1. Cycling is Good. Fact.
2. Cycle Training Enables People to Cycle Safely. Fact.
Therefore, by the rules of Logic, investing money in Cycle Training is a Very Good Thing. Fact.
Or is it?
"More than 300,000 school children will learn to cycle safely, competently and confidently on the road over the next year, thanks to nearly £11m worth of government funding allocated today, Norman Baker has announced."
What on earth could be wrong with that? Well, the problem is that cycle training does not result in more cycling. We know this because there is no shortage of cycle training, but nationally cycling is flat-lining. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with cycling, or with cycle training. It is simply that cycle training does not create safety, it simply enables people to adapt to a dangerous environment. It's a bit like giving people a bullet-proof vest. Will they go on holiday to Afghanistan? Possibly, if they really love the country, or have a high tolerance of danger, but for most people simply being in a hostile environment is stressful, no matter how well prepared or protected you may be. Afghanistan, of course, is an extreme example, but even countries like Egypt and Morocco, which are in fact very safe for tourists, experience a downturn in holiday bookings as a result of one isolated incident. That's because people, like all animals, are easily scared, arising from their built-in instinct for survival. Perception of danger leads to stress, which leads to flight (or possibly fight).
Of the 300,000 school children trained next year, only about 2% will actually cycle to school. So with such an abysmal conversion rate, the cost of training works out at £2000 per child actually cycling. If they spent some money on infrastructure, a lot more kids would cycle, and adults for that matter. Not just this year, but for decades into the future. Then it would actually be worth training them.
The fact is that cycle training is an easy way of spending money on cycling, but it is not currently an effective way of spending money on cycling. In fact, it's downright wasteful. If you were investing £11M in education, and only 2% of your pupils succeeded, or £11M in job creation, and 98% of it was wasted, there would be an outcry. But cycling is something politicians need to be seen to be spending money on because it's A Good Thing. It doesn't seem to matter if it's as effective as backing a 3-legged donkey to win the Grand National.