This week, I spent three busy days, training to become a Cycle Right Trainer/Instructor. In case you haven't heard, Cycle Right is the new national standard for cycle training in Ireland and it's aim is to produce safe, confident primary school aged cyclists. It was launched on 17th January this year by the Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D. Fourteen instructors took part in the training in Charleville, Cork run by Cycling Ireland.
First up, it was time classroom time for us instructors. We practiced teaching topics such as road symbols; clothing; how to carry out a bike safety check; helmet fit - everything children should know before they start to cycle on quiet roads - using pictures, games and quizzes. Then, it was onto school yard sessions where we were either teaching sessions as an instructor or pretending to be children, for the benefit of our fellow instructors (not too much acting involved, for most of us!). Cones were used to simulate road junctions and there was plenty of time to perfect our teaching of cycling left and right turns; negotiated mini-roundabouts. pedestrian crossings, all on bikes, of course!
Towards the end of the 8 hour Cycle Right programme, the school kids will get a chance (in small groups) to practice their new skills on real roads, most likely in a quiet residential area. We did the same, causing a sensation in a nearby housing estate - never before had local residents seen so many adults signalling frantically around quiet road junctions! Some local children from the estate got in on the act, following us on hover boards, bikes and scooters.
The last day, saw us learning how to teach more advanced, - Stage 2 & 3 of the programmes. This is aimed at older, more confident cyclists and involves cycling in fairly busy, real life road conditions. Unfortunately, I had to sit this part out due to a recent knee injury, so instead, I became a cyclist stalker, following behind the cycling group in my van and stopping now and then to listen in on the groups' conversations. Instructors had to make decisions on how they would negotiate real life dynamic road junctions while keeping their group safe.
As well as becoming really familiar with the information we will teach, the group developed some fun, games and skills sessions that are bound to be a hit in primary schools!
Wild Atlantic Sports looks forward to running Cycle Right in Cork primary schools in the near future. If you are a primary school teacher or a parent, keen to get your school involved, drop me a line - firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0871032317.
Happy, safe cycling! - Ruth