Common Concerns

At yesterday’s startup meeting of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain there was a common thread to many (not all) of the people wanting high quality separated cycling infrastructure.

They were parents, keen cyclists themselves but now with children feeling that it was no longer possible to imagine their children starting to ride on the road as they did when they were young.

I am empathise with this. Being an older parent we have 3 sons (for the moment we are in a one year period when they are all teenagers) who all enjoy riding bikes on holiday and yet who rarely ride at home and almost never alone.

I confess I do little to encourage them to ride around, we are fortunate here that they can get into Leicester easily by train and to school/college by walking or train plus walking. Syston is compact enough to walk around which helps a lot.

Most weeks beyond transporting a wheelchair bound mother-in-law our car is used only for transporting sons.

The kids you see riding bikes sadly almost never have working lights and are almost always bouncing on and off the pavement. I watch them with my heart in my mouth wondering if they will survive very long. Not long ago one jumped off the pavement right in front of my cargobike, he hadn’t looked at all. In a car doing 30mph I would have struggled to miss him.

We are told that by far the greatest external cause of death for children is motor transport (nearly half of all dead children are killed as passengers, as pedestrians or as cyclists). The children in wealthier families are locked up in homes to keep them safe and the children in poorer families die on the roads.

In the 1970’s the Netherlands responded to the number of children dying on the roads in what was seen as a national crisis. I wonder if the UK is at last ready to challenge the greatest threat to our children – the car.



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