Where can I cycle safely with my children?

Dear Horrid Old Man (who shouted at me for cycling on the path with my children),

Where can I cycle safely with my children? If we cycle on the road, the cars whizz past us so closely our ears ring, the trailer shakes and I fear for my children’s safety.

If we cycle on the path, horrible people like you think it’s ok to shout abuse at us, scaring my children (and if I’m honest, me too).

And if we cycle on the cycle paths… wait, what cycle paths?? (Ok, it’s not that bad, there are a few not-so-great cycle paths in my town. And some amazing people are doing amazing work to get more. But until we have one on EVERY road, it’s just not good enough Mr Johnson)!

Oh look, I’m on the path! Naughty me, keeping my children safe on the school run!

Yes, I know it’s me who chooses to cycle with my children. Who chooses not to make every single journey by car. Who chooses to reduce my carbon footprint, even though cycling with children is not the easy choice. Even though it takes longer, is colder, my children moan and it tires my already pretty bloody shattered body.

And yes, it’s me who wants to teach my children that cycling is a great and sustainable way to travel. To show future generations that our imprint on the planet, however small, does matter. That it’s up to us to make changes now, for their future.

So, please tell me horrid, rude shouty people, who thinks it’s ok to tut loudly as a 4 year old joyfully ‘speeds’ past at an ear-splitting 5 miles per hour. Who forces me to cycle on the muddy grass with a trailer carrying two children, just so you don’t have to step aside. Where can I cycle safely with my children?

Definitely not on Britain’s roads, where 3,707 cyclists were seriously injured and 99 killed in 2018 (FYI these are the most recent stats I could find, but I cant imagine last year was much better). Sorry Horrid Old Man, but with my children onboard, that’s statistics I’m just not prepared to risk.

No. If there is no cycle path and the road is too dangerous, I choose to cycle on the path. I choose my children’s safety. And I choose to ignore your snide comments as I cycle past.

I know it’s inconvenient for pedestrians. I know it is breaking the rules. And I know it can be dangerous too. But with just three people killed last year by cyclists on the path (that’s 60 less than people who died from bee stings), I still choose the path. And I promise, I will always cycle slowly, carefully and stop often to give way to pedestrians.

So, next time you choose to shout at a mother cycling with her children on the path Horrid Old Man, why not choose kindness instead?

Why not choose to support your fellow human who is trying to be environmentally conscious, who is trying to teach their children something good or who is simply trying to get from A to B. Why not encourage more families to get on their bikes, instead of making them feel this is not a safe o or socially acceptable option. And why not choose to take your frustrations out on the powers-that-be who don’t provide enough good cycle paths to keep us safe.

And if you can’t choose kindness, support and encouragement, then, Horrid Old Man, just shut your face!

(Not so much) Love,
Mother, Cyclist and Path-Dweller

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3 thoughts on “Where can I cycle safely with my children?

  1. Firstly:. I am a cyclist.
    This is selfish beyond belief, not to mention illegal. As the piece states, this is not without risk:. People do die from people cycling on pavements. It just happens that it’s not the cyclist, but the pedestrian in such cases. Hence, the author is simply transferring the risk from herself to others.

    That she references a ‘horrid old man’ sheds further light too. If elderly people are complaining, perhaps it is because they feel threatened, or at risk. It us after all, they who are placed at higher risk. And yes, any person is well within their rights to make objection to a person undertaking illegal activity. Regardless of cause, the author is well aware she is breaking laws.

    Her actions also are almost certainly bringing other, responsible, cyclists into disrepute.

    At the end of the day, she does have another option than cycling on the road, cycling on the pavement, or using a car. And it would be the principal purpose of pavements, would not increase carbon emissions and would not unduly upset other, elderly, people. If as the author suggests, she cycles at a snails pace with frequent stops, then it should also take no significantly longer travel time too. At the end of the day, it might even result in befriending some of the people she’s currently distressing, or others.


  2. Here in Sydney, Austrslia children can ride on the footpath until age 16 and adults can legally accompany them.

    I’d rather be shouted at than dead due to an in attentive driver.


  3. One way to make things better is to persuade others to join you. Safety in numbers is quite true for cyclists. Good luck..


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