The study below states the bleedin’ obvious: kids love cars. ‘Course, they do. Most of them have not been exposed to anything else. Cars are comfy. Cars – on cold days like this – are warm.
OK, cars may be quick, but cars also screw with the planet and your heart/lungs. And 24/7 auto-mobility, for many, is a myth. When Henry Ford gave the world cheap cars, the roads – yet to be topped with tarmac – were endless and, to begin with, largely devoid of other cars, cheap or otherwise.
Not so today. Cities have been strangulated by cars. Citizens live in fear of being killed by cars (witness all the road barriers). We need our cities and towns to curb car use, not encourage it.
But will future generations go Dutch? Will kids get on bikes? Only with a lot of kicking and screaming, it appears. Countries like the Netherlands and Denmark went through that kicking and screaming phase in the 1960s and 70s, leading the current generation to find it perfectly normal and, indeed, chic to get around by bike.
Slowly, pockets of the UK are warming to bikes. It’s not quite such a contrarian thing to do. There are even mainstream books written on the subject of normalising bike use…
When I was sixteen I hung out with petrolhead peers, itching to get their driving licences. Because I’m perverse and will do the opposite of what everybody else is doing, I decided to get a bike instead. Up until that point I hadn’t owned a ‘proper’ bike and hadn’t ridden for years.
I bought a Claud Butler Majestic touring bike and it changed my life. My whole career has been pedal powered. I married a medic who I met via a cycling club. I’m bringing up our kids to think holidaying by bike and urban transport by bike is perfectly normal.
We need less kooks like me (and you?), and more normal people on bikes. This won’t happen by marketing cycling as “cool”. Cycling needs to be seen as normal. This will take time. And this time is coming.