Play on Pedals, a project that is enabling every pre-school child in Glasgow to learn to ride a bike, celebrated a milestone this month by reaching over 7,000 children with this important life skill.
The award nominated partnership project from Cycling UK, Cycling Scotland, The Glasgow Bike Station and Play Scotland has worked with 7,148 children since it began two and a half years ago.
Play on Pedals is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and was awarded £232,000 by the People’s Postcode Dream Trust Fund in 2014. It was the dream of Play on Pedals to enable every pre-school child in Glasgow to learn to ride a bike, and it feels like Christmas has come early for the project and its volunteers with the target 7,000 children now exceeded.
Children celebrated with Santa at a Play on Pedals drop-in session in Govan on Saturday 3rd December, where they had the opportunity to try out balance and pedal bikes and receive support from Play on Pedals Instructors to learn to pedal; Dr Bike mechanics also provided bike safety checks and Santa was there to meet and congratulate the children.
This event was one of 230 community events run by Play on Pedals across Glasgow since 2014. There have also been 364 instructors and instructor trainers trained to teach children to ride, and grants have been given to 35 organisations to develop the project locally. Early years organisations have embraced the project too, with 182 nurseries and childcare establishments across the city getting involved.
As well as being lots of fun, learning to ride a bike is an important life skill. The children that have learned to cycle with Play on Pedals have developed both physically and socially, with changes to their confidence, resilience and interactions with their peers being noted by instructors. Children at Glasgow’s early-years establishments have enjoyed at least eight weeks on the bikes, learning how to balance, steer, brake and pedal.
Many participating centres have purchased their own bikes or received donations from Play on Pedals bike amnesties, enabling them to develop their programmes for younger children. Over 450 balance and pedal bikes are now in use across Glasgow thanks to the project, enabling the continued delivery of training and activities for pre-school children.
Polly Jarman, Play on Pedals Development Officer said:
‘We are delighted to have reached so many children with Play on Pedals; we’ve worked really hard to deliver high quality training and to provide lots of fun opportunities for children to get involved, so we are over the moon to have achieved our dream. It’s been a huge but massively rewarding challenge, and we want to thank the groups and individuals across the city who have supported the project and helped us to enable every pre-school child in Glasgow to ride a bike.’
Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “It is fantastic news to hear that Play on Pedals has not only reached but exceeded their target of reaching 7,000 children. Over 7,000 pre-school children in Glasgow have been taught how to ride a bike thanks to this project. As a result of funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery through the Dream Fund this dream has now become a reality.”
Cherie Morgan, Strategy and Development Officer at Play Scotland, one of the Play on Pedals partner organisations, said:
‘Developing a playful and relaxed approach to engaging children with the bikes has been key to the success of this project. By enabling children to play and have fun on a range of bikes in their familiar nursery environment we have seen children go from balancing to pedaling in a matter of weeks. It has been great to work with so many practitioners who can see the wider benefits of the programme, and through the community development part of the project, we have been able to support families where bike ownership might be an issue.’
Christopher Johnson, Senior Development Officer at Cycling Scotland, said:
“Cycling Scotland is proud to be part of the Play on Pedals partnership, which has allowed over 7000 pre-school children across Glasgow to cycle confidently as part of an active and healthy lifestyle. We are committed to supporting children to enjoy all the benefits of cycling, across Glasgow and beyond and look forward to working with partners to ensure that more children across Scotland can participate. With support from Transport Scotland we have already been able to offer Play on Pedals Instructor Training to local authority nurseries in many other parts of Scotland”
Suzanne Forup, Cycling UK’s Head of Development in Scotland said:
“We’re delighted to have achieved our dream of reaching 7000 pre-school children in Glasgow with the fun, freedom and joy of cycling through Play on Pedals. Learning to ride a bike is an essential life skill; learning at a young age establishes active habits and encourages families to consider cycling as a real transport option if the conditions are right. Cycling UK’s vision is of a happier, healthier and cleaner world because more people cycle and we hope that more families in Glasgow will soon be able to choose to cycle with their children.”