One thing that really upsets me about cycling in the UK is how difficult it is to cycle with young children. The ideal situation would be for children to cycle to school and the shops alongside their parents, however unlike in Holland where this is common place, in this country the roads are far too dangerous for the very young cyclist. The cycle paths are not properly separated and don’t join up with each other making them useless for everyday transport. The only family cycling we see in the UK is leisure cycling and here is the rub, to do it, you need a car to get to the safe cycle paths! To get to safe infrastructure a family will usually have to negotiate main roads and this is not safe when cycling with small children.
Yesterday we decided to attempt a family cycle ride at the local park and ride. The large car park is closed on a Sunday so makes an ideal spot for a little cycle practice. It also has some dirt tracks behind it which are just about passable in good weather. The tricky bit was how to get there with no car. Fortunately the road that leads to the Park and Ride has pavement or separated cycle path so my boy can ride there, however the road is too fast and the pavement too narrow for my little girl, who is only just learning to cycle. So to make the journey the little nipper sat on a cushion on the back of my bicycle and her bicycle was pulled along behind in a trailer.
Once at the park and ride we had a great time riding around, imagining we were in a world without cars.
It was wonderful to cycle as a family again, something we haven’t done since our holiday last year in Assen. We only had to ride a couple of pavements to get to the park and ride and will be making this a regular trip. The really annoying thing is we still can’t cycle together on our everyday trips to the shops. Until the children are older or we get proper Dutch style infrastructure our family cycling will have to be occasional and not everyday.