This article was published in 2021, in Magazine 153.
Our theme takes me back to this time last year, when my three-year-old was desperate for her first pedal bike. ‘It’s too easy!’, she said, of riding her balance bike. We found her a replacement and hid it in our cycle store ready for Christmas. On the day, she was pedalling herself around our
cul-de-sac within five minutes. By Boxing Day, she was riding along the river adjacent to Stourbridge Common, ringing her bell to alert walkers and using her brakes to slow down when needed. Cycling was made easy.
We could learn a lot from her experience about how to make it easy for everyone to cycle. Firstly, she’s been on bikes since birth and views it as the normal way to travel. Secondly, she’s benefiting from the range of adapted bikes being manufactured – in her case very small and lightweight bikes, including balance bikes. Thirdly, she has safe spaces in which to learn: the 20mph no-through-roads in Chesterton and the beautiful, traffic-free riverside paths. We are also lucky to have a secure place to keep our cycles at home.
If only such conditions applied to everyone wanting to cycle. This year, our local news outlets and social media groups have made it clear that cycling is neither as easy nor as safe as it ought to be. Every day, there are reports of cycle theft and comments from the community implying that it’s impossible to keep cycles secure. Far worse, local headlines have included the deaths of and serious injuries to cyclists of all ages. These are events which we have a responsibility to reflect upon, and which show that we need to take urgent steps to make cycling safer.
But there’s good news to share, too. In this issue, we celebrate the low-traffic streets trialled during the pandemic that will be made permanently safer and more pleasant. We hear from families making the most of a wide range of adapted cycles and the University of Cambridge team working to break down the barriers to cycle commuting. A local cyclist recounts how he retrieved his stolen bike. We also hear from groups in the region who are working together to improve safety and make residential areas more pleasant by campaigning for lower speed limits and restricted access. More positive news comes from a Cambridge school which has transformed its provision for pupils by introducing cycling for all ages and abilities.
As our thoughts move towards the new year, I encourage you all to consider what would make cycling easy for you and your community. Join us and use our members’ forum to share and develop your ideas. There’s a chance we could make more good news together.
Rosie Humphrey, Camcycle editor