The Delivery of Professional Cycle Training to Large Numbers of School Children by a Social Business
C Langdon, Cycling Solutions Community Interest Company, UK
The social enterprise is described as a model for delivering cycle training to school children in the U.K. With over 11,000 children a year trained on roads by profession staff. The author believes similar systems could be introduced elsewhere.
This paper examines the social enterprise as a model for delivering cycle training and promotion. Businesses with a social conscience have been around for a long time, but not in the cycling world, with the notable exceptions of bike-recycling and retail cooperatives. In this paper a new type of social enterprise, more in line with traditional limited companies, is examined to see if can be effective for the delivery of cycling activities.
Cycling Solutions is an economically stable social enterprise based in Liverpool, Merseyside, one of the most deprived areas of the UK., it was one of the first to take advantage of the UK Governments initiative to broaden the scope of social business in the country by introducing a new type of company, the Community Interest Company (CIC). The company is under contract to deliver the training on behalf of local administrations and is currently delivering the largest cycle training scheme to school children in the U.K.
In order to deliver fully accredited cycle training to over 11,000 children in a metropolitan area the company finds it necessary to directly employ profession staff, this is the only way the company can guarantee the availability of staff when needed and, most importantly, retain the level of quality of service delivery required.
Even though it is a social business Cycling Solutions has to find work in a competitive market place, but it does have some advantages, both internally and for any contracting administration:
1.Firstly, as a not-for-profit organisation the margin needed to keep the company solvent is smaller.
2.Secondly, any surplus made goes into promoting cycling.
3.Thirdly, we are very responsive to change.
4.Fourthly, we provide meaningful jobs to local people. Our flexibility allows some sectors of the community, who couldn't otherwise manage the hours demanded by a regular job, to hold down work. The job satisfaction feedback we get from staff is fantastic.
5.Finally, our 'asset lock' means that the shareholders don't get a dividend, none of our funds goes to line shareholders pockets.
The company proclaims itself to be a 'Cycle promotion and Training Organisation' yet most of its energies are directed towards cycle training because we believe that cycle training is the best way to improve the number of people cycling. It doesn't demand expensive infrastructure and proper training allows people to make journeys where they need to, from their doorstep to destination. It dispels any perceptions that cycling is a less safe mode of transport. People learn to control the road environment around them to their benefit.
We also believe that recipients of effective cycle training become better overall road users, whatever mode they choose to use.
The training that is delivered is to the U.K.'s National Standard, known as 'Bikeability'. The training mainly takes place in an on-road environment, giving the student real skills to cope with real traffic. The training is delivered in a wholly positive manner to emphasise that cycling is a safe activity.
There are three Bikeability levels covering the complete range of skills from absolute beginner through to those who need to make trips safely on busy roads, possibly with complex junctions and road features.
We believe that similar systems of cycle training delivery will work in other places and we would welcome the opportunity to explain and demonstrate how it works to delegates. Especially those from places with a lack of cycling infrastructure and where cyclists, if they exist at all, are expected to be part of the traffic.
Association for European Transport