If you are a keen cyclist on the London streets and on social media, you already have seen a quiet revolution take hold. When I moved to East Dulwich fifteen years ago as a young mother, I was the odd one out. I rode a tangerine coloured triple tandem (as well as the yellow bike above!) for the school run, rain or shine. At that time, there were few cyclists on the road in leafy Dulwich. I remember being interviewed on the radio about cycling with my children to school about five years later alongside the SUV mums who looked askance at me, as if I were a creature from another planet, and possibly reportable for endangering the lives of my children.
Fast forward to now, I've seen more and more women of all ages out and about on bicycles - particularly women over forty. This picture is blossoming but it still needs some tendrils. The children are still not cycling solo - at least around my neck of the woods. For that to change, protected cycle lanes are one thing that will set the children free and de-clutter the roads. This point is where it gets dicey and turns into the bikes v cars rage so in vogue on social media. That is a conversation that needs to change to something less combative and more positive to get things rolling.
But I digress. My main point is that I do see real change. Slowly, but steadily. And, as SpecialBikesUK is a company that caters to people with disabilities, the challenges faced by mothers with children on non-traditional bikes are some of the same challenges faced by disabled cyclists. And, children cycling solo need the infrastructure that will give parents the confidence to let them go off by themselves.
What else will help? More on-street bicycle storage/parking. Vital for families and people with disabilities that ride non-traditional cycles like recumbents and trikes. My living room is currently filled with all sorts of oddly-shaped bicycles and that leaves our family socialising to the kitchen.
But let's celebrate a bit. The conversation around cycling and infrastructure has grown from a mumble to a stadium-filling cheer. Change is happening. Change happens slowly. Bureaucracy reconfigures. People start to think they can cycle. And, that is key.
Perception of cycling is changing as the numbers of people who are "giving it a go" increase. We should be celebrating this shift rather than descending into talking about bikes v cars, mamils vs hipsters or other negative dichotomies. Cycling for all is wheelie good!