Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #54. Great for kids.

#54: GREAT FOR KIDS. London’s most vocal cycle campaigners – the ones who wear lycra, hate all car drivers, run red lights and swear at pedestrians – are so angry and selfish that they are only interested in cycle development on the busy main roads they prefer to cycle on.

But surely even the most hardened cyclists can acknowledge that London’s children would benefit from a properly signed and mapped network of safer, quieter backstreets.

With a London Cycle Map, children would be able to follow coloured-coded cycle routes while surrounded by lots of other cyclists, in a cycling bubble.

When I was about eleven my mum used to let me and my friends catch the bus to Walthamstow. It was a three-mile journey but she knew we’d be safe because buses don’t get lost or run over. She would never have let us ride there.

But what if we had been able to jump on our bikes and follow a trail of breadcrumbs – regularly-spaced road markings – which would lead us safely through the backstreets, before we parked up and walked the rest of the way to MacDonald’s? My mum would have said: “never mind those three flagship Go Dutch schemes in West London: if you stick to the London Cycle Network, you can go wherever you like”. Parents worry about the whereabouts and safety of their kids – problem solved.

And kids benefit most when they are given the opportunity to explore within well-defined boundaries. This is exactly what the London Cycle Map would bring. Even if we created a London Cycle Map only for children it would be a wonderful thing. In fact, the more I think about it, the network should be organised specifically with children in mind, because if we could make cycling in London accessible to kids, it would be accessible to everyone.

A London Cycle Map would enable kids to ride away from their computer screens and out of that cotton wool they’re wrapped in these days. And with all that extra exercise, they might even be able to eat a MacDonald’s occasionally without getting obese.


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