CHILDREN in Hartlepool will be learning to ride their bikes at an earlier age thanks to a new scheme.

Eight specialised bikes have been purchased by the town’s council with funding from the British Heart Foundation.

The ‘balance bikes’ are designed for children aged two to five. They are without pedals and children sit on them with their feet on the ground, allowing them to focus on balancing.

Hartlepool council is hoping the scheme will encourage more children to learn to cycle.

Outdoor Activities Co-ordinator Adam Reah said: “Gone are the days when it could be taken for granted that kids could ride a bike and we are genuinely finding that increasing numbers of children can’t. This is not just at a young age either - sometimes we find this to be the case with children in year six.

“There may be a number of reasons for this. Some parents simply may not be able to afford bikes for their children, others may be concerned about safety and some families simply struggle to find the time to do things like riding bikes together.

“Initially, this shocked me but now it saddens me. As a result, we have decided to try to do something about it and we are really grateful to the British Heart Foundation for their support.”

The bikes are currently being taken around primary schools and children’s centres in Hartlepool, where children are being encouraged to try them out.