Why wait until the driver’s licence? We can teach children safe cycling in school. In the Netherlands, the school children take a traffic exam on their bikes when they are just 11 years old. With a rite of passage on bicycles, are we surprised that the Netherlands is a cycling nation. The nature of a rite of passage is something to celebrate!
The Best Practice Dutch Cycling is an inspiring publication from Dutch Cycling Embassy with lots of good benchmark practices. A short instruction guide for approach cycling as transport correctly. In the ACT, we would do well to learn from the best.
Cycling part of school education
We want children to cycle to school, however, they need to be able to do that safely. This is in part about safe off-road infrastructure but also teaching kids what they need to know to navigate the street network.
- Location: National
- Duration of the project: 1932 – Ongoing
- Involved organisations: Schools, Municipalities, VVN
Reason for intervention
It is very important for Dutch children that they have the freedom to cycle to school or to their friends independently. It is crucial that schools spend time teaching children about behaviour and rules in traffic in order to maintain themselves in traffic safely and help build confidence, both for the kids and their parents. This is preferably done throughout their whole education at primary school. For most Dutch children, being mobile and independent is a crucial part in their social life.S Wiersma, ‘Best Practice Dutch Cycling’, in Dutch Cycling Embassy, https://dutchcycling.nl/en/bestpractices [accessed 8 September 2021], 51.
The organisation VVN examines children on their knowledgeS Wiersma, ‘Best Practice Dutch Cycling’, in Dutch Cycling Embassy, https://dutchcycling.nl/en/bestpractices [accessed 8 September 2021], 51.
and practice when they are around 11 years old. During this practical exam, children show that they know how to behave in traffic during real situations.
The VVN Practical Traffic exam tests the behaviour of children on their bicycles in their neighbourhood. It also shows how they apply their knowledge of traffic in real situations. The route is established by connecting various different points of importance such as a crossroads, roundabouts, traffic lights, or railroad crossings. In the weeks approaching the exam, parents can practice the route with their child(ren) and give pointers where necessary. This prepares them to take the practical exam with confidence.S Wiersma, ‘Best Practice Dutch Cycling’, in Dutch Cycling Embassy, https://dutchcycling.nl/en/bestpractices [accessed 8 September 2021], 51.
1 The exam route should be close to school, as those are the bike lanes the children use the most in their daily routine.S Wiersma, ‘Best Practice Dutch Cycling’, in Dutch Cycling Embassy, https://dutchcycling.nl/en/bestpractices [accessed 8 September 2021], 51.
2 It is important that children practice the route before the exam to take away some of the nerves. Children who practiced the route with their parents are more confident during the exam.
3 Parents and teachers are volunteering alongside the route to examine the children in cooperation with VVN. This increases the engagement of parents with the traffic education and reduces costs.