Sept 2023 Kidical Mass action weekend

Last weekend saw us back on the route of our first ever Kidical Mass, Palmer Park to Forbury Gardens. We’ve been focusing more on circular routes recently, and I hadn’t realised how long we’d been away. When I asked the younger Kidical Mass intern (Mr 3) if he remembered starting rides there, he said no. I suppose just under a year is a long time when you’re three years old!

Speaking of growing, the Kidical Mass movement in the UK is certainly doing just that. Across this September over 30 Kidical Mass rides and bike buses have been recorded, with more than 3,000 participants – at least double the numbers from April. Here in Reading over 40 people came to our ride (which was only two weeks after the last ride), including Cllr Rob White from Reading and Cllr Al Neal from Wokingham. It’s heartening to think that there are so many people out there who share our aims – safe streets and children who are confident to ride on them, in families who are supported by a cycling community.

For our family, this was a very special ride, as it was the first time our three year old has been able to ride his own bike. We took the recommended approach to teaching him to ride – put him on a balance bike first to learn to steer, then when he was ready we added in pedals. This is the opposite to how I learned (pedals first, with stabilizers, that came off later, so I learned to steer properly quite late in the process). I can see why the balance bike route is recommended!

To be honest, Mr 3 has been ready to ride at least part of the route with Kidical Mass for a month or two now, but with Simon and I involved in organising the rides we have needed him on our bikes so we can keep track of him. This time we had a much-beloved grandfather with us who agreed to man mark him. Mr 3 made it all the way along the Kennet before he asked me to pick him up. At the end of it he was very pleased with himself – and so were we!

The weather this time round was great, and it was lovely watching the children play together in Forbury gardens after the ride. The adults, however, had a bit more of a serious conversation. The Kidical Mass Organisers WhatsApp group has had much to say recently on the subject of the new school (River Academy) being built by Rivermeads, and the routes that children will take to it, especially from Caversham. Between the river and the road and the big roundabout there’s a lot of hazards, and we’d like to see these mitigated. If you agree, please do sign our petition.

In that post ride conversation, Nick (our marshal who brings a cowbell to the rides) showed us all how to use a throw rope – one of the things that would help is if the council installed these along the river. He also talked about the danger of cold shock, and how if you fall into water the best thing to do is to float “like a starfish” for a minute or so until your body adjusts. So now we all know that safety advice, and so do you, Dear Reader.

Assuming, however, that we all manage to stay safely out of the river, our family is looking forward to attending the next Kidical Mass ride – all four of us on our own bikes again as the Wokingham team are organising this one. Sat 7th Oct, 2pm, Elms Field. See you there!