This is a letter that I wrote to Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on the first of February 2013.
Dear Prof Faishal
My name is Coach K. I am founder and head coach of Singapore Bike School, the only dedicated cycling school in Singapore. I believe more needs to be done to promote cycling as a sport, and particularly, safe cycling as a core skill in schools.
I have been teaching cycling in selected schools since 2009. The children enjoy our lessons very much but our time with them is limited, we can only impart what are essentially basic skills.
In the United Kingdom, most primary school students are given a chance to join Bikeability – a national programme for cycle training in England and Wales, administered by Cycling England. It is based on the National Standard for Cycle Training, a UK Government standard run by the Department for Transport.
Schools training is often over four to six weeks, during normal school hours, starting off with control skills and progressing to on-road training (taught on quiet roads but in real traffic conditions and covers simple manoeuvres and road sense). There is no test. On completion children may be awarded badges, booklets and/or certificates.
A research study in 2011 by the Department for Transport which evaluated the impact and perceptions of cycle training, with a specific focus on Bikeability, found positive results. The report stated that the overwhelming majority of parents whose child had taken part in Bikeability felt it had a positive impact on their child’s safety when cycling on the road (93%).
Similarly, children who had taken part in Bikeability also reported that they felt more confident about riding their bike generally (93%) and riding their bike on the road (86%). The main things that the children interviewed said that they learnt from taking part in Bikeability were ‘to ride my bike more safely’ (68%), ‘to ride my bike safely on the road’ (53%) and ‘to ride my bike with confidence (36%).
Through Singapore Bike School, my coaches and I have trained hundreds of cyclists in primary schools as well as in private classes, giving them new skills and increased confidence.
Just as swimming lessons are now available in most primary schools, I strongly believe the time has come for cycling to be introduced as a core skill in schools. To that objective, we have been working with our cycling federation as well as continually seeking out schools wiling to invest in their students’ safety.
As a cyclist, coach and father of two, it is my vision that all children pick up cycling as a lifelong sport and have the opportunity to do so safety in school. I would be glad to join any discussion, panel or committee to offer my time and services towards this vision.
This was their reply a few days later.
Thank you for your email to Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim. Parliamentary Secretary has read your email and requested that I reply on his behalf.
We note your suggestion on cycling classes in schools. We take a serious view in your feedback and have shared it with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for its attention and consideration.
Meanwhile, we will continue to work with key stakeholders and relevant Government agencies to cultivate good cycling habits and responsible cycling behaviour through effective public education supplemented by an effective regulatory regime.
Thank you for taking the time to write in to share your suggestion.
What do you think? Should cycling be introduced early in a child’s education in order to cultivate skills and encourage safe behavior?