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The people behind KM — Jeroen

What is your current family bike setup?

We are a family of three: two parents and a 9 year old.  We have a fairly basic bike setup: boring hybrid bikes for mum and dad and a much cooler mountain bike for our beloved son. To transport groceries and other items we use low-cost, low-tech solutions such as panniers or a crate tied to a bike rack. To transport heavier or larger objects I have a flatbed trailer.

When our son was smaller we shared a bike, using various versions of Yepp bike seats. At first he was seated at the front of the bike, on the stem of the handlebars, then moving to the rear before graduating to his own balance bike (his first bike was an actual BMW convertible, btw).

How does cycling fit into your life?

Cycling has always been my primary mode of transport, in all of the 6 different countries I’ve lived in. We’ve never owned a car and so many beautiful moments in my life are inextricably linked with cycling. Cycling to Sydney’s scenic Bronte beach or Copenhagen’s fantastic indoor and outdoor playgrounds with my son are some of my most precious memories.

I really loved to have my child on my bike with me, either happily chatting about all kinds of things we’d see along the way, or him quietly dozing off with his head resting against my back after a busy day out. I’m very grateful for these wonderful moments that we wouldn’t have had if we’d have been in a car.

Why did you get involved in Kidical Mass?

If you had told me ten years ago that I would get into cycle campaigning, I probably would not have believed you.

Growing up up in Flanders, cycling was such a normal part of every day life that I never gave it much thought. Where I grew up, no family was considered to be a “cycling family”, every family cycled! As a child, I could visit friends and explore my neighbourhood by bike. My bicycle was a very important part in the development of my sense of independence.

Many years later we moved to the UK and even though I’m a very experienced cyclist, I still vividly remember how anxious I was the first time cycling on UK roads. Nevertheless, we still cycle nearly everywhere as a family for many reasons. It keeps us fit, it’s sustainable, and we don’t put others at risk, or pollute the air.

Here, my child isn’t free to cycle independently at all, though. Because of the dangerous UK roads, I constantly need to supervise him. I got involved in Kidical Mass because I want him to have the same freedom I had. I want him to have safe public spaces to explore. I want him to have clean air to breathe and a liveable future climate.

What is your role in Kidical Mass?

I only participated in my first Kidical Mass ride less than a year ago, so I’m a newcomer to the team. I’ve marshalled a few rides, I’m working with other organisers to obtain funding to support Kidical Mass and I’ve helped to spread the word about Kidical Mass by distributing leaflets.

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The people behind KM — Rodrigo

What is your current family bike setup?

I currently own a second-hand bike that my partner got for me from Reading Bike Kitchen, and I must admit, I absolutely love it. There’s also the added benefit that I can leave it in Central Reading without constantly worrying about it getting stolen.😊

How does cycling fit into your life?

Cycling has recently become a significant part of my life. Although I used to cycle as a kid and teenager, the allure of four-wheeled vehicles took over once I got my driver’s license. However, rediscovering the joy of cycling happened when I started dating my current partner. Initially, it was just casual rides around Reading and its surroundings, but now, it has transformed into my preferred mode for short distances. Whether it’s meeting friends in town or commuting to work (especially on rain-free days), cycling has seamlessly integrated itself into my lifestyle.

Why did you get involved in Kidical Mass?

My journey with Kidical Mass began when my partner invited me to join a ride in Inverness. The experience was intimidating at first, cycling on an A road before joining the rest of the ride in the city centre. However, this initial challenge piqued my interest. Upon returning to Reading, I participated in the first Kidical Mass ride here. It turned out to be not just fun, but also an eye-opener. These rides helped me discover new routes in Reading, boosting my confidence to cycle on roads and encouraging me to incorporate biking into my daily activities.

What is your role in Kidical Mass?

Initially, I assisted as a marshal, ensuring the safety of the riders. I still take on this role when the need arises. Now, I actively participate in the rides because they’re enjoyable and enriching experiences. I also collaborate with other organisers to secure funding that can sustain and expand this initiative. Being part of Kidical Mass has not only enhanced my biking skills but also ignited a passion for promoting cycling within the community.

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The people behind KM — Balthasar

What is your current family bike setup?

We currently have four bikes: each of our two daughters has their own Isla Bike, which we are big fans of. They’re light and agile and incredibly sturdy. We bought them second-hand, and apart from a few scratches on the frame they are flawless.

For us adults, we own a regular touring bike that I bought about 8 years ago. Components are optimized for low maintenance, to serve for daily commute and transportation needs, even when you don’t have the time to keep it in tip-top shape.

And lastly our trusty Urban Arrow Family cargo bike, to ferry the kids or shopping (or both). It has electric assistance, which is really great for a hilly place like Reading. My wife and I have a similar leg length and we can share the bikes without needing much adjustment. We own also various child seats and a trailer, which have been used less and less since we bought the cargo bike.

How does cycling fit into your life?

Cycling has been the main means of transport my entire life. Growing up in Germany I cycled to school by myself and used it to go to friends, if necessary paired with a local commuter train that gave me an amazing range, long before I reached any legal driving age. As a student, I lived in a mid-sized German city where cycling was cheaper, faster and more convenient than public transport or driving. Only later we got a car and used it mainly for longer distance travel, especially since having kids.

Now, we do most of our daily trips by bike, so a typical day might look like this: I do the morning school run (with the cargo bike) and cycle on to the office. My wife works from home and uses the other bike in the afternoon to meet me at my workplace (conveniently on the way) to swap bikes and pick up the kids and continue to play dates, a play park or simply back home.

Occasionally there is even a friend coming along, riding with three kids in the cargo box, which is something we couldn’t even do by car without planning child seat logistics ahead.

With this, and many other family outings and trips in between, we ramped up more than 5000 miles on the cargo bike in the three years since we bought it.

Why did you get involved in Kidical Mass?

We moved to Reading four years ago, expecting to be able to continue our cycling habits as before. Suffice to say that I was slightly disappointed – virtually no dedicated cycling infrastructure beyond a few disconnected bits and pieces, which meant I had to use the road where I encountered surprisingly many aggressive and hostile drivers. In short, it didn’t feel safe. It was entirely unimaginable to let my kids cycle in this environment the way I did growing up.

A few months later, the first COVID lockdown happened and traffic nearly disappeared. We bought the cargo bike and went cycling frequently, exploring the landscape on beautiful country roads. None of that is possible in the same way any more but it showed what it could be like. So, when Simon told us about the initiative to set up Kidical Mass, we were immediately on board and have been since the first Reading ride (sadly missed a few in-between, though). Back then, our little one was still on a balance bike but managed to ride about half the length on her own, before enjoying the rest comfortably in the cargo bike, watching her older sister pedal along with the group.

What is your role in Kidical Mass?

I’m filling in when needed and able, so you may have seen me as a regular participant with our kids, as a marshal, test riding a route to see if it works for a long bike as ours, or carrying loudspeakers and cake, to spread joy during and after the ride.

Thanks to our cargo bike, I also frequently end up as a people carrier, be it for a dad whose bike didn’t fit in the car but only his daughter’s (and cycling to the start point from home wasn’t safe!), or for a city councillor and even Santa!

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The people behind KM — Samuel

What is your current family bike setup?

We each have our own bike, including our 3 daughters. They are regular, cheap, Decathlon bikes, because I’ve had too many being stolen over the years…

We also have a very old tandem — see picture — which we got as a wedding gift! We use it for short trips, but it has no gear, bad brakes and uncomfortable saddles, so it’s a treat for special occasions.

How does cycling fit into your life?

I commute from Reading to London nearly every day, so I cycle from home to the station, take the train, and then cycle in London as well, using the TfL rental bikes. Each bike ride is 15 min, so I pedal one hour every working day. It keeps me fit, and on time 🙂

I also cycle for groceries, running errands, etc. As a family, we decided to ditch our car 3 years ago, because we were not using it much. Cycling is our primary mode of transport. But I don’t use it for sport, and never wear Lycra!

Why did you get involved in Kidical Mass?

Several years ago, I had finally managed to convince the whole family to use their bike every day, to go to secondary school or to work, and was very proud of that. A few months later, they all had given up and went back to walking, after various incidents, or just because it’s not convenient to cycle. I realised that not everyone is as confident as I am on a bike, and that we need to empower casual cyclists too.

I also see that transport is changing a lot in most European cities, with the introduction of bike lanes, rental bikes, electric scooters, etc. The UK has a very strong car culture and is late on this.

Overall, Kidical Mass is about promoting transportation methods which are small, silent, non-polluting and non-deadly!

What is your role in Kidical Mass?

I take care of our website, and I am a regular marshal. I’m also the treasurer, but there is not much happening there at the moment 🙂

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The people behind KM — Simon

What is your current family bike setup?

We have two primary “family bikes”. My wife and I share the Tern GSD, a long-tail cargo e-bike which can carry both children and lots of luggage. We also have a tandem which I have adapted to take a child who is pedalling, as well as having a child seat.

Additionally I also have a couple of standard bicycles and we have a collection of various child-sized bicycles.

How does cycling fit into your life?

I started cycling as my main mode of transport aged 16 — I loved the freedom that it gave me, and I still feel that way every time I get on a bike.

As an adult, bicycles have always been my main way of getting around. This is especially true now we’re in Reading, which is such an unpleasant and slow place to drive in. I couldn’t imagine family life any other way.

Why did you get involved in Kidical Mass?

Although my children are currently small, and travel mostly on my bike, this won’t be true for very long. And the time that they will want the freedom to get around by themselves (that I enjoyed as a child in Cambridge) will come very soon.

Reading is a fairly hostile place to cycle until you have quite a lot of experience, and preferably some from the perspective of a driver. I really want to try and drive change such that this is no longer true when my children are teenagers.

Above that, the rides are great fun. The children love the opportunity to ride with other children and on the road, and it is wonderful to meet so many other cyclists from the area.

What is your role in Kidical Mass?

I take primary responsibility for planning the routes that we will cycle in Reading, and I lead the majority of the Reading rides.

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The people behind KM — Stefanie

What is your current family bike setup?

We have two adult bikes that my husband and I share: his regular bike and an Urban Arrow family cargo bike. Our daughters (4 and 6) both have bikes with pedals.

We also own a trailer and a bike seat although we use both very rarely these days and prefer the cargo bike.

We have a special pannier bag on the cargo bike that allows us to attach kids bikes if they get tired, increasing the range for all-family cycling trips.

How does cycling fit into your life?

Years ago, when I started university, I didn’t like cycling much, rather preferred my inline skates. During my time at the university I gradually used the bike more and more, to the point when I used it for almost everything in my daily life.

Once I actually got frustrated with my husband when he recommended I should not cycle any more on the icy roads using my half-broken bike at the time, while being pregnant with our second child and towing a toddler in the trailer. (Retrospectively I absolutely see his point but back then, it felt like he was taking away my freedom).

Long story short, since then we moved to the UK and I needed to look for a new bike. At the beginning of the first COVID lockdown, we decided to buy a cargo bike. At that point it felt like we got our freedom back. We were able to go on cycle tours and with very few cars on the road, we felt safe even on lengthy cycling tours on country roads.

We now use the bike every day for school runs. It’s nice being able to pass all the cars waiting in traffic – making the commute time a lot more predictable in the morning.

Why did you get involved in Kidical Mass?

Since lockdowns ended, we could see a steady increase in car traffic and felt less and less safe on the roads. Our kids would love to cycle themselves to school more often. But having them this close to heavy traffic is a stress factor for me, in particular along the horrendous Shinfield Road.

We learned about Kidical Mass from friends who organised the first Reading Ride. Thanks to our great marshals, I can relax and enjoy a bike ride together.

What is your role in Kidical Mass?

I have since joined the organiser team as the regular baker, making sure the kids (and adults) have a little treat at the end.

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The people behind KM — Hilary

What is your current family bike setup?

We have a Tern GSD, an electric long tail cargo bike which can carry both of our kids (aged 6 and 3). This is mostly my bike.

My husband has his single bike (with one child seat) and a tandem. The tandem is set up for a child stoker and has a child seat on the back, so he can carry both kids on that.

The 6 year old has a bike with pedals and gears now, and the 3 year old still rides a balance bike.

How does cycling fit into your life?

We don’t run a car, though we do have co wheels car club membership for longer distance weekend trips where train logistics don’t work. So we use our bikes for pretty much everything on a day to day basis – school runs, music classes, trips out to Henley/Beale Park/Bracknell etc.

For logistics the children are mostly on our bikes as there usually isn’t provision for them to ride their own bikes safely on the roads, but they both enjoy stoking the tandem when they get the chance, and riding along the river to the local park.

Why did you get involved in Kidical Mass?

We got involved in Kidical Mass because we intend to carry on doing our family logistics by bike, and by the time the kids are mature enough to go places on their own we don’t want them to be limited by the quality of the cycling infrastructure. It’s been easy to stay involved because our kids really love the rides and look forward to them each month!

What is your role in Kidical Mass?

Ride write ups, back marking and (very) occasional marshal

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The people behind KM — Kat

What is your current family bike setup?

I have a trailer for wet and cold days, or longer trips and a bike seat on the back of my other bike.

My partner doesn’t really cycle unless with me, so all of our toddler’s set ups are on my bike because he doesn’t feel comfortable enough unless at Kidical Mass rides.

How does cycling fit into your life?

I don’t drive so cycling is my main mode of transport. I don’t cycle for the sake of cycling only very often, more as a way to get to A,B,C and D. But during maternity leave, those commutes would be about 100 miles a week to all our baby classes and seeing friends.

Why did you get involved in Kidical Mass?

I started organising Kidical Masses because my cycling changed: I could no longer weave between traffic in the way I could, B and our trailer were part of traffic. Some junctions we couldn’t fit down the cycle lane to get the stop box.

We’d spent 2 months in hospital when he was born, and I was determined we wouldn’t spend another day there because lack of decent infrastructure put us in unnecessary danger from people driving metal boxes recklessly.

My son deserves a planet that is habitable, he deserves clean air and a healthy and fit Mum. Cycling achieves all of that but feeling unsafe stops so many people from using it as their main form of transport. Kidical Mass helps raise awareness of the need for safe infrastructure which will benefit everyone.

What is your role in Kidical Mass?

I’m one of the organisers and can often be found marshalling a ride while my partner takes our son, and feels safe doing so because I’m there protecting them from people in cars.