A supervised ‘safe cycle playground’ aims to allow children (3-10) to have fun learning the cycling rules of the road in a safe environment. This involves setting out a mini version of a road network, including replicas of items such as stop signs, give ways, roundabouts and speed bumps. Volunteers coach participants around the course to ensure they understand safety rules of the road, for example when to stop, and how to be aware of their surroundings. This is sometimes done through verbal explanation, but also through encouraging older children to help with coaching. This allows children to build an understanding of how road users and pedestrians interact, which the participants can build on as they grow older. A key element is for participants to learn how to cycle whilst at the same time starting to understand the way that roads work. Sessions take place in non-traffic areas ensuring parents and carers feel comfortable in their child’s participation.
The project has an added benefit of encouraging social integration between families. Parents remain present during the session, which leads to more social integration as they chat to one another (and perhaps become a bit more interested in cycling themselves).
Each session lasts about two and a half hours and takes around one hour to set up. Sessions are run every month.
Target audience and engagement
• The key target audience is families and carers with children aged 3-10
• Engagement is through schools and children’s provisions in the area. Twitter and social media can also help to reach those who might not fully engage with children’s schools.
• Posters and flyers, available both at events and for targeted promotion, help to spread the word by traditional methods.
• Medium to large (20-50 participants)
• Geographically - anywhere there is space to set up the project. Example spaces include community centres, places of worship, car parks and schools. You could even combine a playground with an organised closed play road. Just make sure they are ok with you using chalk to demarcate the playground.
• Bikes of a suitable size (or you could ask participants to bring their own)
• Small cones or barriers
• Chalk or tape for demarcating the play road network
• Small ramps for speed bumps
• Signs can be made with paint and cardboard
• You can also make the playground more fun by adding in fancy dress outfits for police officers or crossing guards (lolly pop people) which the children can wear
• Transport for taking the equipment to each session (if you are providing bikes), such as a large car or van. You may be able to hire one of from a ‘street car’ service, such as zipvan, or partner with a local organisation to source.
• Project Leader:
-Oversee the project ensuring the playground is set up as required and that all equipment is returned.
-Ensure all funding criteria and documentation is met (if required)
-Run risk assessment for safeguarding, injuries and to identify any other concerns which may affect project delivery.
-The Project Lead should have the requisite level of DBS and understand health and safety needs (preferably First Aid trained)
• Volunteers/Project Officers:
-Help answer queries
-Contribute to overseeing activity and potentially fix any equipment issues
• Storage space:
-You will need somewhere to store equipment. This can be at a community centre, or perhaps another local business that has storage room. Your Council may be able to provide you with information on who to contact.
NB: the more participants, the more volunteers/ officers you will need to keep the event safe. It is suggested that you need an adult or volunteer for every four participants if they are under 4, and 1 adult to every 8 children if over that.
Estimated project costs
• Bikes of different sizes £2,000 - £5,000
• 20 small traffic cones £30
• Playground chalks £10
• Paint for signs (use old boxes for cardboard) £10
• Paintbrushes £10
• Storage £500
• Van hire per day (optional) £100
• Parts for repairs (optional) £100
• Fancy dress outfits (each, optional) £25
Top tips/key learnings
• Make sure the area you choose is quite contained - this will make it easier to marshal participants.
• Aim for a venue which is near a route of high footfall to help you recruit passers by into the activity.
• Consider wider engagement activities – social media, poster & flyers in the local shop, café, leisure centre, or train station.
• Make sure parents and carers feel their child is safe (so they don’t feel the need to be by their side all the time) – this will allow children to engage in peer to peer teaching, and parents and carers to engage with each other.
• It’s good to measure whether parents are more or less confident letting their children ride bikes, or whether the children say it has encouraged them to try riding bikes more. This is done by a ‘hands up’ survey where participants are asked to confirm or not, certain statements about their view of cycling.
Maximising local contacts
• Utilise networks to recruit participants, find a space to run the playground, or even get in kind support. (Places of worship, community centres, leisure centres, playgrounds, schools).
• Also think about how you might be able to run a volunteering aspect which can bring other benefits, such as building up confidence and skills which might move people closer to employment.
• You might find that a local shop is willing to provide water and snacks, or that a local café is happy for you to direct participants to them for toilet facilities.
• Engage with your council – they may be able to lend you equipment, help market the project and help secure a space.
If you decide to run your own version of this project in your community, please email us at email@example.com. We love to hear that we are inspiring people to walk and cycle.