Kidical Mass Reading First Birthday Ride


Kidical Mass Reading launched in April 2022. This means that if it were a person it would now be old enough to sit in most child bike seats, even the ones without extra suspension. An exciting milestone to be sure (less importantly it might also be thinking about walking and talking soon, and there’s some walkie talkie news further down this post).

About 35 people gathered at Thames Lido for the ride – despite the fact that many of our “regulars” were away for the holidays. Before setting off we were reminded that the rides aren’t just “cute little fun rides”, they are also a statement that the next generation deserve space to move safely in our cities, and a chance to learn from other cycling families. Not going to lie though, we were also pretty cute and fun – my favourite was the passerby who said wonderingly, “Wow, it’s like a parade!”


On previous rides we’ve made use of a few helmet communication devices – one on the leader, one on the back marker and one on the ride coordinator who then moved through the ride instructing marshals. My husband Simon, who plans and leads the Reading routes and really loves a gadget, decided it was time for an upgrade. He acquired a large set of walkie talkies and every marshal was armed with one for the ride. It meant that as he approached pinch points he could call for extra marshals up front and they would appear almost immediately (thanks guys, you’re all amazing – special shout out to Nick with his cowbell which was great at grabbing attention and caused many smiles).

This was pretty handy, because it was our most complicated route yet. Kat Heath, our fearless leader, has been clear from the start that she wants the rides to be very visible – they work far better as a campaigning tool that way. However, safety is paramount. It is only now that we are a rather more experienced organising and marshalling team that we felt comfortable leading a ride through the town centre. If that’s not a clear sign that infrastructure needs to change, I don’t know what would be!


We were grateful to the bus drivers parked on Station Road who were all very polite to the marshals and smiled and waved as the group rode past. We used the bus lane under the railway bridge to swing through to the Caversham side of the station (only possible going North), where I saw two reminders that change is possible in Reading.

The first is the traffic light where I used to have to wait on my bike for a taxi or bus to join me before it went green. I reported it, and it was adjusted so that it can now see me. The second was the station tunnel, which the council has voted to open up to cyclists. We very much look forward to taking a ride through there as soon as it is legal to do so.


The award for Most Gratifying Kid On The Ride goes to the child who asked at the finish line, “Can we do that again?” We happily told him the date for the next ride (Sunday 7th May, 2pm, meeting by Thames Lido) but it transpired that he actually wanted to go again immediately. Sadly he had to settle for cake and playing with the other children on the nearby grass, but I hope we’ll see him (and you, dear reader) next time.