Cycling proficiency test in schools

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  • Cycling proficiency test in schools
  • trailmonkey

    I instruct Bikeability in Torbay and sometimes Exeter. I’ve never stopped anyone doing it because their bike was in a bad way. There’s usually a solution to most problems. We tend to see some ropey bikes but our attitude is that they’ll be riding the bike outside of school anyway so lets get them trained. As long as the brakes work, the tyres are pumped up, the bars and saddle are straight and tight and as long as they can turn the cranks, the bike is good enough.
    We wouldn’t stipulate in too much detail, how we want the bikes to arrive. It really wouldn’t help.


    My lad did part of his training back in september and he needed me to fit a rear reflector – luckily I had one around that I could fit.

    But agreed that more info could have been provided on what a road worth cycle – I presume you’ve suggested that to his instructor


    I helped out recently at my kids school when they did there CPT.

    Saying that, the majority of the kids were on brand new bikes, most needed the seat and brakes adjusting before we even started, which did get me wondering if they had even tried the bikes out?

    I could be cynical and say they were bought just to do the CPT on, but its not a posh school and is unlikely, saying that the kids that shone were all on hand me downs 😉

    Votchy, the examiner, who was actually very good, had a box of cheap reflectors/bells that he fitted up to any bikes that did not have them, before he started, he also had a few bikes in the back of his van, just in case.

    Sorry to hear your little one had a bad time of it, I guess the standard of instruction can vary from one tester to another.


    I was asked if I could help train our lot of kids on the road prior to the CPT.
    The bikes the kids turned up on were in all sorts of states, the only two I had issue with were one BMX with it’s brakes removed and another with just one.
    The two common problems were flat tyres and disconected V brakes which I was happy to put right myself, oh and the odd skyward set of brake levers.
    I can’t remember issues with reflectors.
    Although I’m not a tester? regardless of how tatty a bike is, as long as it goes and stops and the kid can ride it proper good then alls well.
    But I can just see some testers shaking their heads and tutting behind their clipboards at some of the bikes or the way they look.


    Many years ago my dad (experienced club cyclist) set up my Nieces bike for her cycle proficiency,
    only for the instructor to tell her that the saddle was to high and the handlebars to low!!


    I also instruct Bikeability. In some of the poorer areas of London the bikes that turn up can be in a pretty bad way. We always do our best to make the bikes roadworthy but sometimes its just not possible especially when the bikes turn up without any brakes! The bigest problem I tend to encounter is kids turning up with bikes that are way to small or to big for them to effectively carry out the drills/skills required to cycle safely on road. I tend to do catch up sessions the following week if the child can source another bike that is roadworthy or the correct size.
    We always go into schools a few weeks prior to the course and do an assembly to the children. We chat to them about the course and I use my bike as a prop so I can show them what they need to check on their bike for it to be roadworthy. I also talk to them about correct bike size/saddle height.
    These assemblys help in making the course run much more smoothly.
    At the end of each cycle training day we also do a Parent/Teacher advice session. This gives us a chance to meet the parents and explain how their child is doing and if there is anything they need to practice before the next session. I know that what I class as roadworthy and what some parents class roadworthy is completely different. I fully understand that some parents just dont have the money, time or knowledge to get their childs bike in a safe condition so I always do my upmost to fix a childs bike. I certainly wouldn’t stop a child from doing the course for not having a reflector though.


    Grahamh: many years ago when i did my cycling proficiency test bike had to be set up so that you could sit on the saddle with both feet on the floor, never had my bikes set up like that before or since.

    i did cornwall county council’s cyclewise course, its their own thing because they did’nt want to go to the expense of bikeability and after a days ‘tuition’ (i use that in the loosest possible sense) it allows anyone to then take children on the road to teach them to ride ‘safely’.

    to say it was a farce is perhaps understating it; i’m not sure what was worse – the council employee in charge of the whole scheme, who’s own bike was a very sub 100quid hybrid (low saddle, super high bars) and who’s cycling experience was the odd summer pootle along the camel trail telling me that i did’nt know how to brake a bike safely (should add at this point that 2 months prior i had done the smbla tcl course). or two or three of the people on the course who had problems with even the most basic bike skills, stopping and starting, but at the end of the day were then free to go on and instruct kids.

    so personally, i would’nt let my children do a cyclewise course, would be very sceptical about bikeability and would be in the headmasters office within about 2 seconds if someone tried to tell me my kids bike was’nt ‘roadworthy’ – and no they don’t have f+cking reflectors!


    I’ve done Bikeability training (but I’m not fully accredited yet). During my training it was flagged up that my pedals didn’t have reflectors on them (I use SPDs, M520) and could possibly be setting a bad example to the kids. I countered this by explaining that reflectors were only required at night/dark conditions (
    Not that it mattered anyway, my huge panniers (with reflective patches I hasten to add) pretty much obscure my pedals!

    Claiming bikes that don’t have reflectors are “unroadworthy” is a bit petty and pathetic in my opinion. Unfortunately it isn’t that surprisng to me judging by some of the CPT Instructors I’ve met.

    Premier Icon votchy

    My youngest is doing his cycling proficiency this week at school, the letter gave very little information other than you must wear a helmet and have a safe bicycle. I gave the bike a once over and even though I cycle regularly, made the mistake of not refitting the rear reflector (had been removed to accomodate a mudguard). He was told he needed this to do his test.

    My post is the instructor/examiner has had kids in tears and caused a lot of unrest amongst parents because many have been told that they cannot do the lessons or the test because of the state of their bikes. Should the information provided be a bit more informative as to what constitutes a safe bicycle? I’m sure many of us rode bikes when we were younger with bald tyres, no reflectors, stunt pegs on bake/front/both etc.

    Cycling parents will obviously be a bit more savvy about the bikes but many parents just buy a kids bike and that’s it.

    Would welcome the opinions/comments from those on here who do cycling work with the schools.

    Premier Icon nickc

    We tend to see some ropey bikes but our attitude is that they’ll be riding the bike outside of school anyway so lets get them trained

    This was the attitude the trainer who came to our school took, we had to sort out the same kinds of issues other here have had, obviously non working brakes and such, but reflectors? Weren’t even looking for them!

    Letter to the Head…


    The National Standards/Bikeability Syllabus is very thorough. The problem is with some of the Instructors that are teaching it. In the organisation I work for we have inset training 3-4 times a year to see how we can improve our level of training. This can include how to teach children/adults with special needs, Advanced cycle training for adults, or brush up on cycle maintenance etc. We also have a yearly appraisal with another instructor who has reached the level of mentor. These mentors will help to develop new and current instructors alike. Instructors are encouraged to develop better ways of teaching Bikeability and share these ideas with other instructors within the organisation.

    We tend to see some ropey bikes

    that’ll be the instructor’s bike in my experience!


    i had to remove my bar ends to pass my test! it was the 90’s my bar ends were cool – idiots!


    My daughter is taking her CPT at the moment too.
    Just out of interest, I’ll have to ask her what was said about the condition of the bikes and if anyone was refused.
    There was no problem with hers, but I’d hope not! I gave it a good going over and although the front and wheel reflectors were removed ages ago, I left the rear reflector on.

    You’d have thought the requirements would have been sent out in a letter, so that you could put right any “failings” before sending the child to take part. Some parents wouldn’t have a clue.


    I do saftey checks at bikeability courses for the local authority.
    The biggest issue I see is cheap “supermarket bikes” with loose stems and wheels – the best was a front wheel with only one wheel nut and that was hand tight…


    In my experience years ago with being a scout leader n taking scouts out on trips,multi ability , as long as the bikes were safe , brakes working,wheels resonably round ,saddles n bars in good order n the fact that they were out doing exercise was a plus point.

    My lads local school let them ride to school(primary) one lad recently showing off to audience doing the old hands off claping in the air trick, had a shock as car came round the corner, quick word of caution to teacher n parent (lesson learnt) .

    Must admit we did crazy stunts like overtaking coaches as they went down the hill, but that was us at 14 /15 .!!!!

    I’d not be amused at my lad doing it now, as a parent .!



    I still remember being told I’d fail mine for drifing in the corners and using trackstands (although i didn’t know they were called that) to get arroud the stupidly spaced cone slalom.

    Almost failed for not knowing road signs, not supprising seeing as no one told us to learn them or taught us!

    Hands up who regulalry rides a bike that would fail the roadworthyness checks mentioned?

    -commuter, probably pass despite lecy tape for bar tape and brake blocks are almost shot.

    – bmx, not a chance, one brake, no refelctos saddle too low :p

    – mtb, no refelctors

    – road bikes, no reflectors

    Premier Icon paul4stones

    Yeah, it’s tricky this.

    I’m in the middle of an informal ‘bikeability’ based course. We’re not trained or informed other than having read the Highway Code and the Bikeability stuff. We also have a pack from county (Northumberland) of their version of a training course which they will certify on return of a questionnaire. No training of the instructors (me) at all! I’ve stressed that there’s nothing official about what we’re doing but it’s just to give some basic instruction and hopefully get the kids to think about what’s going on on the road. Some have never seen a traffic light!

    We’re doing it all off road (school playground) and over a few sessions. Same experience of brakeless BMXs – well they only need the skid brake don’t they?!

    Interestingly most of the more unruly kids could howl round like nutters doing skids and wheelies but couldn’t manage slow speed riding and one of them (with one brake) couldn’t help riding into the back of everyone! Point made.

    Anyway, there’s no way I’d discourage them from riding any bike – chucking a bike sideways into a skid to stop it is quite a useful skill sometimes 🙂

    Premier Icon Normal Man

    My son’s school recently had a visit from Dr. Bike which lead to an interesting tale, here it is as posted on another forum at the time:

    My son has a fairly cheap and cheerful BMX for messing about on. It has v brakes.

    Anyway, yesterday was a cycle to school day with bike training/maintainence check from the local council’s ‘bike expert.’

    He failed to identify my son’s bmx did not have a gyro/360 head and tried to spin the bars in a demo of how ‘all’ bmx bikes can do this! This managled the brake cables, causing one to scratch the frame and broke the front brake!

    He then proceeded to say that shouldn’t have happened and try again!

    My son was somewhat distraught by this point.

    He then ‘fixed’ the v brakes with his ‘trusty spanner.’

    I went to meet me son from school and spotted the brake cable had been left sticking out/not tucked in neatly and asked what happened. He related the story so I thought I better check them. Sure enough the front brake failed to work and the back brake was stuck on!

    I managed to bodge it enough to get home slowly and carefully, although stupidly hadn’t taken tools with me. (for 2 reasons – firstly, it had been working fine that morning and secondly, given it was a bike maintainence check the last thing I expected was it to get broken)

    So, I have spent my lunchtime in the cold, fixing his brakes back to what they were in the first place, in fact, better.

    Thanks to the ‘bike expert’!

    Hope you enjoyed that! oh and yes, I did complain……….

    Premier Icon votchy

    So from all the responses above it seems that this is an example of an over enthusiastic instructor. Will check to see which scheme it was.


    front and wheel reflectors were removed ages ago

    Out of interest, why take reflectors off a bike? Do they make it work worse or something? Or is it just a fashion thing?

    I can see why you’d take off pedal reflectors, just because you change over the pedals, and the back one might go if you have to fit a mudguard (I guess that’s why a lot of mudguards have reflectors on), but other than that, why not just keep them on?


    Premier Icon mick_r

    It really varies area to area. Before slating it why not get down your school and help out?

    My mrs volunteers and runs the “Passport to safer cycling” at our kids primary school.

    To be honest it is a bureaucratic chore. There is a very fixed list concerning the bikes and she isn’t allowed to touch ANYTHING (e.g. can’t adjust helmet straps, lower a saddle, tighten a QR etc).

    The condition of the bikes is pretty grim and the parents whinge about having to bring bikes back for re-checking after repairs (then why not fix them first???)- almost to the point where we have considered using school travel plan funds to get the local bike shop down for a few hours to fix things in one hit.

    Months prior to the practical and bike check (so as to fit around SATS), the kids take home a big Q and A comic book that they have to work through. This covers everything needed in a very simple format (helmet fit, reflectors, working brakes etc etc). But strangely the parents never find time to read it…..

    Premier Icon dusty trails

    My Lad did his CPT a month or 2 ago, came home after the first day with a comment sheet – needed a rear reflector fitting & his saddle dropping by 1-1.5cm (10-15mm in my money)or about 1/2″ – WHY, seems like the old woman taking the kids just wanted to make a point. My lad, when questioned what sort of riding he liked to do replied that he liked riding singletrack (chip off the old block there then :wink:) to which she dismissively replied – ‘what’s that – i’ve never heard of it’. She the apparently turned her back on him & ignored him for the rest of the course. When finally complete, the comment sheet sheet ‘said’, amongst other iffy statements, that he RIDES TOO FAST – good lad – chip off the old block indeed.
    Unfortunately his bike, along with his brothers & 2 of mine were nicked the other week so he can’t ride at the mo. until the insurance pays up.


    they should have told you before hand the rules, and then stuck to the rules.
    if its a “cycling test” like a driving test, then fair enough

    it is in the highway code, but only for riding at night.
    if your not going to be out at night, its not a problem?

    if its more of a “stay safe kids” lesson, then they should bring along what theyve got!

    getting them on bikes is the hardest part.

    Peyote: you will probably find there are reflectors of some sort on the heels of your shoes anyway?

    Joe: call me a fashion victim, but im going to go with…. because they look crap!
    (htough i would leave them on a kids bike i think :s )

    Premier Icon Trekster

    Just back from todays cycle skills training

    36kids from 9-12pm

    P5 9/10yr olds

    3x1hr sessions

    As above, usual selection of bmx, too big, too small, borrowed, loaned, big bros, big sis, supermarket etc.

    We sent home a check sheet/mot for parents to do whatever was needed and out of that 36 we only had 2 bikes(borrowed)on which the gears cables had seized and one straight out of Argos last night needing stem tightened and brakes adjusted. Maybe 1/2doz helmets to adjust.

    Probably best day this yr

    Being a mechanic(car/factory)I never, ever assume any parent or guardian has the knowledge to fix/maintain a bike.Same as I am not a joiner/electrician or plumber

    What gets me is it seems to be the fassion to ride the wrong side of the road into oncoming trafic arroung here (south reading).

    Not just if your turning right, but all the time.

    In fact i’d say 90% of the kids are riding brakeles, on stollen bikes, on th wrong side of the road!

    Ohh and has a spesh shop been done over, becasue theres loads of kids on spesh commuter type bikes.


    Out of interest, why take reflectors off a bike? Do they make it work worse or something? Or is it just a fashion thing?

    I can see why you’d take off pedal reflectors, just because you change over the pedals, and the back one might go if you have to fit a mudguard (I guess that’s why a lot of mudguards have reflectors on), but other than that, why not just keep them on?


    In this case, the rear wheel reflector broke, so I took it and the front one off to prevent jamming the wheel or breaking spokes.
    The front one was sticking up from a bracket in the middle of the bars and I thought it could potentially cause injury in a crash.
    My daughter doesn’t ride at night, so I don’t envisage a problem.

    Wheel reflectors are particularly bad if you’ve got a nice set of wheels. How are you meant to have a sweetly tensioned, balanced wheel with a big piece of plastic wedged in the spokes? (Obviously not very important on a kid’s bike.)

    Premier Icon Del

    just to play devil’s advocate…..
    if you don’t lay out what constitutes a safe bike you can’t be blamed for any omission in the event of an accident.
    if you fix a kid’s bike in order for it to be considered safe by yourself ( instructor ), and it later has a failure, who is liable? are you qualified in bicycle repairs?
    remember there’s no such thing as an accident in today’s society.
    this is the main reason i no longer am involved, or wouldn’t go back, as an instructor in the scouts. sad i know.

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