Having grown up in Denmark, cycling has been an integrated feature of both my childhood and adulthood and a skill that I have been keen to pass on to my own children. However, living in Leamington with its very poor provision for cyclists, it has been a challenge. As most parents with children will probably agree, our busy and dangerous roads are not ideal for young cyclists.
This summer, my family and I were lucky to borrow four bicycles while visiting Copenhagen. For the first time since my daughters were born, we were able to fully take advantage of the city’s continuous network of wide and separated cycle lanes and had an absolutely wonderful time. Within a week, we had cycled over 120 km along main roads, quiet side streets and designated green routes within the city. We were able to cycle next to each other and chat while enjoying our surroundings and everywhere we went, roads had proper signage for cyclists, cyclists had the right of way (after pedestrians) and bicycle parking was readily available. While my 10-year old has always had a bit of an aversion to cycling, by the end of the week she admitted that at least she now no longer ‘hates it’.
Copenhagen has made an image of itself as the capital of cycling. However, visiting our family-cottage in the Danish country side was no different, as many country roads have separated cycle lanes on each side, making cycling easy and safe. As evidenced by the cyclists we met in both Copenhagen and the countryside, cycling is an inclusive mode of transport for people of all ages, gender and social backgrounds, when the infrastructure allows it. It doesn’t have to be an ‘adults-only’ city-phenomenon. My wish would be that Warwickshire Councils would take cycling seriously as a healthy, active, family-friendly mode of transport, and speed up the infra-structure we need to support it, so that more children and adults could get to enjoy cycling as it should be – as an inclusive and enjoyable way to get to school, after school-activities, work, go shopping or just generally be active together.