What I dream for my children
I am not someone who easily steps out into the front. I usually do things quietly and do not show my face where it hasn’t been asked for. But when City Connect were looking for people to promote cycling in West Yorkshire; this Bloom Baker felt summoned. I will tell you why.
Ever since my daughter was born almost 5 years ago it has been my dream and biggest wish that she will grow up feeling the comfort of pedals underneath the soles of her feet.
All this effort put into (segregated) cycling lanes today makes that dream a little bit more tangible. I hope Britain´s cycling facilities will grow up at the same steady pace that both my children will. So that they too will know the inherent freedom that comes with being able to move at your own pace; with your own strength.
Most sincerely I hope that I do not shortchange both my kids by letting them grow up in Leeds and not the Netherlands; the country where I grew up. A country that saw me pedaling away on my own bike at the age of two. A country where two cyclists can cycle side-by-side on the main road or on designated bicycle lanes. A country where I could cycle whilst protected by the larger bikes of my parents next to me; protecting me from cars and other cyclists. A country where there is no need for Lycra. Where we cycle as we are – yes, even in skirts and with high heels on.
Cycling is all I know
I cycle every day, it is what I do. During my two pregnancies, I was on my bike. It keeps me fit, it saves me money. Oh and allows me to indulge in treats.
The harsh reality of hills was very daunting in the beginning. I too, like most other people, am not a big fan of hills. Again, may I remind you that I come from the flatlands of the Netherlands. But I quickly discovered that hills are like life: a bit of struggle to be overcome sometimes. But once you have tackled a hill a few times. You learn to understand how best and most efficiently to climb it. But the best part of a hill lies on the other side (over the hill); the downhill part! That is a delightful wonderful break. (I told you it was much like life!)
Going downhill is not something we get to experience much in the Netherlands, but there is much to say in favour of it!!
My children ride on my bike every day when we go to her nursery. Aside from teaching them about the different modes of transport, it also teaches them about the elements and that they are not made of sugar. Rain or snow will not melt them and the cold will not freeze them as long as they are dressed for it.
I most sincerely hope that Leeds city council is going to make good use of their cycling grant and will focus on children. Making the roads safe for them to move around with their own pedal power. For the school run to be made by bike. This is not done only by creating bicycle highways. This is done by making bicycle lanes on roads around schools. Put your money where you will get the largest return for it. Keep your children fit and healthy, because you will need them to be just that when they are older as well.
So please Leeds do not forget the children. Look at the infrastructure of cycling lanes around schools and connect the dots from there.
I dream the above not only for my two kids, but also for the children who I see looking in curiosity and waving from behind car windows as they drive past me on my daily commute to work.