Kidical Mass at the Climate Festival

My husband (and Kidical Mass Reading route planner) Simon works at the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) here in Reading. We are lucky to have within our friendship circle many weather-adjacent scientists. Within this group there seems to be a high level of enthusiasm for choosing bikes over cars where possible for personal travel. Can’t think why (or rather, I choose not to spend too much time dwelling on it as it’s absolutely terrifying).

Far better to channel that energy into something like Kidical Mass, which aims both to support children who are already cycling, and also to push for structural change that will make cycling a safe option for more families.

We aren’t the only Kidical Mass Reading organisers with links to ECMWF, which was handy this month, because when the forecast for our ride came back with thunderstorms we told them to run it again and get a better result. You, dear reader, may tell me that it doesn’t work like that, but I shall tell you in reply that on this occasion it did. The weather for our ride in Reading (and the one in Wokingham the next day) was glorious, despite scattered thunderstorms at other times.

We had a good turnout, including one of our local councillors – Cllr Dave McElroy of Redlands. He was on foot and accompanied by a very small person who had just learned to ride his pedal bike. We assured them that as long as the little person wanted to keep going the ride would be at a pace he could handle – but that we wouldn’t be slowing down for Cllr McElroy himself! Luckily he was willing to run.

(If anyone is reading this and wondering if you could do the same, our routes are about 3-5k and we tend to go around 7km/h. The speed does vary a bit depending on the cohort of children we have on the day. We won’t leave any families behind who don’t want to be dropped but occasionally with balance bikers we have split the group so they and their parent have a dedicated marshal with them. With some little ones I have wondered if they might have enjoyed it more from sat on a parent’s bike, as 3km is a long way to scoot. We do publish our end points so meeting us there is also an option).

A delighted Cllr McElroy being conveyed on a cargo bike

About halfway the littlest rider decided he’d had enough (he’d done brilliantly for someone so new to riding). I offered that he could hitch a ride on my bike, and Balthi (of Christmas reindeer fame) scooped up a delighted Cllr McElroy and the bike the littlest rider had been using. We all rode on in style to our end point, which was the launch of the week-long climate festival in Forbury Gardens. Given how busy it was that’s hopefully a sign of how many people in Reading are enthusiastic about making positive changes for our planet.

If you do join us on future rides unfortunately we won’t be able to offer any lifts to any adults – Balthi and family are moving to Germany (and taking their Urban Arrow with them) and this was their last ride with us. Balthi’s wife Steffi has been our volunteer baker since we started, and if anyone is keen to step into the shoes please do let us know!

Our kids will really miss their kids, they’ve become firm friends through Kidical Mass, which is what it’s all about really.

Well, that and trying to avert climate disaster so our weather-scientist friends can all sleep more easily at night.