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Mobility and Transport

Overview

Provision of cycle training increases the ability of individuals to cycle and to follow appropriate traffic rules. It addresses all population groups, with a strong focus on children (specifically pupils).

Considerations for applicability

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Level of cycling

Cycle training is more necessary and challenging in cities with a low-level of cycling. Convincing people to participate might be hampered by the low level of cycling and perception of cycling as a potentially dangerous mode of transport.

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Urban layout/topography

Topography can contribute to the level of cycling within a city. Hilly cities, with many steep areas may dissuade people from cycling, potentially exacerbated by other conditions limiting cycling uptake in low-cycling level cities. Where people are offered the opportunity to test pedelecs / e-bikes (as part of cycle training), this may help to overcome barriers related to hilly terrain.

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Population

Cycling training can be tailored to all population groups but is of specific relevance for children and elderly people. Cities may want to invest in training for adults aged over 50, as a measure to encourage the uptake or ongoing use of cycling amongst this group.

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Finance Resources

Cycling training is a low-cost measure mainly comprising of staff costs, which can be kept low with the involvement of target group staff (e.g. kindergarten, schools) as well as police. Equipment costs are only of relevance when bicycles are provided by the training organisers.

Investment costs only arise from the implementation of a dedicated cycle training area, which can be provided by the city or by other non-public entities, such as large traffic associations.

The Graz example of road safety training for primary school pupils shows costs of about €24/pupil.

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Time & Human Resources

Time and human resource requirements depend on the scope of the training programme being considered: single training events require considerably less of both, than a city-wide training programme for all pupils of a certain age category e.g. 4th grade at primary school. For single training events, a few months are needed for preparation, promotion and implementation. In contrast, a large programme may require up to a year. The necessary human resources are usually below one full-time person for the associated timespan. Even large programmes can be organised by one person. However, implementation requires a minimum of two people to manage the practical elements, but will also depend on teh number of people anticipated to participate in the training.

Measure impact highlight

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Safety

Increased road safety is one of the main impacts of cycling training, achieved through learning, applying traffic rules and by being well-skilled cyclists able to cycle safely in traffic.

Note: An overview of the direct and indirect impacts resulting from correctly implemented cycling measures is available in http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6167{Challenges that cities face and how cycling can address them as Link}

In-depth measure analysis, case studies and further guidance

[collapsed title=Detailed description of the measure]

Key features

The provision of cycle training can improve an individual’s propensity and capacity to cycle. This includes the actual ability to ride a bicycle, as well as the ability to cycle safely in traffic, and abide by traffic rules. The physical ability ranges from learning to cycle and being a safe traffic user, improving cycling skills to maintaining skills and even regaining skills that were lost over time through little or no bicycle use. The traffic training side refers to learning and applying traffic rules as a cyclist in addition to refreshing knowledge in a later stage of life. It can include practising specific situations, such as cycling at night or using major roads. However, both aspects of cycle training follow one ultimate objective: to get people cycling and keeping them on their bikes.

 

Young cyclist stopped at pedestrian crossing

Function and objectives

Cycle training supports the idea of the “right to cycle” by teaching people of various ages and different population groups how to cycle. Offers start with early childhood and extend to courses for elderly people. The main objective is to increase a given level of cycling within the population. In this, it addresses a number of further objectives and makes use of a range of arguments to promote cycling.

Children should both learn how to cycle and how to apply traffic rules. Later on, it is about improving these skills. The measures should encourage independence and mobility, as well as being fun for children. Children also benefit from the physical activity and the greater awareness of traffic. Any cycle training for children can have the added benefit of raising awareness and increasing cycling amongst their families. Cycle training targeted at different age groups during childhood aims at establishing cycling as a natural modal choice, too.

Adults can be targeted for a wide range of objectives, such as learning to cycle, “re-learning” cycling, continuing to cycle, safe cycling or making use of new options in cycling. The actual objective is often connected to a specific target group (e.g. cycle training for beginners often sees a high share of immigrants coming from culturally non-cycling backgrounds). The target group variety is high, as training objectives can be tailored to specific population groups. The wide range of objectives results in a number of arguments for training. They include, amongst others, gaining and maintaining independence, physical activity, mitigating health risks and environmental concerns, time and cost advantages, being mobile and social endeavours.

Cycle training targeted at the elderly is largely concerned with continuing to cycle but can sometimes be focussed on re-starting cycling. Motivations include health and fitness, maintaining an independent lifestyle, feeling safe and comfortable cycling as well as to be safe traffic users as cyclists. An important trigger to motivate elderly people for cycling training is to give the training a social encounter notion adding a comfortable environment for the training itself. Training combined with input from medical staff or physiotherapists is a good option to attract elderly people to courses.

Cycle training is mostly a group activity comprising a theoretical and practical element. The two main foci – the actual ability to ride a bicycle and the ability to apply traffic rules as a cyclist in traffic – rely on the two elements of theory and practice. Theory takes place in classrooms or protected areas. It can include teaching of traffic rules, how to cycle in traffic, how to adjust a bicycle but also benefit related information like health effects. Delivery takes forms such as ex-cathedra teaching, first exercises, discussions and gamification elements. Practice covers a wide range depending on the training course scope. Elements can be exercises such as gaining balance, breaking, riding one-handed, following a set cycling course, testing different bicycles, practising cycling in road traffic in a training area and in real traffic conditions. It comprises learning to cycle, too. Additionally, cycling training extends to informational and promotional content, such as incorporating the theme of cycling to educational lessons in kindergarten or schools or providing a bicycle service to ensure bicycles are well-maintained. Cycling ability elements are also interrelated in any training addressing road safety, since the level of cycling skills directly impacts a cyclist’s ability to ride safe in traffic.

The physical environment for cycle training depends on the training objective. Some offers, such as skills and road safety training for children, work best if practice grounds and traffic training areas are at hand. In most cases, a space outside real traffic, which is large enough to cycle, suffices.

Options for cycle training are wide-ranging, such as: kindergarten programmes, focused on learning to cycle and interweaving the themes into daily life; cycling skills training and road safety education in school; testing and use of different bicycles such as e-bikes, pedelecs or cargo bikes; offering adults the chance to actually learn how to cycle or provide courses for elderly people to stick with cycling. The variety of training offers goes beyond the aspect of age, using other target group segmentation aiming at particular groups e.g. gender-specific training groups, employee groups or the promotion of special bicycle use, such as pedelec or cargo-bike training.

Complementary measures

Cycle training is connected to most cycling measures for the simple reason that promoting cycling requires people with the ability to cycle. Therefore, providing cycling training should be an element in any cycling development strategy.

Cycle training also complements other measures that fall under Information, Communication and Promotion (see 3.1 Cycle information and awareness raising and 3.2 Cycle events). Combining cycle training with informational or promotional activities has the advantage of targeting certain groups regarding cycling, whilst providing them with the opportunity to learn to ride or to improve their cycling skills/abilities. This works especially well in combination with events, not only cycling-focused events, but also training for children.

Cycle training needs to refer to cycling infrastructure conditions to teach the right content in terms of physical skills and traffic rules. Any changes in regulations for cycling infrastructure or the introduction of new kinds of infrastructure in a city can be reflected in cycle training.

These aspects play an important role in providing people with the necessary skills and knowledge to cycle (and to cycle safely), whilst existing cycling infrastructure increases the likelihood that people will cycle after their respective cycling training.

Performance

The main impact of cycle training is on an individual’s ability to cycle – relating to riding a bicycle and to applying traffic rules in traffic environments. Increased road safety is one of the main impacts of cycle training, achieved through learning and abiding by traffic rules and being well-skilled and thus safe cyclists. Evaluation of the effects of road safety training on pupils in Graz shows that the number of pupils with good cycling ability increased from 53% to 67%. A study from the University of Ghent on the effects of a cycle training course on children’s cycling skills and levels of cycling to school showed that the cycling training course was effective in increasing some skills, although the actual level of cycling to school did not increase.

Moreover, safe cycling and an increase in the level of cycling can lead to an increase in health and fitness, whereby cyclists are at reduced risk of diseases, such as diabetes, as well as cardiovascular diseases. Safe riding in traffic also prevents injuries.

Cycle training can support the creation or maintenance of a positive cycling culture. Taking care that people are well-educated in regard to safe cycling highlights the value of cycling within a city. Moreover, group training courses help to create a community of cyclists and create a positive perception of cycling.

Cycle training is likely to have direct impacts on cycling modal share within a city. The main contribution comes from training for children, be it the actual ability to cycle or education regarding traffic safety and rules (which is also of importance for parents). Without global cycle training, such as training for pupils, fewer children would be able to cycle independently or at all. Yet, cycling training also impacts the number of adult and elderly cyclists. It supports the maintenance of cycling and encourages some individuals to cycle for the first time or after a long break.

Parameters of success or failure

Cycling training is a low-cost measure, with the majority of costs associated with employing trainers and organisational staff. The involvement of police, bike dealers, physiotherapists and kindergarten staff, as well as sponsors financing venues and equipment, can help to further reduce costs. The time required to plan and host a cycling training event varies depending background and scope. Large training programmes, covering an entire city, such as road safety cycling training in primary schools, require a long period of organisation and implementation. In contrast, one-off training events, may require less time. However, it can still take weeks to organise and promote events which are targeting a specific audience.

In most cases, schools deliver intense programmes year on year, which require organisation prior to the start of the school year. Most cycling training requires outdoor space away from road traffic, or designated traffic training areas.

Provision of good equipment or safeguarding that cyclists bring sufficient quality equipment is of importance too. This refers to the bicycle itself, which needs to meet any regional or national equipment or quality standards. The training event can simply provide the bicycles for the course or provide safety checks and maintenance services. Providing bicycles might be of interest to bike dealers, since they will get the opportunity to engage with possible clients directly. Provision of other equipment is also useful, including rain coats, helmets or reflective vests.

Training for elderly people is more effective if sufficient time is dedicated to the social element of the event, which is highly valued by the trainee group. Coffee or tea breaks, as well as any other forms of social encounter, are required during and after training. The latter requires provision of space and some catering nonetheless.

For children, gamification elements of training, such as learning the traffic rules by a board game are highly recommended. Responsible entities for providing road safety cycling training can analyse the current need for inclusion of such elements.

Key lessons for transferability

Cycle training courses require thorough preparation, taking enough time to attract trainees and partners, to fit to national or regional conditions for cycling and to exploit possible synergies with other actors.

Applicability of cycle training does not meet the same conditions everywhere: introducing any cycle training might be more difficult for low-cycling level cities. Attracting participants and/or gaining the approval of parents for their children's participation could more often meet arguments speaking against cycling, such as concerns regarding dangerous traffic conditions or hilly areas. However, it is these cities that need cycling training the most - for starting and accelerating the uptake of cycling.

Two important general aspects need to be stressed for offering cycling training:

  • Providers of training are advised to contract an insurance covering the training activities.
  • Good relationships with local police are crucial for any road safety related training offers.

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[collapsed title=Case Studies]

[collapsed title=Road safety cycling training for children (Graz, Austria)]

  • Location:Central
  • Population: medium urban area (286,000)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Climber (14.5%)

Road safety training is offered for children in many countries. It focuses on traffic rules and how to apply them when cycling. In many cases, it is preparation for the acquisition of a cycling license, which allows children to cycle in traffic by themselves. In Graz, the training tends to take place in primary school in 4th grade. However, the average age of children with the ability to ride a bicycle differs from country to country. The content of the training makes use of two elements mostly: theoretical training in the classroom and practical training in a protected environment offside of real-traffic conditions. However, some cases include an element of practical training in a road traffic environment too. The training can also include elements on practising how to cycle, which is then performed in an environment with road traffic. The following details make use of the road safety cycling training for pupils, including real-traffic elements, from Graz, Austria.

Theoretical training elements

The theoretical elements take place in the classroom. The objective is to familiarise children with the topic of mobility in general, but mainly with traffic rules and how to read and apply them. Training can involve standardised forms of teaching and interactive discussions, as well as games and creative learning.

Practical training elements in a protected environment

The main emphasis of road safety cycling training is the practical element. In most cases, this takes place in a protected environment, which can be the schoolyard (given enough space), a calm or closed road or dedicated traffic training areas for children. The training starts with a safety check of bicycles, to ensure that they are of a required standard. It also includes exercises, to improve the cycling ability of children and practise of traffic situations, such as right and left turns, stopping, cycling in a crossing and obeying traffic signs. Training in schoolyards is limited due to the lack of ability to practise in real traffic situations.

Practical training elements in road traffic environment

Practical training in the road traffic environment is performed in small groups accompanied by two cycling trainers. It takes place in low speed areas, such as 30 km/h zones. Exercises start with discussions of the situation and are then practised by the children. Each child receives personal feedback on their exercise. The traffic situations practised are comparable to the scenarios used in a protected environment and are practised beforehand. Experiences show that left-turns are the most difficult exercise.

Actors and resources for road safety cycling training for children

Road safety cycle training for children is performed by different actors: teachers; police and private providers. While teachers are mainly active in the theoretical part, police officers or private providers, acting on behalf of public administration, take over for all parts of the training. Required resources vary largely due to the planned resource use (e.g. traffic education by teachers in schools' curricula) and the number of schools covered by a type of training. An example of the resource needs by private actors from Graz shows that to cover ~90 primary school classes, € 40,000 was invested. This sum includes training, as well as contacting and organising the training with the schools.

Resources also need to be allocated towards the employment of trained staff as cycling trainers with first aid knowledge, and providing proper insurance.

Excursus on traffic safe schools in Malmö

The City of Malmö provides a website with information, teaching materials, school trips, a traffic game and the campaign "Walk and cycle to school":

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[Collapsed title=Cycling training for different target groups]

Cycling promotion in kindergarten

A few Austrian cities such as Graz, Weiz or Salzburg carried out programmes promoting cycling at kindergarten age. The aim is to engage children with cycling earlier than school age, to highlight the positive impacts of physical activity from an early age, share the fun element of cycling and shape future transport behaviour. A further aim was to motivate parents to cycle more often (or to start cycling), through approaching them via their children.

The programmes in kindergartens include:

  • Cycling exercises making use of push bikes, including a certificate for having succeeded in learning to cycle. If possible, police cooperated in a "cycling test" and provided certificates to children.
  • Creative elements, such as storytelling on the topic of cycling, incorporating cycling into picture books, handicraft works, art competitions and games.
  • Motivating activities for parents to reduce car trips to kindergarten, such as a cycling to kindergarten campaign or restricting traffic to the area surrounding the kindergarten.

The actual programme is not carried out by external trainers but by the kindergarten staff who get support for the programme in preparatory workshops.

In the case of Graz, more than 8.700 kindergarten children were covered by the programme in its second year of implementation. Half of them learned how to cycle in the programme, and the remaining half could already cycle. Perception of cycling as a fun, healthy and comfortable mode of transport improved, the proportion of parents cycling increased by 71% and 62% of parents confirmed that they talked about the programme to friends and family. Resource and time use for initiating the programme was low due to the "train-the-trainers" approach used for kindergarten staff before the start of the programme. The same staff then carried out the promotional programme as part of their work in kindergartens.

Cycling training for adults - Malmö

Malmö organises and runs cycling training classes, targeting adults who want to learn how to cycle. In 2017, 12 classes were hosted, involving more than 200 participants. Participants include many immigrants, without previous cycling experience, as well as a majority of women.

Cycling training for elderly people - Munich

Cycle training for elderly people in Munich aims at maintaining an independent lifestyle for seniors with mobility as one of its key elements. The organisation "Green Cities", supported by the City of Munich, were responsible for implementing the training. The training course addressed concerns, such as the fear of cycling in road traffic and falling off the bike, as well as returning to cycling having not ridden a bicycle for a long period of time.

The training course makes use of theoretical elements, as well as indoor and outdoor exercises. The course starts by discussing the course objective and the concerns of participants. Then, the theoretical element follows, with a presentation provided by a physiotherapist on the health effects of cycling. Participants then engage in exercises in the classroom for balance and physical coordination, supervised by a physiotherapist. Theory is concluded by a short input on traffic rules from the police. The practical element offers participants the chance to practise cycling using different bicycle models, ranging from a classical bicycle to e-bikes, tricycles and special needs bicycles. Support is provided by cycling-active elderly people following a peer-to-peer approach.

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[collapsed title=Cycling training environments]

Cycle training areas support training courses and are in some cases available for independent usage, too. They are designed to encourage cycling, enable individuals to learn or improve skills and to practise traffic rules, supporting safe cycling.

Safari park (Cykelsafari) of Malmö

"Cykelsafari" is a cycling park, designed for children to learn and improve cycling skills. It is open to anybody, all day, every day of the week. It allows children to practise at their own pace. The Safari park provides the opportunity to:

  • use a lane and follow indications by arrows
  • give way to other cyclists
  • follow signposting located at children's height
  • stop at lines
  • balance
  • let other traffic participants pass by
  • cycle with proper traffic signals
  • cycle with different types of bicycle

Connected to the Safari park, advice for parents is provided on what to consider when cycling with their children. The advice ranges from the size and type of bicycle, the child's position in traffic, related to their cycling parents and the age children should use a sidewalk, rather than the road for cycling.

Children' traffic training areas in Styria

Traffic training areas exist in many cities. They can be provided by local government and by private organisations, too. In the case of the region of Styria in Austria, the Austrian Motorists Club, ÖAMTC, installed a children’s traffic training area dedicated to cycling at its location in Graz. The area is open to parents and children for free and provides use cases for traffic situations ranging from stopping, left- and right-turns, giving way, cycling tracks, crossings, roundabouts and traffic lights. It provides a compressor powered air pump, too. The area is used for the cycling exam performed by the police, as well as by cycling training providers.

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[collapsed title=Cycling Area (Slatina, Romania)]

  • Location: Baltics, Eastern, Central
  • Population: Small urban area (83,566)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Starter (0.7%)

A small cycling area has been created that is used by clients of the nautical club in Slatina. The objective of the project was to use the natural environment to create an area that could benefit both locals and tourists in terms of leisure and health. The area is about 1,210 meters long and is mixed with about 760 sqm of rollers' area. The area is mainly used by clients of the nautical club who rent their bikes, but since it is managed by the public authority, the decision was taken to allow people to come and use the area with their own bikes free of charge. It is primarily used by children who are learning to ride bicycles.

The project was implemented by the local authority as part of a strategy to attract tourists. It was implemented by a team of 10 people and built by a constructor, providing jobs for 45 people. The project was implemented over 43 weeks and cost €7.5 million.

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[collapsed title=Key guidance, further reading and references]

Slovenian Traffic Safety Agency, Ljubljana 2014: Best Practise Examples of safe cycling in Europe

best_practice_examples_of_safe_cycling_in_europe
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(7.51 MB - PDF)
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PRESTO: Targeted adult cycling training programmes

presto_promotion_fact_sheet_on_targeted_adult_training_programmes
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(183.36 KB - PDF)
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PRESTO: Targeted cycling campaigns - schools

presto_promotion_fact_sheet_on_targeted_campaigns
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(173.27 KB - PDF)
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German Institute on Urban Affairs: Cycling training reference to in-traffic version: https://nationaler-radverkehrsplan.de/de/praxis/profis-auf-der-strasse-…

Radfahrtraining.at - Evaluation of cycling training to 4th grade pupils of primary schools:

15_years_bicycle_training_under_real_conditions
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(72.52 KB - PDF)
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TOGETHER on the move: website section on safe cycling: http://www.together-eu.org/index.php?id=39&lang=en

Effects of a cycle training course on children's cycling skills and levels of cycling to school; Fabian Ducheyne, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Matthieu Lenoir, Greet Cardon https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0001457514000359

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