Ealing and Hounslow parents get on their bikes with their children
The Ealing branch of the London Cycling Campaign has used a grant under the 2009 CCFfL scheme from TfL to encourage parents to cycle with their young children.
Over 20 candidates have signed up so far across the two boroughs and demand is growing as word of mouth spreads.
David Eales, the project manager, describes the project:
'We did some research at the start of 2009, and identified several reasons why people don't cycle with their young children. Even existing and confident cyclists frequently stopped cycling with the arrival of a child.'
The main reasons were equipment, confidence, and general advice on cycling within the borough.
Cycle training, specialised kit, and useful advice
The equipment issue was easily resolved with the purchase of a variety of different types of kit: child seats, trailers, and tag-alongs. Project participants can now borrow these items for a set period. Project workers fit the equipment and offer advice on how to use it.
Confidence, it turned out, was easy to restore amongst the parent cyclists. Professional on road training was provided initally by a third party, but since the project started, two project workers have trained as instructors and are now taking over the training element.
Finally, cycling and cycle route advice within the borough has been provided by local project workers and the Ealing Cycling Campaign who have a wealth of knowledge around cycling with children, commuting, transport, and even shopping.
Going that little bit further
As well as providing the above services, each participant has been assigned a project worker for support, day to day issues, basic mechanical problems, and general support. Participants have been given a diary to record their thoughts on the project - from inital reactions, to worries and goals, to miles travelled, and to personal achievements.
The Ealing Cycling Campaign has been organising a great number of rides touring the area, keeping on quiet roads and tow paths, and ending with picnics, specifically aimed at families. The rides had some unexpected outcomes. They turned out to be a great way to recruit new participants, and they became a networking and social event for the families.
The project has been a departure from past initiatives which have traditionally targeted existing cyclists and concentrated on hard outcomes rather than providing training and advice to cyclists.
Now that the project is up and running, it has become sustainable year on year thanks to the in-house instructors and good quality equipment.
Thoughts from participants
[I] always come back really enthusiastic from those courses. I’m using the bike a lot more to do local errands such as go to the shops, allotment etc. I’ve also taken Ella out for rides around the local parks, which she loves. Bruce
We’ve been getting great use out of the trailer. We take the twins out in it most weekends and I even carry our older son on a seat on the back of the bike as well. It's a very useful thing and we've built it into our lifestyle to use it whenever possible. We're very grateful to be able to use it. Daniel.
I have to say - I have cycled everyday with my son on and off the road, where permitted, Jeremiah absolutely loves it - so much so, he's goes to sleep talking about the bike and can't wait to get washed in the morning to get back on it - which makes my morning much easier... I think it's a wonderful initiative and happy to lend my support to the campaign wherever I can. Fiona
We've had a couple of good rides including a fabulous trip to Hampton Court and back on bank holiday Monday [with the trailer]. Jatinder