MORE Devon schoolchildren than ever before will receive Bikeability cycle training in the coming financial year after the county council secured £300,000 from the Department for Transport to train around 7,500 youngsters.

Bikeability is a national initiative providing ‘cycling proficiency’ for the 21st Century which has been adopted by the county council as the cycle training standard in the county.

Around 7,000 Devon pupils have taken part in training over the past year.

Since the county council started delivering the scheme in Exeter in 2006 – before extending it countywide in 2010 – over 27,000 children in the county have undergone Bikeability training.

Children who take part are given real cycling experience and skills to equip them to confidently deal with traffic on short journeys, such as cycling to school.

Cllr Stuart Hughes, county council cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “Bikeability is helping to make cycling a popular, accessible and safer activity for thousands of pupils each year.

“I’m delighted more young people than ever before will be able to benefit from this training over the next 12 months thanks to our successful bid for DfT funding.

“Bikeability provides essential cycling skills and confidence as well as road safety awareness.

“Parents especially will be encouraged to know the number of cyclists at age 15 or under who were injured on Devon’s roads in 2012 fell by 21% compared to 2011, and by 44% compared to the average number injured in the previous five years.

“The county council’s Bikeability programme is encouraging healthy, sustainable and safer travel across the county, and I’d recommend the training to any parent who wants their child to cycle."

The county council will use the funding to deliver Level 1 and Level 2 training for children aged nine to 14, as well as Level 3 advanced cycling for children of secondary school age who have already completed Level 2.