‘Councils are haemorrhaging cycle training,’ instructors warn as they strike over pay

Cycling instructors got off their bikes last week to call for better pay and highlight staff shortages.

Members of the IWGB union staged a one-day strike and protested outside a number of Town Halls, including Hackney’s.

They had a pay freeze for 14 years and a below-inflationary increase this year.

The strike affected one-on-one training sessions, classes in schools, and adult and family workshops.

The instructors were joined outside Hackney Town Hall by Green councillor Alastair Binnie-Lubbock, who is backing their campaign.

Councils hire the instructors through training company Cycle Confident.

Ben House, vice-chair of the cycling instructors’ branch of IWGB, said the number of instructors in London has dropped over the last four years from around 300 to 150.

This is despite the government aiming for every child to learn how to cycle, and councils in London committing to encouraging cycling as part of a move to greener, active travel.

House said: “They are haemorrhaging cycle training. We work with a lot of adults on a one-to-one basis who said they feel unsafe going on the road. We can help them save a lot in the cost-of-living crisis – they can save over £1,000 a year in transport costs.”

Will Norman, London’s cycling commissioner, told councils he was increasing their cycling funding by 66 per cent and the cycling instructors said this was earmarked to boost pay.

In a letter to Hackney Council, IWGB branch chair Suami Rocha said “there is currently no clear framework for cycling instructor pay and conditions. For most instructors, pay has not increased since 2009 and admin time is usually unpaid.”

He called for councils, training companies and Transport for London to get together and draw up a framework for pay and conditions.

“This would provide clarity for everyone in the industry in London and set cycle training on a sustainable course.”

He added: “We’re committed to finding a resolution for instructors and mechanics that’ll safeguard the future of the industry and begin restoring years of real terms pay cuts and worsening working conditions.”

The instructors have met with Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville and transport boss Cllr Mete Coban to highlight their concerns.

A council spokesman said it was looking at procuring a new contract when the current one ends next year.

“We have ensured that comments and issues raised by instructors and mechanics, both within and outside of the IWGB Union, are considered as part of the development of our new tender.”

The council said training is important to get more Hackney residents cycling “and doing so more safely”.

The spokesman added: “Cycle instructors are a crucial part of these efforts and our programme would not be possible without them.”

The council wants every local pupil to have the chance to learn to ride a bike safely by the time they leave primary school.

The spokesman added: “Hackney’s contract to deliver cycle training is with Cycle Confident, using a framework contract that was initially developed by Haringey and Enfield Councils, and comes to an end in March 2024.

“We understand that an agreed increase in the course rates paid to Cycle Confident was reflected in a recent increase in rates that Cycle Confident pays to their instructors, who are mostly self-employed.

“Hackney does not set the rate that instructors are paid.”

Cycle Confident has been approached for comment.