I've just returned from a week's holiday near Dordrecht, in the Netherlands. While staying there I did a lot of cycling, enjoying being able to relax and not worry about road positioning to keep myself safe. Naturally I took plenty of photos, and I'll blog about various aspects of Dutch infrastructure design that I think are useful for the UK to adopt, but first a post about families cycling, because Birmingham councillors have recently called on schools to "end the school traffic run carnage" that we endure. Enabling families to cycle together is an important step in 'ending the school run traffic carnage', as cycling covers the distance faster than walking does and enables parents to go directly from the school gate to work or shopping. The cycle offers the flexibility that a car does, but is a much more efficient use of space.
But enabling family cycling means building infrastructure that enables parents to feel that their children are safe cycling alongside them, as this family with four young children is doing in the photo above. I must emphasise that that photo was taken in the middle of Dordrecht, not in a quiet suburb or in the countryside - these parents are cycling with their children in the middle of town. I've previously blogged a photo of children in Birmingham cycling independently as well (photo reposted below), the difference being that their mothers were walking because the cycle infrastructure isn't joined up as it is in the Netherlands and the mothers need to be able to control the children more. Riding your own cycle next to your child gives you less control as you have to handle both cycles if the infrastructure runs out.
So I have included here photos of the junction that this family have just cycled through, crossing a distributor road that has buses running along it. The junction has no traffic lights, as the cycles are crossing only 1 lane of motor traffic at a time, with plenty of space between to stop and look the other way. When your children will stop at the junction and look as you instruct them, the same as crossing a road on foot using the Green Cross code, then you can cross this simple junction with them on their own cycles. The wide bi-directional cycle track allows the children to cycle in safety along a busier one-way road, while in the city centre the family can mix with the limited local motor traffic as it is going at a slow speed. This is the goal for transport network infrastructure in the UK - families must be able to cycle from their homes to school and other destinations in a safe space. When we have this, then the 'school run traffic carnage' will end.