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My local councillor tells parents cycling isn't suitable for them. Is that fair?

(27 Posts)
Dannyinthecity Mon 04-Jul-11 12:07:22


My name is Danny. This is my first post on mumsnet so please go gently on me. I contacted mumsnet directly after talking to my sister about something that happened to me last week and they suggested I post about this. My sister has two children, 2 and 5. She takes them to the same school. She sometimes cycles them. And she says that many of the other parents at her school would like to cycle their children to school. But they don't because they're too scared of the roads. Last week a colleauge of mine was cycling her children to school and someone stopped their car, got out and called her 'a child abuser' (I'm not kidding)

I write a blog about cycling and walking in London. And last week I received some correspondence from the transport spokesman for the Conservatives in the London Assembly (the London governing assembly). He wrote this to me:

"Whilst we strongly support those who have the choice choosing to cycle, there are those for whom cycling is not feasible. The introduction of a road user hierarchy penalises those, such as parents with young children, whose personal circumstances might be less suited to cycling."

There's a big debate going on in London at the moment about whether roads should be prioritised to process as many cars as quickly as possible or whether they should be designed to allow people to walk and cycle through them safely as a priority. His mention of a 'road user hierarchy' is a reference to a decision by the Conservatives in London to specifically not reject a report agreed by the rest of the London Asssembly that would have made road safety for pedestrians and people on cycles a priority on London's roads rather than fast motor traffic.

What surprised me was his comment that cycling is not feasible for parents with young children.

In Denmark, most children cycle to school on their own when they're old enough and with their parents when they're younger (55% get to school by cycle). I think many people would like to cycle their children to school if they felt the roads were safe enough. It would save people a lot of time and money if they could do so.

My blog isn't a political blog. I'm not trying to be anti or pro any political party. I also know that cycling can be a contentious topic for some people. But I am really curious. Do most parents agree with his statement that it's not suitable for parents with young children to cycle? I can see why people would choose not to cycle on our busy roads. But I don't agree that people shouldn't be able to cycle with their children, provided they felt safe enough.

I've written more about this here

I'm looking forward to hearing what people think and whether they would like to feel the roads were safe enough for them to cycle with their children, like it is in many other countries now.


icannotfly Wed 20-Jul-11 22:33:28

Urghhh.... I do cycle with my DS nearly every day. I'm choosing quieter/safer roads while cycle with him. I do stop on red lights/give a way a lot, wear helmet and try to not get to angry when some drivers/pedestrians/pushy cyclist are doing their "I HAVE TO BE FIRST" dance. In general it gave me the feeling of freedom and control. My son loves it!
It makes me feel angry when some tory b***h thinks that people shouldn't show their kids the healthy life style - would it be better if we all drive huge cars? Does the road belong only to car drivers? How about the pavement, public transport? Those places are full of weaker, slower movers! Maybe parents, kids, disable, sick and old people should stay home? The world is to dangerous and they might be in somebody's way?!
Yes, Danny - I think we should create safe spaces for people to cycle and that are safe enough for them and there children to use!
Best regards!

mikeLCC Sat 06-Aug-11 01:28:14

Hello mumsnet,

Like Danny, this is my first post.

I work for the London Cycling Campaign, where I found a link to this discussion... we're discussing you discussing cycling smile

Earlier today I was reading an article by an English chap called David Hembrow who lives in the Netherlands. He was describing Dutch schools and children cycling, and I thought it was worth posting:

When we arrived in the Netherlands we knew that Dutch children cycled to school. However, we didn’t know that on average they do so unaccompanied from the age of eight and a half. We didn’t know that most school trips are made by bike, nor that it’s normal for primary school children to go cycle camping. We didn’t know that some secondary school pupils ride a 25-mile round trip every day to get to school, nor that after school discos (which sometimes go on until after midnight) children routinely cycle home across cities on their own. We were also pleased to discover that rural cycle paths used by schoolchildren receive priority snow clearing in winter.

When I read this I feel a mix of delight and envy... but with a touch of slight incredulity, that roads could actually be that safe.

What do you think?

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