Thursday, 30 July 2009

Kids, bikes and the law

I went cycling with two of my three kids yesterday. My youngest is six and simply loves her bike, while my eldest at eleven is starting to be a bit of a "cool dude".
We went over the swing bridge on the Barbican (Plymouth Barbican, that is!) up past the entrance to the Royal Citadel, onto the Hoe promenade, before swinging into town, then back home again.

Throughout this journey I had especially my youngest cycle on the pavement. Yes, I know all the arguments and yes, I know what the law says. But there is simply no way I will let her cycle on most roads - it is far too dangerous!

I'm not an overprotective parent. My eldest two have often cycled to school on their own (my middle one is nine, and was supervised after a fashion by her brother). My eldest two kids go to the park on their own, and run errands to the shops for my wife and I at times.

Somebody far wiser than me once said the law is an ass. Regarding this issue I wholeheartedly agree and there is simply no way I will tell my youngest not to cycle on pavements as there typically is no other safe cycling option available.

Plymouth City Council seems not too forward thinking in their support for cycling and this impression is reinforced by the on-road cycle lanes that abandon you without warning, as well as poorly laid-out cycle lanes.

I'm not saying the entire council is rubbish, because there are many things they do well. Also, it seems that there IS a will to provide cycling facilities, which is more than what can be said for some local authorities.
Still, their approach to cycling provision creates the impression that it was thought up by somebody that doesn't cycle. As a result, they are putting in place - sometimes at great cost - facilities that fail to deliver.

If only they'd start consulting with cyclists and perhaps even started cycling themselves, they would soon realise where they go wrong.

And who knows, this may even lead to a city where even 6 year olds can cycle safely without breaking the law.