· 36 per cent of primary school parents told researchers their children have not ridden a bike on any occasion in the last year
· The figure rises to 41 per cent for those in cities and 49 per cent in London
· 1 in 20 primary school children in the UK have NEVER ridden a bike
· Parents blame lack of safe spaces and dangerous traffic for the demise in children cycling
They once gave youngsters their first taste of freedom, but new data suggests many children are no longer getting on their bikes.
In a survey of more than 2,000 parents of UK primary school children, only a third (34 per cent) told researchers their kids had ridden a bike in the last month.
More worryingly, the research discovered that 36 per cent – over 1.6 million – primary school children had not been on a bike in 2021, at all.
Incredibly, 1 in every 20 (5 per cent) said their child had never ridden a bike, which equates to over 230,000 primary school children in the UK.
The poll by British bike brand, Raleigh, found that school children in cities were the least likely to have used a bike this year (41 per cent) with the figure reaching almost half (49 per cent) of those in London.
Even for those who are riding bikes, half (49 per cent) said they spend under an hour each month cycling, or 2 minutes per day on average.
Many adults will recall being allowed to cycle to see their friends, but it appears parents view it as too dangerous these days.
Among the main reasons for not riding a bike more often are that there aren’t enough safe, local spaces (20 per cent) or that traffic is too hazardous (20 per cent).
But parents do want their children to cycle. In fact, two-thirds (67 per cent) cited it as one of the vital life skills to pass onto children, alongside swimming and money management.
As well as safer roads and spaces (58 per cent), parents felt bringing back the Cycling Proficiency Tests to every school would encourage their child to get on their bike.
Commenting on the new research, Raleigh UK spokesperson Michelle Jakeway said: “Most adults will remember the sense of freedom riding a bike brought them and we saw once again just how much happiness cycling can bring during the lockdowns, with record numbers of grown-ups getting on two wheels.
“So, it’s a real shame to see that many kids aren’t getting to experience that too.
“The simple joy of cycling, and the health benefits it can bring, should be encouraged and open to everyone.”
In order to help get more children riding bikes, Raleigh has developed a set of top tips for parents:
1. Start by making sure their bike fits properly and they can comfortably reach the brakes, gears and pedals so they feel safe.
2. Build confidence by practising skills together in a traffic free environment. Bikes are fun so use games to improve their balance. Make little race circuits in the park so they need to weave between trees and practice stopping and starting.
3. Lead by example. A lot of parenting is about modelling the behaviour you want to see in your children. As a family, start using your bikes together for short trips or fun days out.
4. Give them a reason to cycle by choosing a destination they enjoy visiting such as the park or the ice-cream van!
5. Let them bond with their bikes! Encourage kids to choose accessories from helmets, to reflectors and decorate their bike so they are proud of it.
For more information on Raleigh visit: raleigh.co.uk