Thursday, 22 May 2014

From Crystal Palace to cricket bags

Has Walk to School Week inspired your family to try a new route or to leave the car at home more often?

Phoebe (age 6) and Olly (12) have been cycling or walking to school from their home near Crystal Palace this week.  Their mum told us: 

"Phoebe has the longest journey as she cycles all the way to Herne Hill School. We mapped the route. It's 3.37 miles. She's loved every minute of it." 

We're impressed! 

To add to the challenge, Olly has needed his cricket kit in school a few times this week. That can take some determination to carry on a bike.

So how do some children manage to carry a large cricket bag independently? 

  • For smaller sports bags (SB and XSB in cricket sizes) it's usually no problem to stuff the whole lot into a bicycle pannier.
  • For youth-sized or full-sized kit our favourite solution is the rucksack-style cricket bag - much more practical than trundling an enormous and unwieldy wheelie bag. As well as making it possible to cycle with your kit, it's also much easier to carry onto the bus or train, to walk with friends between home and school or sports club, or just to stroll to the pavilion.

Monday, 19 May 2014

On the road to independence

Our guest blog this week is from 13 year old Kika Hendry. If you'd like to try free individual cycle lessons like Kika, please contact Cycle Confident. We'd also love to hear from others who might like to share the story of their journey to school.

"Do you love riding your bike like I do? There are many reasons why cycling is good for everyone: less pollution, less congestion, more exercise, better health, perhaps even saving some money. But I like cycling to school and to my extra-curricular activities because I like the feeling of independence. It’s fun being in charge of my own transport, timings and schedules. It gives my mum a break from being my chauffeur and puts her in a good mood too. 
I started cycling regularly fairly recently, I had just outgrown my bike again (the ones that only saw Dulwich park once in a blue moon) and my mum persuaded me to get a good bike. So I did! I then got some free individual cycle lessons too with Jawad, a cycling instructor who works for Southwark council. Together we explored my way to school from my house, finding the safest route, working out how to approach tricky junctions and where to position myself on the road and at crossings. Equipped with some lessons, a helmet and other essential bike equipment I now take to the Herne Hill and Dulwich roads all on my own. 
Cycling is not only great fun, it's an excellent form of exercise.  Cycling strengthens the leg muscles and increases cardiovascular endurance … I can tell I’m getting fitter when riding up that Holmdene Road. At first, I thought I’ll never make it to the top in one go… now it’s just part of my everyday cycling routine … no sweat. 
I’m aware that my mum and other people in her cycle group are campaigning for safer cycle roads and yes, it would be nice to have dedicated cycle lanes like they have in Germany or Denmark. It would make it safer for everyone. Still, I can’t hang around for this to happen … God knows how long that will take to sort out. 
In the meantime, I love riding my bike, it means I can stay longer with friends at school if I want to, not having to fear that my mum and sister are waiting for me somewhere. I also got to know my neighbourhood tons better and feel much more part of it now. My bike rides let me really enjoy these spring mornings. I hear the birds chirp and soak up the colours of the sky, and watch the trees and flowers come out in bloom all around me. Had I driven, I would have missed all of that, too absorbed in the radio and sectioned off from the outside. I feel the morning breeze, cool on my cheeks. Had I walked, I would have moved too slowly to experience the crisp wind whipping against my face. Only cycling can I reach that perfect tempo, that perfect balance between motion and stillness, where I am actively going somewhere and can take the time to appreciate the scenery around me. 
Riding my bike, I feel free and fast … I don’t even mind cycling in the rain. So in conclusion, bike riding is very important: it helps your health and your mind. Oh, and also the planet we live on. " 

Monday, 5 May 2014

National Walking Month

May is National Walking Month, so look out for inspiration from Living Streets, the British Heart Foundation  and Walk England to help us enjoy more of our everyday journeys on foot.

During Walk to School week 19th-23rd May, many of our local schools, teachers and parents will make a special effort to encourage all children to walk at least some of the journey to school.

As well as enjoying the mental and physical benefits of an active journey, leaving the car at home means everyone can benefit from better air quality, less congestion and calmer streets.

If you have lots to carry, are travelling a longer distance, or find walking difficult, why not ride a bike sometimes too?

Dates for your diary

Saturday 17 May - The Big Ride - leaving Dulwich Village at 10.30am

The 'Space for Cycling' Big Ride is a fun mass bike ride with a serious message, asking for streets that are safe and inviting for Londoners on bikes of all ages and abilities. The Big Ride starts in Park Lane at 12 (meet from 11am) and follows a motor-traffic free route ending at 2pm at Temple. There is a feeder ride leaving from Dulwich Village roundabout at 10.30 for anyone who wants to cycle to the start point with an easy-paced family friendly group, thanks to amazing volunteers from Croydon Cyclists and others.

Wednesday 11 June - Sustrans, Dulwich Society and Safe Routes - 8pm at the Methodist Church Hall, 155 Half Moon Lane (near Beckwith Road)

Sustrans is coming to Dulwich to help give ideas and discuss how we can share our roads in ways which make our streets safer and more pleasant for all. Hosted by The Dulwich Society and Safe Routes to School, the meeting will take place on Wednesday, 11 June at 8pm at the Methodist Church Hall, 155 Half Moon Lane. Come and have your say on how you’d like Dulwich and Herne Hill to respond to the challenges of increasing demands on our roads.