Mums' Corner: Cycling with children, part 1 - Total Women's Cycling

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Mums' Corner

Mums’ Corner: Cycling with children, part 1

Cycling with children can be daunting, we’re here to help you on your way. Image by Comrade Foot.

We don’t have to tell you that having a baby changes your life. Mums’ Corner is here to talk about the joys and pitfalls of incorporating little ones into your cycling.

A dedicated area for all Mums, we will feature all aspects of cycling with your kids. From Mums sharing experiences of cycling with their children, to debates on which is better for transporting them; the chair or the trailer.

To get things started, Cathy Bussey, author of the recently published The Girl’s Guide to Life on Two Wheels, has kindly shared her thoughts and feelings on taking her firstborn, Cherry, out on the road.

In part one, Cathy contemplates cycling with Cherry.

Before I had Cherry it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t cycle with her once she was born.

I’d seen mothers and fathers pedalling with little ones in seats or trailers and just assumed that was what we would do.

Then out she came, precious little soul, and things became a bit more complicated. Putting this tiny, vulnerable, fragile little being onto a bicycle suddenly seemed like the very definition of insanity.

But now a year has passed and after much pondering, I have decided the time has come to introduce Cherry to the wonderful world of the bicycle.

Cathy’s precious cargo, Cherry, ready and raring to go cycling. Image by Cathy Bussey.

At 13 months, she is robust enough in my opinion to be able to cope with the odd slightly bumpy ride.

The main issue is, of course, safety. Is it safe, or sensible, to cycle with a one-year-old in London?

This is an individual and personal decision. One parent might say yes, another may well say hell no. We have come down on the side of yes, with restrictions.

There is risk associated with everything we do; it’s a fact of life. I take a risk every time I put Cherry in the car, on a bus or train; even when I push her across the road in her buggy.

I am a naturally optimistic thinker. I do not really consider that Cherry and I might be involved in a car crash when I drive her anywhere, or that we might be hit by a bus when I push her across the road. This doesn’t mean I hurtle recklessly along at 90mph or blithely shove her into the path of oncoming traffic assuming it will stop. But within the constraints of taking appropriate measures to remain safe, I assume that Cherry and I will remain safe.

I do not live my life in fear of what may happen.

The same applies to cycling. I am a confident, experienced and extremely competent cyclist and have 100% faith in my own ability. I have cycled since I was four years old, in the last five years I have cycled up to 30 miles a day through London’s busiest and most congested roads, and I haven’t a scratch on me.

Given that I was willing to commute by bike every day before I had a child, when my most precious worldly possession was, by definition, myself, I must feel that the risks associated with cycling in London are inherently very small.

The same arguments apply for horse-riding, a lifelong passion of mine I hope Cherry will one day share. She will ride a pony as soon as she is old enough, and the risks associated are risks I am comfortable with.

So, Cherry will cycle with me. She will wear a helmet (as will I) and we will cycle locally only, during the quieter daytime hours, avoid rush hour, rain or slippery conditions, and darkness, and stay off-road (we live near several South London commons) as much as possible.

I have chosen a front bicycle seat for her, as I think having her up front with me is the safest place for her to be at the moment.

As soon as she is old enough she will have her own bike – and this is actually where my fears for her safety will increase. Up front on the bike with me, she has the benefit of my years of experience, road-sense, instincts and knowledge.

It’s when she’s let loose on a bike by herself, wobbling madly along with a huge grin on her face, that I will probably start to worry.

We would love to know your thoughts about and experiences of cycling with your children. Feel free to use the comments below to document your stories.

Next Tuesday in part two, Cathy takes Cherry out for a spin.


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