Volunteers get on their bikes to teach kids safe cycling
One of the biggest barriers preventing schoolchildren participating in cycle safety training has been overcome by a small army of volunteers.
Less than half of Aberdeen's primary schools offered Bikeability Scotland training to pupils last year because of a lack of volunteers to help with sessions. This year, Aberdeen City Council officers are helping schoolchildren learn to cycle safely, thanks to a new volunteering opportunity created by the authority.
As part of the council's Corporate Social Responsibility agenda, all staff members in the Planning and Sustainable Development and Economic and Business Development services have been granted a half day's leave specifically to allow them to assist with the delivery of Bikeability Scotland training at city primary schools.
Bikeability Scotland is a modern-day cycling proficiency programme, designed to give children the skills and confidence they need to cycle safely on the roads.
Council cycling champion Councillor Ross Thomson, said: "It is so important that children receive good quality cycling education to help them understand the rules of the road and how important it is to stick to those rules to keep themselves safe while cycling.
"I think this volunteering initiative is enormously valuable, not only for our schools and pupils, but also for our officers who must get a tremendous sense of achievement knowing that they're helping to keep young cyclists safe on the streets."
Council volunteers are being matched with schools unable to attract the necessary volunteers from within the school community. So far, 27 officers, from trainees to team leaders, have assisted eight schools which might not otherwise have been able to offer Bikeability training and significantly increasing the number of children leaving primary school with the skills and knowledge they need to be safe and responsible cyclists.
Head of Planning and Sustainable Development Dr Maggie Bochel said: "Promoting cycling is fundamental part of delivering our Local Transport Strategy. Most importantly, supporting Bikeability will make a significant contribution to the health and safety of our young people, giving them the skills and confidence to cycle both now and in the future. It can also be fun and rewarding."
Feedback from participating staff members and the schools they have been working with has been overwhelmingly positive, with one school describing the volunteers as a 'lifeline'.
Transport Strategy and Programmes team leader Joanna Murray added: "As a team manager, it is easy to become remote from the benefits of the work the team does, so helping with Bikeability was a great opportunity for me to directly see the benefits of our work and to interact with and help our next generation of cyclists learn to be safe on the road."
To find out more about becoming a Bikeability volunteer email Bikeability@aberdeencity.gov.uk or call Sally Duthie at Adventure Aberdeen on 01224 270990.