have an NSI number (National Standard Instructor).
When working with school children, Bikeability instructors must have have a current enhanced DBS certificate as well as being First Aiders.
Bikeability Course Structure
First of all and before riders get on their bikes, the instructor will go over a number of points such as clothing as well as an in depth bike check.
Clothing & Helmets – Students are taught how to adjust their helmets as well as making sure their helmets are fitted properly. This is then followed by a brief discussion on adequate clothing for riding conditions and distance.
Bike Check – Students are taught how to carry out a bike M check as well as an ABC Basic Bike Check.
Students are encouraged to carry out an M check at the beginning of the day and an ABC check if their bike has been sitting for a short period of time such as during lunch break.
Once this is completed students are allowed to get on their bikes and the practical part of the course begins..
Bikeability consists of three levels. In each level students are expected to achieve a number of outcomes.
Bikeability level 1 is carried out in a controlled environment and free from traffic.
Riders must demonstrate that they are in control their bicycles and are able achieve the following outcomes:
- Get on and off their bike unaided.
- Start off and pedal without help.
- Planned stop.
- Emergency stop in a controlled manner.
- Show awareness of other road users including cyclists and pedestrians.
- Avoiding obstacles.
- Ensuring the bicycle goes in the intended direction.
- Ability to look behind and around without loss of control.
- Controlling the bike with one hand for a short distance.
- Using gears (if available on the bike).
Once the Bikeability Instructor is satisfied a student has achieved these outcomes they can then move on to the next level.
Bikeability level 2 is carried out on the road with live traffic.
For a student to be able to move to level 2; they must have been able to demonstrate in their riding they have achieved level 1 first.
Before starting level 2, the instructor would have selected a training area as well as carrying out a risk assessment. The area should present riders with enough challenges to put into practice what is being taught.
In order to pass level 2, students must achieve the following outcomes:
- Understand where to ride on the road (including the correct side of the road).
- Start and finish a journey (starting from the kerb).
- Turning left from a minor to a major road (various scenarios and types of junctions).
- Passing a parked vehicle.
- Turning left from a major into a minor road.
- Executing a “U” turn.
- Turning right from a major into a minor road.
- Passing a side road.
- Turning right into a major road.
- Assessment ride.
During the assessment ride the student must demonstrate and apply all the outcomes taught. This is done by carrying out a variety of maneuvers selected by the instructor.
Once the practical part of the course is complete the students are debriefed and informed of their results as to whether they have achieved level 2 or not. They are then then presented with a certificate (at present this is slightly different in Wales).
Bikeability level 3 is also carried out in live traffic situation.
Students must have demonstrated that they can apply all outcomes in level two before moving on to level 3.
Within level three of Bikeability, students must demonstrate they can apply the following outcomes:
- Preparing for a journey.
- Understanding advanced road positioning.
- Getting past a queue of traffic.
- Understanding and dealing with a variety hazards.
- Dealing with driver blind spots.
- Be able to adjust their riding to suit road surface conditions.
As well as the required outcomes, there are a number of desirable outcomes too:
- Negotiating a roundabout.
- Traffic lights.
- Cycle lanes.
- Cycling on roads with speed limits above 30 mph.
- Bus lanes.
Bikeability is a course adequate for all types of riders. Bikeability teaches cycling skills which will hopefully remain with the rider for life.
The aim is to give them the necessary tools to keep themselves safe; and as a result, a chance to get the most out of cycling.
Students who have undertaken the Bikeability course are able demonstrate better riding skills than those who haven’t.
These skills include better awareness of traffic and hazards; as well as being able to anticipate situations and therefore being able to plan ahead.
Due to all these factors, cyclists who have undertaken the Bikeability course are less likely to be injured whilst out riding on the road compared to those who haven’t.
In order to make the course more enjoyable to the trainee, it is always better for the rider to spend as much time as possible on the saddle as opposed to sitting around. Students are given an explanation of the exercise followed by a demonstration and then they are given the chance to try it for themselves.