One of my earliest memories is riding my little blue and white bike round and round the farm where I grew up playing chase with my friends. My bike had been fished out of the ditch and fixed up for me to ride, we didn’t have money for fancy new bikes! However, when I was 8 and started at a new school a few miles away it was decided that my Mum and I would cycle to school every day. In order to be safe on the road we needed a better bike and I remember the trip to the bike shop so well. It was a very exciting and special day! We bought a green bike which had a little hinge in the middle so that it could fold in two – remember those?! Mum and I rode to school most days and I loved it.
Both my children have taken to bike riding very easily, especially Phoebe who was riding on two wheels before she turned 3! When Archie got his place at secondary school and we moved to Northampton we knew we had to find a house near enough to the school for him to be able to ride his bike when needed. My parents bought Archie a bike especially for riding to school just like they did for me and it was a lot more nerve wracking letting him go than I thought it would be!
As a parent I think I’m pretty chilled out. My parents never really worried too much about letting me, or any of my siblings, go off places on our own and I’ve been very much the same. Archie was allowed to play out at the park with his friends from quite a young age and was walking to the bus on his own from the age of 9. However, when it came to cycling to school in Northampton it was a little bit different. Being out and about with your friends when you live in a small market town is one thing but moving to a much bigger town and having to get to school on your own in a strange place was a bit of a bigger jump for Archie than he was prepared for. When it came to the crunch he just wasn’t comfortable riding on his own to school so we abandoned the idea at first.
Archie built his confidence riding his bike around the local neighbourhood and then Andrew cycled the route to school with him a few times so he knew where he was going. He did make the journey on his own a few times and I remember having my heart in my mouth the first day – terrified that he might not actually get there!
Now he’s in year 9 cycling to school is something Archie does a few times a week. He’s a pretty safe rider but I do often wonder quite how safe he is on the road. He never took a cycling proficiency test, I can’t really remember why, but I think just kind of thought he would ‘get’ it and be able to ride on the roads like I did. I guess it never occurred to me that things have changed a bit in 35 years and maybe it might be a good idea to teach my son some rules of the road! It was only a few weeks ago (nearly 3 years since he first started riding to school) when he asked me what he needed to do to indicate he was turning a corner! I actually felt a bit sick!
Winglights are indicators for bikes! What a great idea! They’re so easy to attach to your bike’s handle bars and then are simple to operate with a tap on the appropriate light. Archie thinks they’re pretty cool and they give me the peace of mind that he is just that little bit safer on the road.
I desperately want my children to be independent, to have the freedom that I had as a child, but when you learn that every year, in the UK, there are nearly 19000 accidents involving bicycles and 75% of these occur at junctions and major turns, it can make you think twice about letting them loose on the roads. Winglights increase a cyclists ability to be seen and reduce those opportunities for accidents.
Archie has been using his Winglights for the past week and is really happy with them. The version we have are the Winglights POP and are £19.99 to buy. There are more expensive versions but these are great for casual riders.
We’re hoping to do more and more bike riding as a family, especially now I have a bike of my own again! We’ll definitely be getting more for the rest of our bikes…making us all that much safer on the roads.