Campaigners are calling for safer streets for cycling after many kids have received bikes as Christmas presents but don’t feel safe to get out on the roads.
Parents and children from Kidical Mass groups covering the length of the country, from Inverness to Bath, are looking for their councils to take action to enable more people to cycle by providing safe spaces to cycle, by installing segregated cycle lanes and closing roads to through traffic, to school streets and funded bikeability in schools. Children should be able to cycle to their schools, to their GPs, parks and leisure centres, cafes and shops should be accessible by walking, wheeling and cycling.
Kidical Mass groups comprise parents and children who take part in regular bike rides to raise awareness of the barriers that people, in particular children, face to cycling. But it’s not just parents and children who take part, these rides benefit everyone from wheelchair users, to people with visual impairments and all members of the community.
Kat Heath, one of the founding members of Kidical Mass Inverness, said: “We started Kidical Masses after the council voted to remove spaces people were using as cycle paths and made it more dangerous to cycle in the city. We want segregated, connected, direct cycle paths and for walking, wheeling and cycling to become the default options for short journeys.
“The rides are a really fun way to show demand for active travel while having a great time and increasing your cycling skills. Our next ride is on New Year’s Day, starting at half one at Bellfield Park so I’d encourage as many people as possible to join us and get involved!”
Beth, 12, from Inverness is an avid participant of the cycles. She said: “Bikes are good for the community because you are able to talk to more people when you are on a bike.”
Kidical Mass rides take place all over the country. Delia from Bath has been taking part since May 2021. She said: “As a family we love cycling, and we try to cycle outside Bath as much as we can. Around town however, we prefer to walk as we don’t feel it is easy and safe enough to reach most places by bike with the kids. I joined Kidical Mass Bath the first time because I thought it was the perfect way, together with other people, to make our views known. I didn’t know where this would go but I’m pleased it didn’t stop! I haven’t missed a ride since and there’s a fantastic community aspect to it too!”
Gabe, 13, from Bath said: “I take part in Kidical Mass because I want cleaner air and a safer way to get around for me and my friends.”
And it’s not just Kidical Masses in some cities and towns parents have started organising bike buses to get their children to school safely.
Travelling by walking, wheeling and cycling reduces pollution and carbon emissions, and brings benefits for our physical and mental health. During the Covid-19 restrictions, there was a significant spike in cycling because the roads were quieter. This could be continued if councils invest in infrastructure, like segregated protected cycle lanes and widened pavements.
Find your local Kidical Mass group on Facebook to find out more and join in the next ride.