Findings from the research into the impact of Bikeability training on children’s ability to perceive and respond appropriately to hazards when cycling on the road

Bikeability cycle training is practical, skill-based, outcome-led and designed to boost confidence minimise risk. There are three levels of training and children typically start Bikeability lessons once they have learnt to ride a bike. Level 2 training is generally provided to children in Year 5 or 6 before they leave primary school. The policy purpose of Bikeability is to give children the skills and confidence needed to cycle on today’s roads and so encourage more people to cycle more often with less risk.

This research was designed to test the hypothesis that Bikeability improves children’s ability to perceive and appropriately respond to on-road hazards faced by people who cycle. The research, undertaken by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), was commissioned by The Bikeability Support Team at Steer Davies Gleave with funding from the Department for Transport.

The research involved pupils who were in Year 5 in summer 2014 and tracked them as they moved into Year 6 in the autumn term. The study involved 29 schools and a total of 668 pupils.

Participating schools and pupils were either in the intervention or comparison group. Schools in the intervention group had pupils who participated in Bikeability training during the summer term (trained pupils). Pupils in the comparison schools did not receive any training in the summer term (although they were expected to be given training whilst in Year 6).

NFER developed an on-screen quiz designed to assess four domains that underpin effective hazard perception and appropriate response strategies: observation, communication, road position and priorities. Then, in order to ascertain whether or not the on-screen assessment was a reliable tool for measuring hazard perception and appropriate response ability, some children who had passed their Bikeability Level 2 training were also given a practical assessment. The practical assessment was carried out by qualified and experienced instructors. These were designed to provide sufficient opportunities to demonstrate competence, confidence and consistency in the four domains also covered by the on-screen quiz. The scores achieved by pupils on the on-screen quiz and practical assessment were analysed to establish if there was a correlation.

Key findings:

  • Children who participated in Bikeability Level 2 training scored significantly higher on the hazard perception and appropriate response quiz, after training, than children who had not received training.
  • The most notable improvements in responses from children after training were on ‘observation’, ‘road position’ and ‘priorities’.
  • The effect of the Bikeability Level 2 training was undiminished when children re-took the quiz more than two months after training. This suggests that the association between training and increased hazard perception and appropriate response strategies was sustained.
  • Children who participated in training reported increased confidence when cycling on the road compared to their initial level of confidence. This increase was statistically significant.

 

To read the full report – click here