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What is Bikeability
By Mike de Coster-Milman, posted 18 September 2017

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JRtB explain what Bikeability is, and why it's an important safety aid for all cyclists

Bikeability is cycling training which enables riders to improve their skills to become safer and better cyclists. The number of vehicles on the road is at an all-time high….and so are the number of cyclists. In recent years cycling has increased in popularity enormously, unfortunately as the number of cyclists increases, so have the number of incidents on the road involving cyclists and other road users.

Bikeability is managed by the Department for Transport (DfT). The course is delivered by National Standard Instructors who are trained and registered as NSI Qualified trainers who will deliver Bikeability in accordance to the National Standards as set by the DfT.

Bikeability consists of three levels. To progress from one level to the other, the rider must complete and demonstrate that they have understood and can apply the outcomes in each level.

Photo by Igor Peftiev on Unsplash

Bikeability is suitable for children as well as adults. It is something which has become very popular in recent years in schools with many of them signing up for the courses. For older readers, it’s the modern version of the Cycling Proficiency scheme.

Level 1

Level 1 of Bikeability is carried out off road in a safe and traffic free area. Before riders get on their bikes they are taught how to carry out two types of bike checks to ensure their bicycle is safe. One is an M check and the other is an ABC check. The M check is a thorough systematic check which covers major parts of the bike. Starting with spokes, checking the wheel is secure, tyres, handlebars, brakes, pedals, cranks, saddle ad chain. ABC is a quick Air, Brakes and Tyre check. Once this has been completed, riders are then shown how to make sure their helmets are fitted properly (if worn). There is also a brief discussion about adequate clothing.

To achieve level 1 riders must be able to:

  • Get on/ off their bike unassisted

  • Set off unassisted

  • Ride in a straight line with one hand

  • Look behind

  • Demonstrate awareness of obstacles and other road users

  • Perform an emergency stop in a controlled manner


In a nutshell, they must demonstrate that they will be in control of their bike and safe to the on the road in real traffic. If the rider achieves the above outcomes, they may progress on to Level 2.

The 'M' check

Level 2


To achieve Level 2, a rider must demonstrate that that they are able to:

  • Adequately ride in primary/ secondary (also known as pass me/ follow me) riding positions depending on the manoeuvre they wish to perform or to deal with road layouts/ situations.

  • Safely turn in/ out left/ right adopting the correct road positioning

  • Pass a junction safely

  • Execute a U turn safely

  • Passing a stationary vehicle and how to avoid getting doored


Once the practical parts have been carried out, instructors will also discuss with student’s different aspects of the Highway Code as well as road signs. Once a rider has achieved Level 2, they may progress onto Level 3.

Photo by Petar Petkovski on Unsplash

Level 3

Level 3 of Bikeability deals with busy traffic, to achieve Level 3, a rider must demonstrate they can apply the following outcomes:

  • Passing a queue of traffic

  • Show an understanding of driver blind spots

  • Deal with roundabouts

  • Deal with traffic lights

  • Anticipate and deal with a variety of road hazards including road surfaces


The three levels are geared to give cyclists all the knowledge and tools to enable them to keep themselves safe on the road and maximise their cycling enjoyment.

More details available from:

To find a course near you:

Mike de Coster-Milman is a Bikeability trainer and NSI qualified, lives in Madagascar for most of the year and runs a website called

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