On Tuesday 12 May, just days after the General Election, Manchester’s National Cycling Centre hosted the fourth annual Bikeability Training Conference. A total of 187 delegates attended, representing local authority grant providers, cycling groups and Bikeability schemes that deliver cycle training across the country.
With the change in government so recent, the opening speech made reference to the fact that, whilst the prospects for ongoing funding seemed fairly secure, it was still very important to ensure that positive messages about Bikeability were broadcast to local decision makers and MPs. Chairing the conference, Phillip Darnton OBE highlighted this aim:
“Here in a venue that has played a significant part in providing so many gold medals and world records, we are one united voice and we will never compromise in striving for excellence. We find ourselves surrounded by Great Britain’s elite while sharing ideas and experiences as an industry, with the aim of getting more school children to get on their bikes and learn to ride with confidence. Such a spectrum is truly inspiring and I have great faith that what we take away from the conference will result in significant progress for the delivery of Bikeability, nationwide.”
A schedule of 30 varied workshops, presentations and practical sessions meant that delegates were able to share knowledge, update their skills and learn about successful initiatives from around the country. Some of the conference sessions were held from inside the velodrome itself, while a number of groups headed out on their bikes to receive practical Bikeability training in and around the National Cycling Centre.
During the break over lunch, 80 delegates took advantage of an opportunity to go behind the scenes at the venue and were given access to parts of the facility that the public do not usually see. On this tour the group visited the BMX track and velodrome, experiencing first-hand what it was like to be a Great Britain Cycling Team athlete training at the National Cycling Centre.
Wrapping up the conference, British Cycling’s Recreation Education and Cycle Training Manager, Nick Chamberlin, thanked delegates:
“By attending this conference in such numbers, you have shown incredible support for the wider industry and enthusiasm that reiterates the theme of the opening address. If we continue to foster this approach of sharing best practice and being advocates for the important role Bikeability plays for young people, we are sure to see significant change.”
With an additional networking event in November to showcase Bikeability’s achievements and potential to key stakeholders and funders, 2015 is set to be a dynamic year for the industry.