Thousand cyclists get on their bikes to stay safe on roads
A RECORD number of people aged from six to 60-plus completed cycle training courses in Torbay in 2012.
A total of 1,100 cyclists learned during the year how to stay safe on the Bay's roads and this year new courses are to be provided for secondary school pupils.
Michele Radant, Torbay Council's Bikeability cycling officer, said: "There has been a massive increase in demand for our services.
"We attribute this to a combination of factors.
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"The success of British cyclists in the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was hugely influential, but other key factors including environmental issues and the rising cost of fuel have also played a part in the increase.
"We have continued to build on our success in primary schools."
In the last academic year Bikeability Level 2 courses were taken by children in every primary school in Torbay, with an increase in uptake in almost all of them.
Mrs Radant said: "We have also expanded our services to include training for younger children from the age of six upwards with Learn to Ride sessions and Bikeability Level One.
"These sessions have proved very popular."
Torbay Sports Partnership has also successfully bid to deliver Bikeability Level Three in Torbay secondary schools, teaching more advanced skills to deal with busier road conditions.
One-day Bikeability courses have also been introduced for adults to learn the skills and confidence to be able to ride on the road.
Mrs Radant added: "We have received terrific feedback from each course we have run."
Torbay Council's collaboration with British Cycling led to the Bay starting a Breeze programme of free group rides for women which is funded by the National Lottery.
These have proved so popular the council has also introduced Breeze Bikeability courses as well.
Mrs Radant said: "It's not just cycle training which is doing so well — other areas of cycling are also thriving.
"Local cycling clubs are seeing their largest increase in membership for many years for both children and adults.
"Major local cycling events such as the Dartmoor Classic organised by Mid Devon Cycling Club, held in June and which this year will have 3,000 entrants from far and wide, have also contributed to the number of cyclists on the road.
"Once events have been entered the training begins.
"In May we are looking forward to welcoming the Tour Series Professional Bike Race back to Torbay.
"We are hoping this will encourage even more people to get on their bikes."
Torbay Council's executive lead for safer communities and transport, Cllr Robert Excell, said: "It is really encouraging to see more and more people taking up cycling, as we are very keen to promote sustainable forms of transport."