UP to 1,000 cyclists are to receive cycle licences this week.The new scheme, to be launched in Co Mayo, is designed to increase awareness of road safety for cyclists and its this is all part of European Mobility Week,which takes place from 16 - 22 September.
The theme for 2010 is 'Travel Smarter, Live Better'.
Only vehicles with combustion engines require the operator to have a licence, under current law.But Noel Gibbons, road safety officer with Mayo County Council, said that the scheme would bring young cyclists into line with drivers of larger, powerful road vehicles and was hoping it make the cyclist think more about cycle safety, similar schemes operate throughout Europe.
"The purpose of the cycle licence is to raise awareness of cycle safety and encourage more people to take the two-wheel mode of transport, rather than four wheels," he said.
"We also want to get the young cyclist to remember that they have a responsibility for their own safety when using a bicycle, for these young cyclists to earn these licences they must under go a cycle theory test and take an pledge to always wear a cycle helmet when they are cycling.
Thérèse Ruane, chairperson of Iompar Castlebar, a newly established group promoting sustainable travel, said: "The cycle licence scheme is a great initiative. The benefits of cycling are obvious and this is a great way to promote it among all ages. Using your bike makes you healthier, saves you time and money ... and you're doing your bit for the environment."
Mr Michael Lyons Sustainable Travel Officer with Mayo County Council said "The scheme is a wonderful and innovative way of engaging with young people.Sustainable Travel is the way of the future. The scheme shows foresight and encourages Mayo people to get back cycling and reconnect with their environment and community. Everyone will benefit and can contribute to reducing the congestion and pollution levels in our towns. I would encourage young and old to avail of this opportunity,"