|Maree Richards, Road Safety Officer at Cambridgeshire County Council|
When I discovered recently that Cambridgeshire County Council schools cycle training is unusual in that they have always included an element of on-road training, I asked Road Safety Officer Maree Richards to tell us a bit more about the scheme. (My memories of cycle proficiency lessons in Bedfordshire are entirely playground-based. It’s good to hear that the Cambridgeshire scheme includes some real-world training.)
I am sure many of you will remember doing your Cycling Proficiency at school and receiving your badge and certificate. I certainly remember clearly the summer of 1976 when I borrowed my friend’s bike so that I could do the cycle training course. Who would have thought that 13 years later I would be working at the desk next to the man who had trained me!
Cambridgeshire County Council’s Road Safety Section has been organising and managing ‘on road’ child cycle training since the early 1970s. Initially, Road Safety Officers and police officers did all the training but, for the last ten years, a team of volunteer Instructors has delivered the training.
Organised via the schools, each school is responsible for finding its own Instructor. We provide support, advice and fliers. Volunteer Instructors attend a one-day training course organised and run by the Road Safety Section. They are then monitored and supported during their first course with children before receiving a certificate to say that they are qualified. Road Safety Section staff continue to support and monitor all Instructors on a regular basis. Annual Cycle Instructor meetings are held to share information and ideas.
‘Around 400 committed and dedicated Instructors train over 4000 children every year’
At present we have around 400 committed and dedicated Instructors training over 4000 children in Cambridgeshire every year. Without these Instructors the scheme would not be as successful as it is. At schools with Instructors, the Cambridgeshire Safer Cycling Scheme , as it is known today, is open to all children aged 10 years old or over. (This age limit is for insurance purposes.)
This ‘on road’ course provides five hours of training at road junctions near the school, usually one hour per day during school times, but this schedule can be adjusted to match the particular needs of the Instructor and of the school.
|Volunteer instructor Pete Terry, with children from Bottisham Primary school|
The Cambridgeshire Safer Cycling Scheme teaches children basic cycling skills including starting, stopping, turning left and right from main and side roads and overtaking parked vehicles. The course aims to encourage and develop safer cycling habits for life, to develop positive attitudes towards road use and to increase each pupil’s knowledge and understanding of the road and traffic environment. We also hope they enjoy and have fun on the course, thus we are encouraging cycling. Continuous assessment is used throughout the course to assess each individual child’s ability and attitude to road use.
As well as the practical side, during the course children do homework that we hope helps to get their parents involved. The children also get support materials which include the Highway Code for Young Road Users which, I can assure you, is far more exciting than the adult version!
At the end of the course the child is told either that they have successfully completed the course (they get a badge and a certificate) or that they need to do some more training (they get a certificate to say they have taken part in the course). Letters go home to the parents to explain the outcome, and saying that they need to encourage their child to cycle regularly in order to continue developing skills and confidence.
We are always on the look out for potential new Instructors, so if you have some spare time and are looking for something really worthwhile and rewarding, look no further: give us a call.
Maree Richards (01223) 717385