With mid-January fast approaching, for some the shine is already wearing off of all those sparkly 2015 resolutions….
Not for me, but only because I gave up making those kinds of promises a long time ago! This was in equal parts due to a distinct lack of will power and a contrary nature which means that as soon as I’m forbidden to do something (even by myself) I automatically want to do that thing… a lot.
Something however, that is not so much a resolution but more of an ongoing quest at the moment has gained momentum. And that is to chivvy, inspire, coax, cajole and bully more people into cycling more often.
To make getting around on 2 wheels (even a small) part of their daily routine. To think bike!
I’m happy to report it’s a war of attrition which is starting to achieve results.
For example, my long-suffering (and bike disinterested) sister is taking up the challenge – persuaded along the way by the child bike seat I gave her for Christmas. Dusting down her old childhood bike she is preparing to take her own young daughter out and about, after a few wobbly refresher lessons around the quieter back roads.
They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but your confidence does fall away, especially when you haven’t cycled since childhood. When you’re a kid you don’t think twice about falling off. If you do, you just get up and jump straight back on board.
Being an adult (and in her case a parent) you’re far more aware of your own mortality and of course the potential for accidents.
She’s been inspired though, certainly not just by me but by reading about other mothers who regularly cycle with children. Vicky Myer’s article (How do you get a baby on a bicycle?) earlier in the year was a big contributor to this.
And the appeal is universal. I first met Tina when cycling in Canada, out on her bike, pulling one youngster in a trailer and marshalling two older ones zooming ahead on theirs. Spending the afternoon minus video games, no TV, but plenty of energy expended whizzing through puddles and mud. Tina says
“The kids like biking around to explore and I like getting them outside just to be outdoors. It’s fun even on those short bike rides. The youngest really enjoys it because he’s just learned to bike without training wheels. He was a pretty proud of himself and I was proud too! By the end of the summer he was going over little bumps on the road, smiling ear to ear, saying “woo hoo” and feeling like he was going over dangerous hills. Whilst the older one would be farther ahead, feeling more independent and wanting to bike faster and on his own. These are our adventures“.
And it’s not just for kids…Last year Ange, from Toronto, Canada swapped her much loved but mostly unused old Bianchi road bike for a stylish, retro upright with the idea that she’d be much more likely to ride one she felt more comfortable on. It worked! For her it’s great a combination of cool urban chic and the perfect way to get around the city. She says that:
“Sometimes, when I’m on my bicycle, it’s the most alive I feel that whole week”
For some, one thing always leads to another as my great friend Kim found out. As someone who in their 50’s who rarely cycled, even to the shops, 2 years ago Kim decided to set herself a challenge, riding from London to Paris. Without a bike or any experience of long distance cycling it was always going to be just that, a challenge. As to how she fared, you can find shortly in her forthcoming Guest Blog.
But for now, for 2015 I too am thinking big and taking inspiration from those who are rediscovering their bicycles. In another part of my working life away from the cycle shop and bicycle machinations, I’m plotting to take over the world, or at least a small portion of it, and to do it by bicycle.
As part of a community development role in which I’m involved there’s a funding bid in the pipeline to replicate some of the great city-bike schemes seen in major hubs the world over. It’s aim, if successful will be to provide bicycles on loan to a community whose demography is synonymous with social and economic deprivation. Where health inequality and unemployment are depressingly high, where public transport options are limited and expensive and where poverty and low expectations are endemic.
It’s also however, a place with a strong sense of community at its core and within it, individuals who are working hard to turn around their own lives and of those around them.
Bicycles aren’t going to fix this outright, of course not, but they do contribute so many positive factors including the opportunity for improving transport, exercise, links to employment, learning and well-being. As Ange so wonderfully quoted earlier, the simple act of cycling can make you feel more alive.
So fingers crossed for the bike bid and happy pedalling all, wherever that may be!