Key to getting new cyclists on the road relies as much on training as other initiatives

Evidence gathered as part of a new report suggests that training has a huge part to play in encouraging new cyclists to get on the road.  The report, commissioned by national cycle training organisation BikeRight!, shows that training cautious cyclists - or people who don’t cycle - in their thousands has a guaranteed impact on modal shift.

The report, titled Freewheeling Futures, was based on surveys conducted with around 300 adults who have received cycle training as part of BikeRight!’s Freewheeling programme between 2010 – 2015 in Manchester. 

Key findings include:-

Building the confidence to cycle more

  • The training had encouraged 70% of trainees to cycle more often
  • There was a 200% increase in people using their bicycles as their regular travel to work mode. There was also a 16% reduction in car use
  • Feeling safer on the road  - Over 65% felt safer, more competent and more confident when cycling on the roads

Liz Clarke, BikeRight! MD comments: “Major cycling infrastructure programmes are happening, especially in London, but development is sporadic elsewhere and in lots of areas cycle paths and lanes are either absent or so poorly designed they offer little or no help to cyclists. That’s why training is so important, not just for cyclists but drivers too. It’s going to be decades before towns and cities across the UK get anything approaching the quality of Dutch-style cycling paths so we need to train people for what’s currently out there."

And of course many adults can’t ride a bike, over a tenth of our trainees start with a learn to ride lesson, before progressing to other courses, so Freewheeling and our other services such as Bikeability are literally creating a new generation of bike riders”.

Increasing skills and competency 

  • Prior to the Freewheeling cycle training the majority (70%) of respondents had a basic or low level of cycling experience, including 13% complete beginners
  • After the training over 50% described increased competence to average or advanced

A positive economic contribution

The survey reveals that across Manchester alone the scheme generated up to 232 additional people cycling to work, which would justify £2,100,000 expenditure on cycling infrastructure and facilities, with health, congestion and pollution savings benefits to Greater Manchester of up to £275,000.

On a broader scale similar training schemes run in the West Midlands, Merseyside and Newcastle-upon-Tyne could generate 960 additional people cycling to work, justifying £8.7 million expenditure on cycling infrastructure, facilities and promotional activity.

Estimating the average distances and frequency of cycling across the whole project indicates that this increase of people commuting by bike across the four areas has saved £1.14 million collectively.

BikeRight!’s adult cycle training programme Freewheeling has delivered a glimpse of what could be achieved across Britain, if cycling skills and bike training were given more prominence in delivering a critical shift in cycle use, for everyday journeys. 

Cycling is the most healthy, clean, green and cost-effective way to get around for local journeys. As this survey shows, cycle training could be the secret ingredient to get more people in the saddle. Combined with better infrastructure and strong promotional programmes, training new cyclists could see Britain genuinely become a nation of confident, safe and enthusiastic lovers of life on a bike.

Download a copy of the full report:

Freewheeling Futures.pdf