Pupils cycling to school in Watford must now apply for a “bike passport” under a new scheme to improve road safety.

The project, launched at the Francis Combe Academy on Friday, is the first of its kind in Hertfordshire.

And if it proves successful, it could be rolled out across the county in 2010.

The bike passport scheme, backed by parents at the school in Horseshoe Lane, was launched by Hertfordshire County Council's Road Safety unit, Hertfordshire Police and the extended schools consortium to coincide with Road Safety Week, which took place from Monday, November 23, to Friday, November 27.

To obtain a bike passport and, therefore, receive permission to ride to school, pupils must agree to three conditions.

They must attend a bike safety talk, have their bike checked for safety by a trained police officer and they must wear a safety helmet while cycling to and from school.

Any pupil who fails to meet these conditions will not get a bike passport and will not be allowed to cycle to school.

Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Vanessa Howden-Smith, from the North Watford Safer Neighbourhood Team which helped set up the initiative, said: “We are delighted to have the support of the Francis Combe Academy to help carry out this initiative and hope that other schools will join in with the bike passport project.

“We are optimistic that this will influence the pupils' attitude on the importance of staying safe when cycling to school and will be of benefit to them.”