Precious few of these children will be gifted bikes they can ride safely. The majority, of course, will be supermarket tat, with paper-mache ball-bearings and tin-can headsets. But not all IBD bikes are terribly tot-friendly either. No doubt this is a reflection of market attitudes. Parents think their kids will outgrow their first bicycles quickly so don’t want to spend too much.
Because parents don’t want to spend too much, bike shops usually can’t be bothered to service such a low profit sector. There are quality kids bikes out there (and not horrendously expensive either), it’s just a shame they don’t get wider circulation.
I run a ‘teaching tots to cycle’ session at my local primary school. This is different to the Go Ride course for bike confident youngsters I take on Friday afternoons. After the tots crack the balancing trick (I use Likeabikes) the next task is to get them to stop, not an easy thing to teach when the bikes being used are so shoddy.
I urge parents to buy better bikes, and to go to friendly local independents rather than Asda. For the most part, this they do, something that really pleases me. Not only are the kids getting turned on to cycling at an important early age, their parents are introduced to quality, life-affirming bicycle retailers.
Talking about life affirming, I guess you’ll now know about the chance Sustrans has of bagging 50 million quid just before Christmas. The bike route charity has made it on to a shortlist of four ‘national’ projects which will all be televised on an ITV programme in early December. It’s a beauty pageant, and one in which cycling is the most beautiful contestant. The other projects are worthy, but fixed to small geographical areas (such as Sherwood Forest or the Eden Project in Cornwall).
The Sustrans Connect2 project is truly national. On November 26th you can start voting online. Go to Sustrans.org.uk for details.
If Sustrans wins the £50m, cycling is the winner, too, growing in popularity. More cyclists equals more customers. Vote for Sustrans!