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Introduction and definition
Bikeability is about the ability to cycle and/or a term for the extent to which an environment is friendly for bicycling.
The term is applied in different spatial scales. The most disaggregated form addresses a person's ability to actually sit on and ride a bicycle. In larger scale Bikeability is applied as a descriptor of influence of the environment on the transport-mode-share of cycling.
Bikeability as a descriptor of the environment
Bikeability as a descriptor of the environment in which cycling takes place and accordingly to which extent such an area encourage cycling. Such descriptors – from the smallest to the largest scales – included characteristics of:
- Single elements of transport infrastructures like bicycle tracks, crossings, parking facilities, referred to by  as 'bicycle suitability'.
- Descriptors of neighborhoods where the infrastructure per se is not taken into account (; )
- Explicit area features generated around specific travelling routes of individual cyclists – e.g. as recorded by GPS. Such features can be purely geometric such as buffers or ellipsoids, or be based on the topology of a transport network.
- Entire, connected infrastructures as a functional component of entire towns and urban fabrics.
Recently the definition of Bikeability has been extended to also embrace the interurban contexts at a regional scale.
Whereas Bikeability is a relatively new term, compared to its sibling 'Walkability' having a longer history in research and planning related to active and non-motorized transport. Walkability has to a large extent served as a main inspiration of studies of the relation between cycling and the built environment.
Bikeability at the level of the individual citizens
Bikeability – at the level of the individual citizens - is the national programme for cycle training in England, Wales, and Scotland. The programme is purely voluntary – schools may sign up to host classes for children. Adults may also join classes. In England and Wales, the programme is based on the National Standard for Cycle Training, a UK Government standard run by the Department for Transport and approved by RoSPA, Road Safety GB, British Cycling, CTC, Sustrans and Cycling England.
The Bikeability training programme
There are three levels to Bikeability:
- Level 1 (red badge) covers basic bike handling skills and is delivered in a traffic-free environment, such as a playground
- Level 2 (amber badge) is taught on quiet roads but in real traffic conditions and covers simple manoeuvres and road sense
- Level 3 (green badge) covers more complex situations and equips the cyclist to handle a wide range of traffic conditions and road layouts.
Bikeability is an all-ages programme. The lower levels replace the Cycling Proficiency scheme, which was targeted mainly at children. Levels 2 and 3 correspond to the skills delivered by the US Effective Cycling programme developed by John Forester.
Training for children and adults alike progresses through the three levels. Schools training is often over four to six weeks, during normal school hours, starting off with control skills and progressing to on-road training but not necessarily reaching Level 3. There is no test. On completion children may be awarded badges, booklets and/or certificates.
This programme is now being delivered across the United Kingdom, usually with some form of government funding for training in schools and sometimes with subsidised or free training for adults.
Administration and management
Bikeability is administered by the Department for Transport. In order to be able to use the Bikeability name and to be able to award Bikeability badges, a 'scheme' must be registered by Cycling England. In addition to guaranteeing that its instructors are qualified National Standard Instructors and that training will be delivered according to the National Standard, a scheme must give evidence that it has appropriate insurance, child protection policies and risk assessment processes.
The Cycle Training Standards Board controls the standard of training of instructors and the standard of cycle training to be delivered to children and adults.
The Bikeability programme is delivered in Scotland under the name Bikeability Scotland. It is managed by Cycling Scotland, and delivered by a combination of local authority officers such as Road Safety Officers, Active School Coordinators and volunteers.
- Official website for England and Wales
- Official website for Scotland
- Cycle Training UK
- The Association of Bikeability Schemes
- List adapted from Nielsen, T.A.S., & Skov-Petersen, H. (2018). Bikeability – Urban structures supporting cycling. Effects of local, urban and regional scale urban form factors on cycling from home and workplace locations in Denmark. Journal of Transport Geography, 69, 36–44. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2018.04.015
- Lowry, M., Callister, D., Gresham, M., Moore, B., 2012. Assessment of communitywide bikeability with bicycle level of service. Transp. Res. Rec. 2314. doi:10.3141/2314-06
- Nielsen, T.A.S., Olafsson, A.S., Carstensen, T.A., Skov-Petersen, H., 2013. Environmental correlates of cycling: evaluating urban form and location effects based on Danish micro-data. Transp. Res. D 22, 40–44. doi:10.1016/j.trd.2013.02.017.
- Greenberg, M.R., Renne, M.J., 2005. Where does walkability matter the most? An environmental justice interpretation of New Jersey data. J. Urban Health 82 (1), 90–100
- Madsen, T., Schipperijn, J., Christiansen, L.B., Nielsen, T.S., Troelsen, J., 2014. Developing suitable buffers to capture transport cycling behavior. Front. Public Health 2 (61). doi:10.3389/fpubh.2014.00061.
- Nielsen, T.A.S., & Skov-Petersen, H. (2018). Bikeability – Urban structures supporting cycling. Effects of local, urban and regional scale urban form factors on cycling from home and workplace locations in Denmark. Journal of Transport Geography, 69, 36–44. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2018.04.015
- Saelens, B. E., Sallis, J. F., & Frank, L. D. (2003). Environmental correlates of walking and cycling: findings from the transportation, urban design, and planning literatures. Annals of behavioral medicine, 25(2), 80–91.
- Muhs, C.D., Clifton, K.J., 2016. Do characteristics of walkable environments support bicycling? Toward a definition of bicycle-supported development. J. Transp. Land Use 9 (2)