YOUNGSTERS have been getting into top gear with a stabiliser-free bike session.
The free training session was offered at the Hub, Herrington Country Park, yesterday.
The training was on offer thanks to a partnership between Sunderland City Council, Go Smarter, and cycling charity Sustrans.
There have been dozens of sessions since the programme began three years ago.
The sessions enhance the Bikeability scheme organised by the city council’s Road Safety Team.
The council has been running safe road cycling schemes since 1984 and every year more than 2,000 Sunderland children receive a safe-cycling session.
Friday’s session, with more than 15 youngsters, came just before this year’s Family Safety Week, which runs from Monday, March 2, to Friday, March 6, which is promoting safer cycling.
Coun Michael Mordey, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for city services, was at the training session.
He said: “Nearly everyone is a highway user, whether it is a driver, pedestrian or cyclist.
“All of us are affected by the behaviour of others when sharing the highways network.
“Road safety reminders and lessons are very important for everyone, and all road users need to think about safety all the time.
“Training that’s delivered to children when they are young hopefully instils a safety message that will stay with them throughout their lives.”
As well as promoting cycling and road safety, the sessions fit with the Tyne and Wear sustainable travel programme, that encourages adults and children to cycle, walk, use public transport and car share on their journeys to school and work.
Children practised with balance bikes, or their own bikes with stabilisers and pedals removed, and then riding with pedals fitted once they felt comfortable.
Sustrans staff worked with children in groups or on a one-to-one basis to increase confidence, improve balance and get fledgling cyclists pedalling unassisted.
Sustrans schools officer, Mark O’Keeffe, said: “It’s amazing just how much children can improve in one session with lots of encouragement from their parents and some tried and trusted techniques from us.
“We typically see about two thirds of those taking part making the transition to two wheels, allowing them to enjoy cycling activities with the rest of their family.”