If you were paying attention last week you may have seen that Kidical Mass and friends made the local news (radio and TV) with our “Light up the Night Ride” where over 30 cyclists rode through town together after dark. We were all lit up like Christmas trees (figuratively in some cases and literally in others – my bike and several others were sporting sets of fairy lights).
The point of our ride was threefold:
- To highlight the benefit of being well lit.
- To highlight the need for cycling infrastructure which is well lit (it’s a double whammy for female cyclists if cycle paths feel dark and deserted in Winter)
- To have fun!
(I feel I would be remiss, having mentioned that well lit bikes are safer than poorly lit ones, to not also mention that black cars statistically get into more accidents than bright ones. Do with that information what you will, drivers of Reading – I’d personally love to see more yellow coloured cars on the roads, they’re very cheering.)
To further ensure that aim 3 was achieved, the end point for the ride was the Fisherman’s Cottage, a lovely pub on the Kennet which has lots of railings outside to secure bikes to, and happened to have live music that evening. The ride itself was great fun. We took in some important local landmarks, including the Oracle riverside (where we rode slowly and in single file at walking pace around pedestrians who gave us lots of waves and smiles – thank you!) and of course the completed parts of the new bike lane on Shinfield Road – it was lovely to be in our own space.
A complaint that’s often heard about cyclists (when we are forced to share space with motorists) is that we are slow and therefore get in the way of emergency vehicles. At one point on the ride we heard a siren and saw blue lights behind us. We had managed to get all 30+ of us to the side of the road and out of the way before the cars behind us had also managed to get out of the way to let the ambulance past them. There are certain advantages to being very narrow on the road. The ambulance breezed straight past us with a wave to the ride leader.
The ride was co-organised and promoted by Reading Cycle Campaign and Avanti Cycling. As it was a ride for adults, the route used busier and faster roads than we would on a Kidical Mass ride, and I was grateful to the very experienced riders from those groups who helped us to hold the lane where it wasn’t safe for motorists to pass the group (some, of course, did try). Still, most motorists were calm and friendly and waved as the group passed them. I think we were quite a festive sight! As Kat mentioned in her radio interview, most cyclists are nice people and most motorists are nice people and by and large we all want each other to be able to get where we are going in a safe and timely fashion.
At the pub, we set the world to rights by chatting all things bikes – the different groups were swapping stories of plans they have coming up (our build-a-bike workshop idea was met with much enthusiasm). As I expected, our kids were the only kids on the ride (they went on the triplet at the front with my husband and I was at the back yelling at him over our helmet headsets if they started going too fast for the group), but they had a grand old time chatting bikes and being included in all the conversations. Littlest even asked to stay and doze in my lap rather than going home at bedtime with his grandfather as had been the original plan. Ah, the joys of a Friday evening with no school the next day!
Many thanks to everyone who joined us – I hope we see you again next year!