Young cyclists take to their bikes to demand safer streets
Almost 500 young cyclists in Edinburgh and Inverness took to the streets this weekend to demand action is taken to make the streets safer for cycling.
The events, run by campaign group Kidical Mass, were just two of the hundreds that took place around Europe to raise awareness of the need to make space for the next generation with measures like cycle lanes that are separated from roads.
There are currently 12 Kidical Mass groups in the UK, with Inverness and Edinburgh leading the way in Scotland. The groups organise regular cycle rides, to give young people visibility and help them make their voice heard.
Ewen Maclean was one of the organisers of the Edinburgh Kidical Mass ride. He said:
“The Kidical Mass movement is about demonstrating the need and demand to allow kids the freedom and safety to move around our cities in a healthy and sustainable way. Very shortly these kids will be independent young adults and the benefits of encouraging active travel are clear and societal. Not only is incorporating active travel into your lives good for your mental and physical well-being, helping to address the inactivity crisis, and the climate crisis, but it reduces traffic volume, pollution and accidents and damage to our roads – which benefits those who need to drive as well as those that don’t.
“The children on the ride were able to chat and laugh and be outside interacting with their community, feeling safe enough to get around. These kids were the lucky ones: many, many more would have loved to have joined from Leith, Portobello and other areas further afield but there is no safe route for them to access the ride. This is why we need to fight for safe routes across the city for all residents, but this ride was about giving a voice to kids, who can’t vote or participate in consultations – we need to listen to what is important for them for the future.”
Elspeth, aged 6, joined in the ride in Edinburgh. She said: “I loved riding with my friends and waving at people – it was really fun and I felt safe. I loved the music too.”
Bridie Barnett, hospital doctor and mum of 2 from Inverness, said: “It was amazing to see so many kids out on their bikes this weekend – we really see a difference in their confidence when we do these cycles because they aren’t worried about the cars coming close to them – it gives us a real insight into how good things could be if we had proper segregated cycle lanes.”
Kidical mass is a worldwide movement where a large group of people aged 0-99+ take to the streets to cycle, wheel and scoot safely. The motto is “space for the next generation” and the purpose of this event is to get kids and adults excited about cycling and to improve confidence on the roads by riding in a safe, friendly and welcoming group of cyclists.
We want to give kids a physical presence and a voice in the public realm. Kids are traffic too. We hope it will connect and encourage us all to consider making short journeys by bike, scooter or other active travel choice, rather than taking the car. A city that is safe and sustainable for kids is good for people of all ages.