Written by Kunal Sawhney, CEO, Kalkine Group
As the Department for Transport (DfT) advances forward to lift the travel restrictions within the jurisdictions across the United Kingdom in the next stage of reopening, the government has decided to promote cycling in order to reduce the traffic dependency on public transports.
The set targets for immunizing the vulnerable and maximum number of people falling in the priority groups assigned by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) in the upcoming weeks is likely to be quite eventful for the UK. The healthcare authorities have seemingly done an exceptional job in bringing down the rate of hospital admissions and the rate of daily infections, effectively reducing the overall pressure on the National Health Service (NHS) and Public Health England (PHE).
Need of cycling
Expanding the horizon and expediting the pace of vaccination in the ongoing inoculation drive is the most important thing that can help in fighting back the coronavirus pandemic. But there are several other measures that can certainly assist in sustaining the present rate of hospitalisation and keeping a thorough check on new infections.
The authorities can’t make it compulsory for all individuals to obtain a PCR test before boarding a public mode of transport; therefore, the people boarding a bus, train, metro or a shared cab stand at a risk of contracting coronavirus. In order to lessen the comprehensive dependency on the public modes of transport, the government has introduced a Bikeability cycling proficiency training scheme.
The scheme has been designed to promote the habit of cycling to cover shorter distances and has been instituted to improve the confidence of people who are willing to cycle to their respective workplaces, schools, colleges and markets.
The scheme to promote cycling has been launched ahead of the next stage of planned easements under which the DfT is planning to resume the intra-city travel, as well as the international routes with a predefined set of protocols for the passengers arriving from different countries.
For the Bikeability cycling scheme, the government has come forward with funding support to the tune of £18 million. The multi-million pound monetary extension from the government has been directed to improve cycle training, especially for children and families.
The monetary grant has been set aside to make sure that all the children, confident in cycling and are willing to cover their daily travel through cycles, can receive bespoke training sessions under the Bikeability programme. The government has been encouraging all the individuals to choose to walk or cycle over the conventional modes of transport, including a shared cab, bus, or train wherever possible.
Bikeability Trust charity, acting under the supervision of the Department for Transport, has been managing the funding. The Trust will be responsible for imparting on-road practical cycle training within the cycle proficiency scheme. The Bikeability cycling training scheme was first introduced in 2007. It was primarily established to deliver cycle training to children so that they can get themselves equipped with modern roads and traffic regulations.
Now, with the restated push for cycling as the country prepares to reopen in the next few weeks and to support the comprehensive response against the coronavirus pandemic, the children will be directed to learn several things. The skills include Bikeability Balance, cycle handling and awareness, master pedaling, and on-road cycling under level 1. Proceeding ahead with level 2, children will learn to cycle on single-lane roads and simple junctions. The training for handling the complex junctions, busier streets and roundabouts will be given in level 3.
As the government plans to lift the pandemic-induced restrictions cautiously under the planned exit roadmap, the parents and pupils have been encouraged to choose cycling over the other public modes to alleviate the chances of contracting the virus. As per the government directives, pupils of all ages should maximize their habit of cycling to schools, colleges, if the distance from their respective houses can be adequately covered with a cycle.