A tale of two cities (horrifying!)

Compare and contrast:

In the UK we have “Dad produces instructional video showing how he helps 7-year-old son cycle to school on busy London roads” from road.cc with a video from a Sustrans’ Schools Officer.

In the Netherlands we have The school run in Assen by David Hembrow

What the “Dickens” is going on here.

In the UK we should be filled with shame, embarrassment and guilt over the way we have made travelling to and from school so dangerous for our children.

We are a sick society and we need to get treatment now!

This is not a time for half measures but for real action to make our roads safe for our children.

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  1. The most amazing thing about the Sustrans video on road.cc is that we’ve seen it all before. I wrote a response to a very similar video two years ago. Individuals being brave enough to do this is really not the point at all, and frankly Sustrans would seem to have completely lost the plot by promoting this. Wasn’t the idea supposed to be that kids could ride in safety ?

  2. Interesting that the safest option is to ignore the tiny bit of cycling infrastructure provided on the whole route!

  3. I’m glad you wrote this, it’s being promoted as inspirationally positive, but I don’t see it like that, it feels incredibly sad that the only children who can venture onto our streets by bike have to be accompanied by a expert cycling parent.
    We need dutch standard infrastructure so tha ALL children can cycle without fear.

  4. As someone who lives nearby and regularly cycles along the streets shown in the video, I would say your, your other commenter’s and magnatom*’s* analyses are about right. and not the fulsome praise it is getting on Roadcc. I make two additional points based on my local knowledge.

    1. the roads on the video are actually about as good as it gets in the Borough for this kind of cycling (those pathetic pinch points aside)**. The route is slightly over 1 km in largely 20 mph zones in residential streets. The locals, I have found, tend to respect the limits, and cyclists. This is completely atypical. For most people, even if they are cycling experts like the father, such an unremittingly quiet route is not going to be an option – draw a 1 km circle around the school, and cyclists will encounter truly hostile conditions somewhere along the way in almost any direction other than the journey shown, and no proper infrastructure. Only the lucky few can expect half-way easy trips like this to school.

    2. more trivially, using the footway at the end is actually sensible, not because it is unnecessarily dangerous to use the road (though it is), but because it is the shortest and quickest route – otherwise you’d have to cross the main road twice to get to the school entrance, which is very close to the last T-junction.

    * http://www.magnatom.net/2013/11/inspiring-or-depressing.html

    ** but you think that’s bad? A few streets away we have this http://goo.gl/maps/RXWdt

  5. Well spotted, Dave.

    The child in the video is coming to an age when most children in the Netherlands are starting to ride to school on their own – without an adult following to protect them from motor vehicles approaching from behind.

    Are we meant to be impressed? Sure, the kid is doing something good for themselves, but it’s not something which is transferable to the rest of the population.

    What’s Sustrans’ goal here? I’m baffled by it, to be honest.

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