With increased motorised traffic, riding a bicycle is becoming less and less an evident mode of transport in many European urban cities. ‘Master on the bike’ tackles this by bringing basic as well as real-life traffic cycling skills to young children.
Background & Objectives
We noticed in Belgium that an ever-increasing number of children leaves primary school without knowing how to ride a bike adequately in daily traffic. Cycling in real-life traffic surely is no easy task for young children. A good cyclist is not only in control of his vehicle but also knows how to control one's bike when being confronted with expected and unexpected traffic situations. This project aims at preparing children for this difficult task by improving their cycling skills. Not merely physical, but especially towards cycling in traffic.
Children’s cycling skills are being trained using an especially designed set of materials building a cycling circuit on the school’s playground. This set of materials provides a large variation of exercises designed to improve children’s cycling skills preparing them for daily traffic. Schoolteachers are given a manual and monitor the teaching process. Yet the project has foreseen a project coach who visits all schools and who knows how to set-up the training.
The initiation passes gradually: starting with the training of basic skills in a protected environment and ending in real life daily traffic exercising traffic tasks. It is especially this latter one that is quite new to the world of traffic education. There are many projects that aim at increasing cycling skills, but most of them do not leave the protected area of school or a specialised ‘traffic park’. These are good starting points, yet lack the experience of actual traffic circumstances.
Within this project daily traffic tasks such as turning left or turning right, cycling on a roundabout … are being practiced. Coping with difficult situations such an opening car door; trucks turning right are on the program as well. Pupils, teachers and parents can follow up the improvements of the child using individual filling cards.
Master on the bike started in February 2005. During this first year, the project visited 243 schools. Since then, the number of schools applying for the projects kept on rising from year to year. In school year 2009-2010 already 39,245 pupils from 410 schools in Flanders and Brussels participated in the project.
In 2010 and 2011 a set of teaching cards was developed, complementing the practical bicycle training of Master on the bike. Each card contains theoretical exercises as well as extra information for the teachers and is meant to be used before or after the Master on the bike training.
This project is a collaboration between Stichting Vlaamse Schoolsport (Association for Sports at Flemish Schools) who provide their know-how on physical education and motoric development - they teach the young cyclists to control their bikes - and Mobiel 21 and the Belgian Road Safety Institute who provide their traffic and mobility knowledge to prepare the young cyclists for their task as practitioners in daily traffic.
www.meesteropdefiets.be (NL + FR)