Long-term e-bike subscription service Swapfiets is trialling the first e-cycling proficiency course in the UK.
The initiative aims to tackle people’s lack of confidence cycling in city centres.
A survey conducted by the Netherlands-based company revealed that, though 30% of adults want to cycle more, 67% do not feel confident doing so in an urban environment. The study interviewed 2,000 people across the country.
Fears of being hit by a vehicle (68%), encountering cars with road rage (54%) and getting lost (27%) top the list of the nation’s anxieties when it comes to cycling in towns and cities.
Further anxieties include not knowing road safety rules, falling from the bike, potholes and poorly maintained roads, heavy traffic and bike theft.
Zag spoke with Swapfiets Co-Founder and Director of Sustainability Richard Burger about how the idea came about.
“What we learned over the last two years of being active is that for a lot of people that grow up in the Netherlands, as soon as they start to walk, they learn to cycle. But that’s a bit different compared to the UK cycling culture, which is very much still in development.
“Here, our research shows that people still feel anxious on a bike due to the city traffic, not knowing where to go or also maybe just not knowing how to cycle that well, so we saw an opportunity to provide a one day course to improve this.”
Present in eight countries across Europe, Swapfiets is now focusing on consolidating its existing operations. “We grew very rapidly from 2018 to 2021, now we also need to spend our time building a good business to serve our members well,” said Burger.
Swapfiets one-day course, which will take place in London, is inspired by the national compulsory basic training (CBT) course required by motorcyclists to become road-legal drivers.
The course consists of three class levels tailored to beginners, intermediates and advanced riders.
It will start in a closed-off area to take riders through the basics of being road safe, from emergency stopping and signalling.
Riders then test those tips on quiet streets until finally trialling them out on London’s busy streets.
The ‘E-Cycling Proficiency Course’ is being trialled on 29th April from 11am to 3pm in Shoreditch. It is free of charge and run by cycling safety professionals. Anyone can sign up for either the whole course or specific classes.