Introducing cycling at an early age
Start is a cycling engagement programme for toddlers and their parents, which aims to instigate a cycling culture at the earliest age possible, focusing on communities with a distance to cycling, be it due to access, skills, or background.
Programme Theory of Change
There is clear evidence that starting cycling at an early age has a positive relationship to childhood development from 0-3 years old. Learning to cycle at a young age is important for physical health and development (motor skills, strength, endurance) as well as mental (concentration, self-confidence, independence strengthens the ability to learn other skills like maths and language).
In order for children to continue their skill development and use of the bicycle, it is key that their parent(s)/caregiver(s) also know(s) how to cycle in their position as role models and facilitators of mobility choices. This ensures that cycling becomes part of the family culture, both for transportation but also for fun and exercise.
How does the programme work?
In partnership with child-care centres and bike-lease companies, children gain access to a lease-bicycle and collectively learn to cycle independently through play.
As part of the programme, parents can receive a lease-bicycle, have their bike repaired, learn new skills, and participate in group rides to go grocery shopping or cycle with the children on their bicycles.
A basic version of Start offers weekly sessions over the course of 2-3 months. The programme can then be scaled to bi-weekly or monthly sessions offered on an ongoing basis.
“Behavioural programmes that involve neighbourhood-level stakeholders and organisations can quickly broaden understanding and awareness of care and active mobility locally.”
Mobilities of Care, Insights Report, 'Supporting cycling uptake of care journeys'', BYCS & Bernard van Leer Foundation
The programme was started in the Netherlands in 2022, and is now expanding across the country and internationally. 15 pilots have already taken place with support from our partners in:
These have already had the impact of getting 433 children to learn to cycle, from 188 families, achieving a 67% increase in cycling journeys.
Interested in holding a Start programme in your city? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.