I welcome this initiative

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I welcome this initiative

Postby paulrbarnard » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:43 pm

In my life time I have seen the freedoms that I enjoyed as a child completely eroded. Growing up I cycled to school both in the UK and in Australia. This was in the 60's and early 70's. I fondly remember sunny summer days cycling off on adventures across the Somerset levels with friends, a jam sandwich and a biscuit or two tucked in a pocket for the 'picnic' later in the day. My own kids are now grown up but they missed out on a lot. When they were of a cycling age the traffic had become just too much and too "entitled to the road" for them to venture out on their own. Not from our fear for them but their own fear for themselves. I sadly remember tears being shed just at the thought of "cycling with the cars" to get to a local off road trail (The Trans Canada Trail in Ottawa). We did manage to ride some off road trails with the kids and they loved it but that was always a "trip out" rather than just going for a ride or riding to the shop/school or whatever. I must say that the opportunities for segregated recreational cycling has improved quite a bit in recent years. Trails like the Bristol to Bath, Two Tunnels, Radstock railway path, Strawberry line etc. are really great and a real asset to the communities around them but they aren't every day use routes. For everyday use you need routes that go everywhere, from homes to shops to schools to places of work.

In North Somerset we are blessed with a great backbone network of longer distance routes but sadly lack the local interconnects that would make cycling viable for all the short trips that currently result in the car being started up and the subsequent congestion. I can leave the gate at the bottom of my garden and cycle into Bath with only a couple of miles of quiet country lanes and the rest being on off road segregated cycle paths. I can even make a few hundred yards road link to join the B2B route and cycle to the centre of Bristol if the fancy takes me. That is great but what my daughters couldn't do was cycle the mile or so from home to school as that was along a very busy A-road commuter route. In our area we do see things improving (apart from Drivers attitudes) with the recent opening of a link from the railway path to the top of Midsomer Norton town and close by the Norton Hill School. It does give me hope but there are many small projects that could give great benefit that are neglected for the "showcase" projects. The biggest frustration I have is seeing the continued practice of painting a line of the road and touting it as "improved cycling infrastructure", when was the last time you saw a line protect a cyclist from impact? Even something as simple as a 20mph limits in towns and villages would help, though ensuring they are only where and when needed is essential or they will just frustrate.

It's too late for my kids to enjoy what I enjoyed growing up but in the event that grandchildren come around I wouldn't like them to suffer the same loss of freedom and life experience that my kids did by being born into the generation pushed into second place by the car. It would be nice to think that my grandchildren will be able to experience the joy of a squashed jam sandwich and broken biscuits at the end of an grand adventure of their own.

How do we get this movement moving?
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Re: I welcome this initiative

Postby Paul Milne » Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:04 pm

Hi Paul, I agree with all you say - I think the way to get the movement going is to disseminate it widely at grass-roots level among as many local people as possible, maybe start by handing out leaflets at the school gates? Local cycling groups and such - that way you will roap in people who might be more experienced in these sorts of campaigns.

Write to the local newspapers with a link to the website and a call to action to local politicians - it might get people thinking! And any local internet forums. Start small to get a big snowball rolling.

Paul Milne
Paul Milne
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Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:59 pm

Re: I welcome this initiative

Postby justacwab » Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:43 pm

I think the campaign is a great idea. Campaigning in the way that has been done until now has got us close to nowhere (in the UK). By focusing on infrastructure for children we immediately can discount horrid things like ASLs, non-mandatory on-road lanes and so on that very obviously parents won't allow their children to use alone. Infrastructure for children is exactly the kind I want to use! It also taps into the kind of nostalgia that Paul is getting at above.

It also gives a good focus: routes to schools. Routes that serve a purpose, not random bits of infrastructure on random roads. They're also routes blighted by the so-called school run, so are crying out for a solution to a very obvious problem.

paulrbarnard wrote:
How do we get this movement moving?

That's the question. I've got a bunch of postcards (to be distributed this week!) for the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain focussing on 'Freedom for Children'. I think there's be a large crossover between supporters of that group and supporters of this movement. I'd be happy to spend any time to help, especially in Scotland, but with the caveat that I don't have much campaigning experience (nor any children :) ).
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Re: I welcome this initiative

Postby thomasrynne » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:00 pm

I think the approach used by http://www.alltrials.net could help to "get things moving".

(All Trials is a campaign to get the results of all medical trials published, not just the positive ones)

Their home page has a petition which people can sign but the focus seems to be on getting _organisations_ to sign.
This page lists the organisations who have supported the petition http://www.alltrials.net/supporters/

If the childhood freedom home page had a petition we could ask organisations which represent children to release a statement supporting the petition.

I'm not sure on the wording but something like this (mostly taken from the homepage):
"Children have a right to freedom and independent travel to school and elsewhere.
This should be enabled by building extensive network of cycle paths and closing many streets to through traffic."

Or maybe no petition is needed and we can just ask them so say they support the campaign.

I think a page of supporters listing organisations like Scouts,
Guides, RCPCH & NAHT would help when the issue gets media coverage.

Can anyone think of other organisations?

Once children's organisations have signed we could target organisations representing other minorities
who would have more freedom if cycling was a viable option for them (elderly, disabled & poor).
Then maybe organisations who would endorse the health benefits for the population generally like the British Heart Foundation*.

I also think the act of lobbying organisations like this would spread the message outside cycling circles.

Cycle protests are well attended so I am sure large numbers would contact these organisations.

I think I'll contact some organisations myself anyway.

*see http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-w ... ens-health)
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