Merry And Bright

Our Kidical Mass rides are very kid-centric in terms of route, pace and goals. The route is always relatively short (2 miles / 3 km) and the pace is slow enough for the littlest of riders. The aim is to build kid’s confidence, create space for friendships and campaign for cycling infrastructure that is safe for them. Though, on that last point, we could (and do) argue that safe infrastructure benefits everyone.

None of this would be possible without our brilliant marshals. They seem to very much enjoy the children’s rides, but they’re definitely capable of going further and faster. So we invited them to come and join us with their bikes lit up appropriately for a Glow Ride

We planned a route that mostly ran along the roads. This turned out to be an unexpectedly useful thing as it was freezing, and only the on-road bike paths that run alongside the main car routes are gritted. Reading Council are far from unique in taking this approach, but if they want more residents to consider walking and cycling as a viable alternative to driving, they need to make sure that the main bike and pedestrian routes are just as reliable as the car routes all year round. Yes, I’m looking at you, corner of Christchurch bridge that stays frozen for hours longer than anything else and catches so many people unawares.

It was delightful riding through town with a group of bike geeks and noticing the things everyone got excited by.

Ooo look there’s a bike box at a traffic light and there isn’t a car waiting in it!

The segregated bike lane on Shinfield Road is really coming on! Can’t wait to use it.

Have you been to Kung Fu Kitchen? You really must, the food is excellent and there’s bike parking just outside.

I also noticed that, though we weren’t actively blocking traffic, we ended up with a queue of cars behind us at times (many thanks to those drivers who had the patience not to try and pass when it wasn’t safe to do so). The fact of the matter is that Reading desperately needs a well maintained network of segregated bike infrastructure. Having this would benefit all road users, and I’m including drivers in that. Enabling people to switch to bikes for short journeys will result in clearer roads and would be good for the planet on which we all rely for our existence.

The ride finished at the Bel and Dragon where we found a suitable corner to raise a glass to the successes of Kidical Mass Reading and Wokingham this year. Then we got straight down to the business of planning for next year. Wokingham’s next ride will be at 2pm on Sat 14th Jan, starting from Elms Field. The next ride in Reading will be a circular route from Hills Meadow at 2pm on Sat 11th Feb. With the nearby car park, we’re hoping this will be more accessible to families who are nervous about cycling to or from a start or end point. Do come and join us, and bring your friends and family!


A Christmassy Ride


Santa’s a busy man in December, so we had to plan well in advance to secure his attendance at Reading’s Kidical Mass Ride. Crucial, of course, was what method of transport would be appropriate for him — it had to be bike related.

Our own esteemed Kat Heath (of 100 Women in Cycling fame) made the opening suggestion that he should be riding on a sleigh pulled by a team of six cyclists wearing reindeer antlers. The rest of the planning team, who are blessed with a little less ambition, but a smidgeon more common sense, shot that right down on safety grounds. Can you imagine the tangle we would have got into crossing London Road?


When one of our families pointed out that their Urban Arrow box bike can safely carry an adult, it was the perfect solution. We consulted with Santa and he was keen — after all if it’s good enough for our children then it’s good enough for him. R(e)i(n)de(e)r Balthi even wore antlers and a red nose as he captained the bike.

10th December fell at the start of the very cold snap we’ve been having, and it was bitterly cold. Nevertheless there were a fair few families there and our wonderful marshals came out regardless. Many of us use bikes as our primary form of transport so we were fully equipped with layers of clothes and heavy duty gloves. If you ever have questions like how to keep a baby’s ears warm on a bike (elephant hoods worked for us), do ask!

For the first time ever as we approached London Road I was worried that drivers were getting impatient waiting for the kids to cross as a group.  However, they were only honking and waving at Santa, which is allowed.  Throughout the whole ride we got a positively delightful reaction from onlookers.


On arrival at Forbury Gardens Santa handed out Kidical Mass bike bells, and our wonderful bakers handed out Christmas cookies. There were bells leftover (I’m saying nothing about the cookies) so Santa left them with us — we’ll bring them to future rides so let us know if you missed out. My three year old was extremely excited to fit his official Kidical Mass bell to his balance bike when we got home. I’m not sure our neighbours have been quite as pleased.

Our kids were also very pleased to see their Grandfather who came along for the biscuits and tea in Forbury Gardens. Sadly he just missed seeing Santa, but he was very pleased to hear from them all about how much they’d enjoyed the ride.


December 2022 ride

We had a lovely ride in freezing temperature, but with a wonderful sunshine and an unexpected guest!
Santa is definitely not too old to ride a bike… but he still enjoyed leading the ride carried in a cargo bike.