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Cycle Training for Children Not Increasing Participation

children cycling cycle training

Source: Adelaide Now

Cycle training for children improves skill levels as you would expect but this study of primary children in Belgium recently published in Accident Analysis and Prevention does not find evidence of increased participation or improved attitudes in parents towards cycling five months after their participation in cycle training. Whilst it is great and probably expected that skills levels improved it is disappointed to see this not being translated into greater numbers of children riding to school.

The Key Conclusion – Cycle Training for Children Not Improving Participation

In the abstract of the paper the authors report …

The cycle training course was effective in improving children’s cycling skills and the improvements were maintained 5 months later. However, the cycle training course was not effective in increasing children’s cycling to school levels.

Key Conclusions from the Cycle Training for Children Study

Below is an overview from the paper highlighting the findings of the study. A full read of the paper is warranted to get a more complete understanding.

  • The study is based on a training course undertaken at three primary schools in Flanders, Belgium in which 130 4th grade students participated in the intervention study, a cycle training course followed by a study of short-term and long-term effects (five months).
  • The results of this study indicated that the cycle training course, consisting of four sessions, was effective in improving children’s basic cycling skills and that these improvements were maintained five months later which is a great outcome, particularly the retention of knowledge or rather the skills.
  • The largest improvement in skill levels as a result of the cycle training was in the children’s ability to signal changes of direction.
  • The authors also noted a large improvements for cycling one-handed (left and right) in a circle. They do note that one of the four sessions in the cycle training course was fully allocated to one-handed steering skills, which might explain the good results.
  • The children participating in the cycle training showed significant improvements in their ability to mount the bicycles.
  • On the downside the results of this study indicate that the cycle training course of four sessions did not affect children’s cycling to school levels and even with parental buy-in, there was no evidence of an increase in cycling to school following the cycle training.
  • Furthermore, the intervention, the cycle training failed to shift parental attitudes to be more favourable towards cycling to school.

Cycle Training for Children Study – The Abstract

Introduction

The primary aim of the present study was to evaluate the short and longer-term effects of a cycle training on children’s cycling skills. A second aim of the study was to examine the effects of a cycle training, with and without parental involvement, on levels of cycling to school and on parental attitudes towards cycling.

Methods

Three participating schools were randomly assigned to the “intervention” (25 children), the “intervention plus parent” (34 children) or “control” condition (35 children). A cycle training (four sessions of 45 min) took place only in the intervention schools. Parents in the “intervention plus parent” condition were asked to assist their child in completing weekly homework tasks. Children’s cycling skills were assessed, using a practical cycling test. All participating children also received a short parental questionnaire on cycling behavior and parental attitudes towards cycling. Assessments took place at baseline, within 1 week after the last session and at 5-months follow-up. Repeated measure analyses were conducted to evaluate the effects of the cycle training.

Results
Children’s total cycling skill score increased significantly more from pre to post and from pre to 5-months follow-up in the intervention group than in the control group. On walking with the bicycle (F = 1.6), cycling in a straight line (F = 2.6), cycling a slalom (F = 1.9), cycling over obstacles (F = 2.1), cycling on a sloping surface (F = 1.7) and dismounting the bicycle (F = 2.0), the cycle training had no effect. For all other cycling skills, significant improvements were observed on short- and longer-term. No significant intervention effects were found on children’s cycling to school levels (F = 1.9) and parental attitudes towards cycling.

Conclusion

The cycle training course was effective in improving children’s cycling skills and the improvements were maintained 5 months later. However, the cycle training course was not effective in increasing children’s cycling to school levels.

The full reference for the paper is:

Ducheyne, F., De Bourdeaudhuij, L., Lenoir, M., & Cardon, G. (2014). Effects of a cycle training course on children’s cycling skills and levels of cycling to school. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 67, 49-60.

Other studies related to children cycling are listed in the Cycling Research page.

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