Categories
Life on bikes

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Maths was my favourite subject as a kid (and I still love it now). One of the interesting problems I remember learning about is the Prisoner’s Dilemma. The premise is this: you and a pal are suspected of wrongdoing. You are taken into separate rooms and questioned. If both of you say you didn’t do it, you both serve a short sentence. If both of you say you did do it, you both serve a medium length sentence. But if one of you admits to the crime and the other does not, the one who talked goes free and the one who didn’t fess up gets locked away for a really long time. What should you do?

The mathematically correct answer to the dilemma is this: if each prisoner acts solely in their own interest, they will always turn each other in, even though they would be better off if they both kept quiet.

Sometimes I think that the choices people make around transport modes are a kind of prisoner’s dilemma. Except the losing option if we all act solely in our own interests is “large parts of the planet become uninhabitable”.

“There’s so much traffic on the road that I wouldn’t feel safe riding a bike.”

If everyone who could ride a bike to get where they were going chose to do so, the roads would feel a lot safer for all of us.

“I drive a big car because I feel safer around the rest of the traffic.”

When I walk my children through car parks I have to remind them to stay extra close to me around SUVs, because the drivers are so high up they might not be able to see them.

“There’s no space for dedicated bike infrastructure on our roads because they are too narrow.”

I agree, our roads are narrow in places. If I were queen for a day I would bring in legislation around bringing down vehicle width. When I’m on my bike, I really feel the difference between being overtaken by someone in an SUV or someone in a smaller lighter car.

SUV Share of registrations: 2021: 50%, 2022: 57%, 2023: 60%

I gave you the mathematically correct answer to the prisoner’s dilemma above. However, I’ve always felt that the actually correct answer is to associate with the kind of people who won’t turn you in. I also reckon the morally correct answer (leaving aside the issue of the crime committed at the opening of the problem) is to be the kind of person who is willing to do what’s right for your friends.

We are in a climate crisis. I know you all know this. I do think we see more and more bikes on Reading’s roads as the years go by. I’m grateful to all those people who make the sometimes difficult choice (I know we don’t have the best infrastructure yet) to travel this way. The more people make that choice, the easier it will be for others to do the same.

So, Dear Reader, if you want a new year’s resolution but haven’t yet settled on one, how about this?
When you travel, look at the options reasonably available to you and consider as a factor the impact that your choices make on other road users.
When your car reaches the end of its life maybe a car with a smaller footprint would be sufficient to transport your family.
Perhaps public transport is viable for your commute.
Maybe some of your journeys could be moved to active travel.

And if, after all of that, you sometimes find yourself on a bike in Reading, do pop by to join one of our rides.

Categories
Report

New Routes and Old Problems

Last year we found that (apart from Christmas) our Winter rides were generally low on numbers. I believe we discussed this and decided that, as much as people love free, fun, family friendly bike rides, they love them slightly less when the weather is freezing.

We clearly forgot that we’d learned this when we scheduled the rides for this year, as between us and Wokingham we’ve had monthly rides between November and January, finishing with a double ride month in February. However, numbers have not been bad at all – last week we started off with 33 (including several new faces), and finished with 38 (thanks to excellent recruitment efforts from the marshals to passing cyclists).

Perhaps this is in part because of how mild February has been to date – the temperatures are in the double digits, daffodils are growing and I am trying not to think about whether or not this is something I should be worrying about from a climate change perspective.

On a positive note, we had a last minute route change – which we’ve had before due to path closures and roadworks (our planner always checks the route in the day or two before the ride). However, this time it was for a very good reason – the route on the North side of the Kennet is finally open. It has been closed for a very long time whilst the area was under construction, to the great frustration of our official route planner Simon Smart (which I have heard about at length, Dear Reader, because he is my husband and we have the best pillow talk, if your definition of “best pillow talk” is chat about cycle lanes).

This is a much easier connection into the centre of town with children than we have previously had from Thames Lido – it avoids several points that require our marshals to be on alert, including cycling alongside Kings Road for a short way after passing the Narrowboat (previously known as the Bel and Dragon), merging out onto Duke Street and cycling past Reading Central Library. It’s now a route to Forbury Gardens that we would consider doing as a family with the kids on their own bikes, whereas before there is no way we would have attempted it outside of a Kidical Mass ride.

The only fly in the ointment is a boom barrier between Chestnut walk and the Abbey archway, where you have to push your bike up onto the pavement without a drop curb and walk around (unless you are four, in which case you can limbo on under the bar – a very rare case of a route being more accessible to kids than adults!). Kidical Mass will be using our voice at the cycle forum to ask the council to look at improving the connectivity here, as it is otherwise a lovely and much needed low traffic route into town from East Reading.

Coming through town we had the usual run ins with rail replacement buses parked on the “no stopping” section of the route past the station (there seem to be some almost permanently stationed there at the moment, which is something of a problem), and the occasional impatient driver who really didn’t see why they shouldn’t drive straight through a group of very young cyclists – all ably managed by our marshals, of course. I would be remiss, of course, if I didn’t mention that most drivers we encountered were friendly and polite.

At the end of the ride the kids had a great time riding around with their new friends – and many of our new faces let us know that they hope to see us for the next ride as they were heading off. We look forward to seeing them (and perhaps you, Dear Reader?) in Wokingham next week on 17th Feb, or in Reading or Wokingham for the Safe Streets Now action ride on 20th April.

Categories
Annual General Meeting

Annual General Meeting minutes

On Sunday 14th January Kidical Mass Reading held its first AGM. The purpose of this meeting was to officially adopt the constitution, define a list of members and elect the committee, all of which we did. We also heard a report from the Chair (Kat Heath) in which she thanked everyone for their involvement and the Treasurer (Samuel Langlois) updating us on how the £3.8k grant received from the university last year has/will be spent.

Per the constitution, membership is open to anyone who has attended 3 or more rides, and anyone who wasn’t at the meeting who would like to be on the list of members should let the membership secretary (currently Hilary) know. Being a member gives you a vote in selecting the committee — this is the only purpose of membership, otherwise we make no distinction between members and other volunteers/marshals.

Kidical Mass is largely organised by WhatsApp. The two members and friends groups are “KM Reading+Wokingham” which has a lot of organisational chatter/conversation, and “KM Reading Marshals” which is used primarily for letting marshals know details about the rides and is deliberately low chatter. Anyone who is only in the marshals group (or vice versa) and who would like to be added to the other one should let us know. We agreed that minutes from the AGM (which is what these are) would be circulated in both WhatsApp groups, and that any members who did not want to be in those groups should let us know how they would otherwise like to be contacted with the minutes (there were none this time).

MEMBERS
  • Hilary Smart
  • Simon Smart
  • Samuel Langlois
  • Adrian Betteridge
  • Natalie Wilson
  • Kat Heath
  • Rodrigo Perez Vega
  • Jeroen Wouters
  • Olivier Iffrig-Petit
  • Al Neil
  • Sam Hatfield
  • Sergio De Gregorio
COMMITTEE
Categories
Report

Uni-Cycling around

The first bullet point I listed when drafting this write up was a very happy one, “People showed up!” This was not necessarily a given on a freezing mid-January ride on new territory for us, so we were delighted to have around 50 riders present, including several new faces. It’s great when so many families show up to celebrate cycling together, helping children to build confidence and campaigning for better cycling infrastructure. 

The new territory was the University of Reading site. I’m afraid, Dear Reader, that the pun in the title of this article is slightly gratuitous as we did not in fact have any unicyclists join us (though, going for an increase rather than a decrease in wheel count, we did have several tricycles). You will see on the list of upcoming rides that we will be back on the Uni site on Sat 18th May, and many brownie points (if not actual brownies) will be available for anyone who shows up on an actual unicycle, thereby enabling me to use this pun more legitimately.

The 4km route was probably our calmest and easiest to marshal yet, and involved lots of segregated bike paths. Where we were on the roads, they were (at the weekend anyway) very quiet, and the cars that were moving around were relatively slow and calm. We passed several other groups who were clearly out for an afternoon’s ride together. It was great to see how infrastructure like that enables families to get out and ride together even without the friendly Kidical Mass marshals present to keep traffic at bay.

There was only one point on the route we had any issue with, and that was a spot where there were a couple of bollards quite close together on a bridge – most of us could get through but some wider trikes and bikes had to take a slightly longer route around. We’ve flagged this to the university in the hopes that they might be able to make this pinch point a bit more accessible.

The quality of the infrastructure would have been reason enough to want to run a Kidical Mass ride on the university site, but we are also have another link to the University of Reading – they kindly awarded us a community grant last year. This grant has enabled us to ensure we continue to have insurance and relevant safety equipment for the rides, funded the build a bike workshop and helped us to publicise the rides more widely. We are so grateful for their support.

On the subject of insurance, Dear Reader, if you have happened upon this blog and don’t live in Reading and are thinking, “I need to get one of those Kidical Mass things in my home town” (an obvious conclusion after reading about the all the fun we have here in Reading) our own Kat Heath has helped to put together a guide to setting up a ride, which includes instructions on how to affiliate to the UK network of rides and get covered by the insurance:

This was a particularly special ride for Kat as her little one balance biked the whole thing independently – his first one. The younger of our Kidical Mass Interns (Mr 4) also rode on his own pedal bike with me at the back of the ride and helped me to make sure that we didn’t lose anyone. You’d think that after what is for little legs a very long ride that at the finish point they’d want to stop and rest, but nope, most of the kids got back on their bikes to ride around the square. Karen Roberts from Avanti Cycling, who joined us from the ride, organised them into a race and then very liberally declared EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM the winner. “You are the winner of the under 5’s!” “You are the fastest balance biker! “You two are the joint co-winners of the under 10’s category!” Hi-fives all round.

And indeed, as we piled into the pub afterwards with many of our Kidical Mass friends to hold the AGM, elect the committee, and discuss the successes of last year and the plans for this year (more on this in the blog next week), it did feel like at Kidical Mass we can all be winners. I’m looking forward to seeing many of our Kidical Mass friends again (and perhaps you, Dear Reader?) at the next ride on Sunday 4th February, meeting at Thames Lido at 2pm.

Categories
Life on bikes

My nose is froze, and my ears are froze, and my toes are froze!

Winter is here! Those of us who cycle with children know that a cold child on a bike is a very bad thing. Mostly because we love them so much and don’t want them to suffer, but also partly because they can get extremely whiny.

The quote in the title of this article is from the version of 101 Dalmatians which I watched as a kid (you will be kind, Dear Reader, and not attempt to do the maths on my age). Without the “my tail is froze” line which I have deleted it’s a pretty good summary of the list of complaints we’ve had from our kids over the years (though it is missing fingers, which is fair enough as dogs don’t have them, and actually ours have never whinged about their noses). I thought I’d share something about how we have addressed them.

Firstly, keeping the child’s body warm. They don’t get as much wind chill as we do (being somewhat sheltered behind our bodies) but they aren’t doing exercise in a bike seat so we tended to wrap them up pretty warm. We loved an all-in-one snowsuit, right up until the point of potty training when suddenly the ability to undress quickly becomes REALLY IMPORTANT. After that, we went waterproof dungarees (sometimes called puddle jumpers or puddle busters) over a warm coat. No gap for wind chill, but they can still be peeing in a bush on the side of the road 10 seconds after pulling over.

For feet, we tried all sorts of shoes/socks/boots combinations, but the thing that really solved it was snow boots – the fluffy lining made their toes very cosy. For their ears, we found a thin but warm woolen “elephant hood” could fit under their helmet and kept their ears toasty.

Now, if my husband and I had only ever bought the older Kidical Mass Intern into the world, this article would end, “and for hands, gloves”, and that would be the end of it. So aren’t we all so glad that the younger Kidical Mass Intern came along to make all of our lives so interesting?

Around the age of two, the younger Kidical Mass Intern decided that Gloves Were For Losers. So I would put them on and start cycling, then he would take them off and throw them away, then shortly thereafter (but, crucially, long enough that we’d moved down the road and the gloves were no longer anywhere to be seen), he would start crying because his hands were cold. He also, for a short while, did this with his shoes. Being his mother is one of the greatest joys of my life, but it is not always a joy in every single moment.

Even from here, as I write this several weeks before you are reading it, I can hear you thinking, “Hasn’t she ever heard of mittens on a string?’ Of course I have, Dear Reader, and it was there I turned next. Unfortunately, it transpires that many manufacturers of mittens-on-a-string do not make them with the idea in mind that children are actively going to attempt to dismember them. The younger Kidical Mass Intern is quite strong, so we lost quite a few pairs of gloves that way. The strings, of course, stayed safely inside his coat, but that was cold comfort.

When I finally found a pair with a strong enough string to stand up to him I found a new problem. Gloves are tricky to put on, when you’re two, He would take them off, and (grudgingly) leave them dangling off his arms, then yell that his hands were cold. I knew that he couldn’t get the gloves back on unassisted. Our monthly gloves bill had at least gone down, but I was now pulling over every few minutes.

So, finally, I ordered him a muff – an item I associated previously with Laura Ingalls Wilder books and flower girls at posh weddings. It was SUPER warm. I could tie the string that was meant to go around his neck to the back of his child seat so he couldn’t throw it away. He could operate it himself, so I didn’t need to pull over (or feel guilty if I didn’t) to help get it back on when he took it off.

Now, for the million dollar question. Did that keep his hands warm? Nope. But it did stop me feeling guilty about it as I knew he had the option to tuck his hands safely away at any point that he chose. What actually solved the problem (as with many things in parenting) was time. When Winter came around again and he was a year older it finally made sense to him that cold hands could be avoided by keeping warm things on them. HURRAH!

If you want a Winter bike ride opportunity to test out your child weather-proofing plan, do join us for a circular ride from Reading University Campus at 2pm on Sunday 14th January.

Categories
Report

A Kidical-Christ-Mass ride

I have very good memories of the Kidical Mass Christmas ride last year. We often expect lower turnouts in the cold months, but December was an exception and lots of families turned up to ride with Santa. The weather, though cold, was clear and the sunshine beamed down on us.

I’d love to say that we had similar luck this year  – in which case this article would perhaps twist towards claiming that the universe is clearly on our side and in favour of us campaigning for safer bike lines and helping kids build confidence on the rides whilst building a community of cycling families. However, I’m afraid, Dear Reader, that the day started out looking like the universe was kindly giving us a chance to prove our dedication to the cause.

The weather forecast had deteriorated overnight and looked totally miserable. Heavy rain was predicted for the whole afternoon, with the possibility of temperatures that were close to freezing. There were many messages flying around the WhatsApp groups as we tried to work out how best to weather proof an outdoor bike ride for an unknown number of children. Several people collected up all the spare gloves they owned to bring with them (it’s surprising how many gloves one child can accumulate, though mine now mostly own many many single gloves rather than pairs). There was very little shelter at our planned end point (Thames Lido) so we discussed a change of route to a shorter ride that could finish at Forbury gardens (which is a short walk from the Lido but a rather longer bike ride if you don’t want to navigate the Vastern Road roundabout), where the now-renovated bandstand would offer somewhere dry to stand. We battle planned how to make the hot chocolate mobile, as having promised it in all our communications we didn’t want to let any children (or adults!) down.

In the end, however, we got pretty lucky with the weather as the worst of the rain held off and the temperature did lift. Perhaps the universe is on our side and wants better for Reading!

I think everyone else was reading a different (and more accurate!) weather forecast to us, as we had one of the best turnouts we’ve had to date. Just under 70 riders showed up to ride with Santa and his elves. Santa rode at the front on a tandem with ride leader Simon, and the marshals were identifiable not only by their hi-vis vests but also by their reindeer antlers. The children were delighted to see Santa, and of course he had to say hello to most of them (with many hi-fives exchanged) before we set off.

Santa and kid doing a high-five

I had another issue that almost made me late for the ride, which was that my kids decided they ABSOLUTELY HAD to wear their elf hats. These do not fit over a bike helmet, so I was in our kitchen duct taping hats to helmets and muttering “argh, we’re going to be late,” just fifteen minutes before the ride. Thankfully the kids were pretty motivated to get there in time and see Santa, so we positively flew over Christchurch Bridge and along the towpath (with due care for pedestrians, of course) to join the crowd.

I think we made quite a spectacle riding through town, with many people stopping to watch, take photos and smile and wave. The younger Kidical Mass Intern (Mr just-turned-4) did the first part of the ride on his own bike then came up onto mine at the back of the ride when he got tired. I tasked him with calling out “Merry Christmas” to the people and town, which he did in between yelling, “Look! I’m an Elf!” He got a very high hit rate on friendly replies.

At Forbury gardens Santa’s grown-up elf set up shop to do free bike maintenance for anyone who’s bike needed a tune up. I was personally particularly grateful for his patience with Mr 4 who hung round persistently determined to chat to his fellow elf about all things North Pole related – he got some quite inventive answers!

Santa's elf fixing a bike

Santa congratulated all the children on how well they had ridden and passed out presents (bells, lights and reflectors) and a little book that we’d put together as a sort of Christmas card from us to the kids (see next week!). We plied them with hot chocolate and cake and then quite a lot of them decided that what they really wanted to be doing after a long, damp, cold bike ride was to… ride their bikes around Forbury Gardens. I love the energy that children bring (except when they’re mine, at bedtime, when I would rather they bought a little less of it!)

All in all, it was a very successful and happy ride, and I’m feeling all Christmassy after it. So I know it’s a little early, but I’ll take this opportunity to wish for a very happy Christmas season to all of the Kidical Mass People – the kids, the grown ups, the marshals and the organising team. You’re all brilliant!

Hot chocolate being served by a freezing Kat

If you missed out on this ride (or even if you didn’t) don’t forget our next rides: Wokingham will be holding a ride on Saturday 16th December at 2pm, meeting at Elms Field. The next ride in Reading will be around the university campus at 2pm on Sunday 14th January.

Categories
Report

Glowing to the pub

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:

  1. To highlight the benefit of being well lit.
  2. 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)
  3. 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!

Categories
Life on bikes

Why being a cyclist is like being a woman

I would hardly be the first to observe that being a cyclist in a car space is a bit like being a woman in reality. The world isn’t really designed with you in mind, and you are a bit more vulnerable that those around you, often in ways that they don’t realise. As someone who identifies both as “woman” and “cyclist”, here are five similarities I’ve noticed between the two.

1. We worry about our friends…

When my husband goes out riding late at night I ask him to share his location with me. This is mostly so I can see how far away from home he is and have an idea of when he’ll get back, but there is also a little voice inside my head that thinks, at least I’ll know where to send the ambulance if he gets hit. Women do this for each other too – tell me where you’re going, let me know when you get safely home.

2.…Because we know someone who has been hurt.

Some years ago my husband was knocked off his bike by a car that turned straight into him from the other side of the road without looking. He got off relatively lightly, but still had to make major adjustments to his life for months of recovery time. We know it’s a risk, but we still get on our bikes and live our lives every day (with sensible precautions) because the alternative is unacceptable.

3. We are expected to move around in spaces where we are very vulnerable

Yes, not all men. Yes, not all drivers. But still, when I’m on the road I don’t know which drivers think that getting to their destination thirty seconds faster is more important than my life – so I have to cycle defensively and position myself protectively on the road around all of them. Many drivers don’t recognise that the actions we take are for safety reasons, they think we’re just being awkward.

4. If something does go wrong, everyone will ask what I was wearing

No helmet, black clothes, and killed by a car? Guess what the narrative in the media would focus on if that happened to me. What would actually make me safer as a woman and a cyclist is a change in culture and infrastructure, not a bigger focus on how I can “make myself safe”.

5. We still need to look out for other, more vulnerable groups

It’s easy to notice situations where you have been disadvantaged, but sometimes it’s harder to recognise situations where it’s you that has the upper hand. As cyclists, we (rightly, I think, given the climate crisis) are asking motorists to make space for us – but we also need to make sure that we are treating pedestrians with caution and respect. Just because we’re a vulnerable minority doesn’t mean that we’re the most vulnerable minority.

On that note, we’ve said before and I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate that, regardless of your ethnicity, religion, gender, sex or sexual orientation, you and your family are welcome at our rides if you want better cycling infrastructure for children in Reading.

Aside from women and cyclists having a lot in common, women who are cyclists can face additional barriers, especially around cycling in the dark. Together with Reading Cycle Campaign and Avanti we are hosting a Glow Ride on Friday 10th November at 6pm, meeting at the Thames Lido (see the Facebook event). We hope to draw attention to the issue of safe cycling at night. The ride will be at a comfortable adult riding pace and will not be marshalled. Come and join us for the ride and please do stay for a drink afterwards.

Categories
Infrastructure

To bike lane or not to bike lane

 
Last year, Reading Cycle Campaign ran a photo competition under the heading “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” for cycle infrastructure in Reading. I submitted under all three categories, and managed to win under the “good” category for the Tiger crossing on Gosbrook Road.

My entry for the “Bad” category was the bit of the cycle lane on Lower Henley Road which was very narrow and squeezed against parked cars. I felt it actively encourages cyclists to cycle too close to the parked cars, and drivers to not give them enough space when passing. I’m not the first person to have concerns about the safety of this lane: when the lane was first put in, just under a decade age, the then-chair of Reading Cycle Campaign made the local papers with his safety concerns. He wanted the lane to be made wider and for there to be more of a gap between the cyclists and the parked cars. The road is on the R4, an official cycle route according to Reading Council, and an important connection between lower Caversham and Caversham Park.

Well, the council heard our safety concerns and finally decided to take action in the recent round of road repainting and resurfacing…by removing the cycling infrastructure on the road in the direction going out towards Henley. Not just the bits that people complained about, but also the bits that they haven’t. In particular, they have removed the bike boxes by the traffic lights at the junction with Henley Road. There is a steep hill approaching the traffic lights, a hill that is very difficult to stop and restart on (if you’re not on an e-bike, anyway…). Previously, if the traffic stopped whilst you were halfway up the hill, you could filter safely to the front ready for the next phase of the lights, knowing you had somewhere to wait. Now, you cannot.

Aerial view of the crossing

Frustratingly, despite the fact that there are several organisations attempting to engage with the council on the subject of cycling infrastructure, recent opinions were not sought. Apparently some comments from when the lane was installed about how it could be safer have been taken as a mandate to rip it out entirely. Compare and contrast, at a recent cycle forum meeting I asked about the feasibility of installing cycle hangers on some roads in Reading. I was told this would not be possible without a consultation along each road which showed a majority of residents in favour, as it would remove one parking space for motorists. One single space! Yet an entire bike lane on a key route was taken out without a consultation.

So, to the council, we have a few requests:

  1. Reinstate the bike boxes immediately. There were never any safety concerns about that part of the infrastructure.
  2. Come up with a plan for how you can put a safe lane in, and do it. Currently you have reallocated space from cyclists to motorists which is the reverse of your stated aims.
  3. Talk to us! You have set up various forums, and we really appreciate that councillors attended the Reading Cycle Campaign annual general meeting, to have quite an awkward discussion about this change. We’re full of opinions and always happy to give them to you in advance of you making changes.

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s interesting to note that we are often told no cycling infrastructure can be put in because there is no funding. Perhaps we could get some bits in as part of the general maintenance and resurfacing plans, as it does seem layout changes can be made under this programme.

And to you, Dear Reader, please join us in emailing the relevant councillors – Cllr John Ennis and Cllr Jacopo Lanzoni – who were at the Reading Cycle Campaign annual general meeting and said the best way to get change on this point was to inundate them with emails.


Update 30-Nov-2023

We were really excited to learn todat that @ReadingCouncil has listened to the feedback and Lower Henley Road will have its Advanced Stop Line back, as well as a mandatory cycle lane!
Thank you to everyone who used their voice to fight for people on bikes safety on this road.

Slide shown during the Reading Borough Council session, showing a drawing of Lower Henley Road having a cycle lane and advanced stop line
Categories
Report

Santa on a bike

On Sunday 26th November Santa Claus is coming to town (Reading, to be precise) on a bike. Last Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed R(e)i(n)d(e)er gave Santa a sleigh ride in his bike. This year Santa and Rudolph will lead the Kidical Mass Reading ride on a tandem. The people of Reading are hereby invited to join them for a fun, free and family friendly bike ride.

Come as reindeer, elves, or just as you are, as our marshals help us ride safely through the town. Remember to wrap up warm, especially your hands, feet and ears, so that you don’t end up feeling as cold as Frosty the Snowman. Bring your best jingle bells, and we’ll bring the tunes, and we’ll be riding and rocking around the Christmas tree in the town centre together.

Santa will bring a small present for every child, and after the ride, though we can’t provide mistletoe and wine for the adults (you’ll have to find that when you’re safely home if you’re so inclined), the Lido have very kindly offered to provide free hot chocolate for the children. One of Santa’s elves will join us to offer minor bike repairs and to show the children how to check their brakes and gears.

We will meet on bikes on Sunday 26th November at Thames Lido at 2pm. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. We will ride a 5km circular route at the pace of the slowest rider, suitable for anyone on two (or three) wheels, from small children to grandparents. Hopefully after the exercise and the excitement we will all have a silent night!

Kidical Mass Reading exists to help children have fun on bikes, and to highlight the need for cycling infrastructure that works for children. All I want for Christmas is you all being able to ride safely through our town every day, not just when our marshals are present to protect you.

If you miss Santa at the Reading ride he will be visiting Wokingham on Saturday 16th December, meeting at Elms Field at 2pm.

For details of further rides, or for updates in extreme weather (e.g. an early white Christmas), find us here at kidicalmassreading.co.uk or on Facebook under Family Cycling Reading.

We wish you a merry Christmas!

CHALLENGE

In this article there are 12 (sometimes not very well) hidden Christmas song titles. Can you find them all?

Reveal the song names
  • Santa claus is coming to town
  • Last Christmas
  • Rudolf the Red nose reindeer
  • Sleigh ride
  • Frosty the snowman
  • Jingle bells
  • Rocking around the Christmas tree
  • Mistletoe and wine
  • Silent night
  • All I want for Christmas is you
  • White Christmas
  • We wish you a merry Christmas