Chris Boardman, policy adviser at British Cycling and Olympic cycling champion, says he won’t let his daughter "ride the 300m it takes to get to our local cycling path”.
In the opinion piece, he said: “Bikes have always been a part of my life and, like all parents, I’d love them to be part of my children’s lives too, but I have a problem.
“Despite my love of the bicycle and that I know cycling is statistically safe, I won’t let my eight-year-old daughter ride on the road. And that is tragic.
“That’s because even though I know that she is statistically more likely to have an accident in our bathroom at home rather than on the road, cycling just doesn’t feel safe. It’s a purely emotional response rather than a logical one – and that’s what most parents base their decisions on.
“And it’s not just me. Parents across the country think the same, which is why just 1% of kids ride to school.
“Earlier this year, Lord Coe said that today’s children could be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to a lack of physical activity. This is not only bad for individuals, it is bad for the economy, costing the country £20bn a year.
“If my family lived just a few hundred miles away, in the Netherlands, things would be very different for my daughter. They have chosen to design physical activity into their daily lives. Half of all kids ride to school and nearly 30% of all journeys are made by bike. Their infrastructure has been designed to prioritise cycling and walking. Every busy road has a wide cycle lane. At junctions there is a separate phase so kids do not have to mix with traffic. And when they reach their school, there are enough bike racks to go round.
"It’s not rocket science. Like any mode of transport, if you invest in it and make it an attractive alternative, people will use it. We did this with motorways in the 1960s, with airports in the 1970s, and rail in the 1990s – we can do the same with bikes.”
Click here to read the full article on the BBC News website.
FOOTNOTE: BBC News has published a seperate article (4 Nov) titled ‘How safe is cycling?’, which looks at the risks of riding a bike and how they compare with driving a car. Click here to read the article.
BBC News has also published today (5 Nov) a further article titled ‘Would these five things actually help cyclists?’. Click here to read the article.