There was a certain look about some of the already tired and hassled mothers on the school playground this morning. We wryly smiled and shared our joy and enthusiasm for the cycling proficiency course starting for the year fives: Everyone has a slightly different version of the trauma involved in preparing our children for their training. It seems we were among the most organised as we at least hauled the bike out of the garage last week, although we quickly had to swap it for a rusting companion as the brake cables seemed to have vanished and would definitely not pass the roadworthy test.
I wish this was the bike we gave our daughter to ride but sadly it is not, the image is from the Newport Flower show and taken by Sarah Rainwater.
The man of our house is not known for his practical skills but after enquiring about a bike service at the local bike shop and being quoted fifty five pounds, he quickly upped his skill in the area of brake cable doing something too and all the other necessary checks. Feeling rightly proud of himself he announced the bike safe to use, the next step was to find a safety helmet deemed suitable to wear. Obviously Barbie and Fireman Sam are not acceptable to an almost ten year old and the only helmet we could find belonged to younger brother, here entered intense negotiating skills and bargaining to allow the loan of this suddenly precious belonging. Compared to hunting through the mounds of rubbish in the garage to find another helmet, it was easier to negotiate but only just!
The journey to school was fraught with danger, small son as usual scooted at high speed while I was laden with buggy, toddler, bags and cornet. Cycling trainee wanted to ride and obviously misunderstood when I told her not to cycle on the pavement - I looked up and saw her cycling on the wrong side of the (not quiet) road! When we finally arrived at school I was so pleased to know I was not alone in my morning stress. We all wore a similar "Bike Face", hiding the underlying screams at our offspring.
As I listened to the news it was perfect timing to hear that MPs are to debate measures to protect cyclists, after the number killed on the roads last year rose by 7%. I would love to cycle more and have an idyllic image of me riding around with my babe on the seat behind but the roads are very scary to ride especially with a tot in tow. It is also incredibly hilly where we live and the last time I cycled to work I arrived with my face as red as my hair, not an attractive look!
However in an age of environmental awareness and increasing fuel prices to say nothing of rising obesity, to be able to safely travel by bike must surely be welcomed by all, young and old.
What suggestions would you give to improve safety for cyclists?