Have your say: Stage Two engagement

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The rationale

The draft revised National Standard for Cycle Training:

  • Is focused on how people cycle, not how many or how often people cycle. It recognises that it will contribute to more people cycling, more safely, more often, alongside other interventions that also encourage cycling (e.g. educational, engineering and enforcement interventions).
  • Is competence based and describes the skills, knowledge and understanding required for competent cycling and instruction.
  • Replaces the previous ‘flat’ structure of task-based outcomes with a ‘hierarchy’ of functional roles, units and elements. The aim is to increase clarity, and reduce the scope for inconsistent interpretation of the National Standard.
  • Comprises six roles and 16 units. Roles 1-5 set out what competent cycling looks like; Role 6 sets out what competent cycling instruction looks like (the basis for instructor training). This new structure provides the basis for a range of award ‘pathways’ to be created using different combinations of units.
  • Separates observable performance (presented as ‘I can’ statements) from comprehension (presented as ‘I understand’ statements). This approach will enable the development of theory-based resources to help learner riders improve their cycling competence.

For clarity: The National Standard is not the Bikeability training programme – the National Standard contains the outcomes used in Bikeability training.  The draft revised National Standard no longer includes the training and assessment advice, good practice training principles and training ratios found in the current National Standard – these will be moved into separate Bikeability delivery guidance for training providers, to eliminate duplication and repetition.

Frequently Asked Questions

To help you fully understand the changes that have been made and why, take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions here:

The National Standard sets out the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to cycle safely and responsibly. By setting out exactly what is needed to cycle, and to enable others to cycle, the National Standard makes clear what is needed to train and assess learner riders.

The National Standard is for everyone, regardless of ability, who rides any type of cycle everywhere cycling is permitted, and for cycling instructors:

  • National Standard Roles 1 to 4 are for preparing to cycle, guiding and controlling a variety of cycles, and cycling in different road environments and traffic conditions;
  • Role 5 is for learning from experience and improving cycling competence; and
  • Role 6 is for instructors who design, deliver and improve training that enables safe and responsible cycling to the National Standard.

The National Standard can be used by anyone. It is particularly useful for people who cycle, other road users, cycling instructors, driving instructors, cycle training organisations, standard setting bodies, awarding organisations, education and training providers, and producers of learning resources.

The easiest way to think about this is that National Standard is larger than Bikeability. The revised National Standard will be made available for people who cycle without training and for other road users, to encourage safer and more responsible shared road use. Not all of the units contained within the revised National Standard will be included in Bikeability awards at Levels 1, 2 and 3, but they may be used in other awards or guidance.

The National Standard is the key source material for cycle training, and also a platform for clear advice and guidance about cycling for all road users

The Stage One engagement with the industry highlighted a number of potential improvements that could be made to the National Standard. Some of these improvements do require significant change to achieve them. For example, the engagement highlighted that the National Standard should be made consistent with other road-use National Standards such as the National Standards for Driving and for Riding Mopeds and Motorcycles. This can only be achieved by changing the overall structure of the National Standard. Established National Standards are typically competence based and have a hierarchical structure that delineates the main functions (roles) and component parts (units and elements) of competent performance. These key characteristics have been incorporated into the draft revised National Standard.

The draft revised National Standard maintains/retains the key things that people said they valued about the existing National Standard. For example, the draft revised National Standard will also give Bikeability cycle training authority and purpose, provide flexibility for innovative delivery, set a progressive structure for realistic, positive and practical training delivery, and enable safer, more confident cycling.

The draft revised National Standard is focused on how people cycle, not how many or how often people cycle. This aligns with established National Standards which focus on competence. However, it recognises that the revised National Standard will contribute to more people cycling, more safely, more often alongside other educational, engineering and enforcement interventions that also encourage cycling.

The hope is that the draft revised National Standard is simpler in nature and more straightforward to use:

  • It has a slightly wider scope than it had previously – it now provides a comprehensive description of competent cycling and cycling instruction, including a focus on reviewing and improving cycling competence throughout life. It therefore represents a more holistic approach.
  • Its simplicity stems from a focus on the core principles/ functions that matter most in everyday cycling: observation, road position, communication, understanding priorities, and independent decision making. Statements of what individuals should be expected to be able to do, know and understand for each outcome aim to provide clarity.
  • It is now presented in its entirety in one document. Previously, the trainee outcomes were presented separately to the Instructor outcomes, the Instructor Trainer outcomes, and the Bikeability Plus module outcomes.
  • The new structure has enabled the principle of award ‘pathways’ to be introduced to be more inclusive, which means that not all units within the draft revised National Standard are relevant to all users at all times. Essentially the draft revised National Standard is a long menu of elements to choose from, according to the award required (please see below for more on award ‘pathways’).

The existing National Standard published in 2012 looks and feels very different to other established road-use National Standards (such as those for driving, moped/motorcycle riding and driver/rider training), and this might potentially limit its impact on better shared road use.

The Stage One engagement with the industry found that there was a clear desire for the National Standard for Cycle Training to be better aligned with these other established road use National Standards to help raise awareness of it amongst all road users. Structuring it in line with other established road use national standards also means that it follows established good practice of separation of observable performance from comprehension; separation of training delivery and assessment guidance from the National Standard; and a clear focus on competency.


The National Standard has been made more inclusive as follows:

  • It may be accessed with assistance by people with physical, cognitive or coordination restrictions
  • Changes to terminology: it uses ‘cycle’ throughout so is inclusive of all types of cycle that riders may use, including balance bikes, bicycles, tricycles, quad-cycles, handcycles, etc.
  • It now includes a high profile, overarching statement regarding its use by cyclists of all abilities and using all types of cycle.
  • It enables a greater choice of award ‘pathways’ with different combinations of National Standard units/elements for the progression and achievement of more trainees to be recognised, particularly prior to Bikeability Level 1, and for disabled people or people with additional needs.

With the current National Standard, trainees have to remember a large number of outcomes relating to the Bikeability Level they are participating in, all apparently of equal value. The draft revised National Standard instead encourages trainees to focus on a few core principles/functions that matter most in everyday cycling: observation, road position, communication, understanding priorities, and independent decision making. These are referenced throughout the units that make up the revised National Standard, to encourage their application in training and everyday cycling.

The revised National Standard is intended to support cycling throughout life, and encourage people to improve their cycling over time. In order to improve, people who cycle should do more than master cycling in particular locations. They need to learn from experience and keep up to date with changes, for example in the development of new components and technological advances. People who cycle over a lifetime are likely to ride different types of cycles, for which additional training or guidance may be required. The revised National Standards supports this continuing development.

A review of instructor training is running in parallel with the National Standard review. The revised National Standard will provide outcomes for the new instructor qualifications, so there are clearly important links between the two workstreams.

A paper setting out the proposed arrangements for a new instructor training system which incorporates external regulation and a separation of core functions, was circulated to the industry in September 2017. As part of these arrangements, an externally-regulated awarding organisation will develop and award new instructor qualifications based on the revised National Standard. Instructor training courses leading to these qualifications will be delivered by centres approved by the awarding organisation.

The existing ‘off the shelf’ instructor courses currently used to train NSIs, NSIAs and NSITs, will in time be replaced by instructor training courses created by approved delivery centres of the awarding organisation. Therefore, although they are within the scope of this review, there is no intention to update them at this point given the wider changes to come.

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