Dad produces instructional video showing how he helps 7-year-old son cycle to school on busy London roads

VIDEO: watch Sustrans School Officer show the rules of the road to his young son

by Sarah Barth   November 24, 2013  

Sustrans video- Ethan cycles to school

Sustrans’ Schools Officers, Ali Jafarey, who works on the Bike It Plus project in London, has made a video demonstrating how he cycles to school with his son Ethan.

Lessons seven-year-old Ethan take in include taking a central position in the road, negotiating a T-junction, learning when to nip into cycle lanes and when it could end up being more hazardous.

The route to school takes in some busy A-roads, but none of this fazes Ethan, who already displays excellent road sense and patience at busy junctions, not to mention great fitness and speed.

His hand signals, gear changing and turning to look around him aren’t in the least wobbly thanks to three years of cycling practice, and the route, over a mile long with a hill involved, is navigated with ease.

There are some great tips here for parents with children who’d like to cycle to school, and Dad’s calm attitude with lots of praise is to be commended.

The only sad fact is that on the last stretch, the only safe option on a extremely busy road is to cycle on the pavement, although Dad’s keen to point out that when it’s crowded, they push their bikes.

Ali says: “Even being an experienced and lifelong cyclist left me in a cold sweat, thinking of him on London’s busy roads. Working as a cyclist in a professional capacity only slightly cushioned the impact of the dreaded day when we would venture onto the wilderness of the open road.

“We are lucky to live in a quiet suburb of London. At first I chose days and times when I knew there would be less traffic on the roads. I took Ethan to a local cul-de-sac where he could get a feel of the road and be amongst the enormity of cars and trucks.

“I took Ethan out as often as possible, not always for fun rides but as a way of getting to the library, shops, etc. With every venture I could see his desire to ride getting stronger. Now riding is his accepted and indeed his preferred way to get around.

“I must say getting to the point we are today has not been plain sailing, far from it. There have been many stressful times for us and still, though he looks amazing on the bike, there are times when boys-will-be-boys and the freedom of an open road is too irresistible.

“I can only hope that Ethan continues riding throughout his life, but if not at least I tried!”

 

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

That is a beautiful thing.

posted by Some Fella [813 posts]
24th November 2013 - 13:00

35 Likes

Well done to Ethan and Dad. I'm a car free mum and have been cycling like this with my son since he was 8. He's now coming up to 11 years old and unfortunately I believe that our roads are not safe enough for him to ride independantly.

Cycling is our main form of transport, but I find riding with him very stressfull, having to try to control the traffic around us and constantly shouting out instructions to my son is wearing.

Like the film shown here, we often find ourselves illegally riding on pavements to avoid busy roads or junctions.

Segregated/dutch style infrastructure would make our journeys so much more relaxing.

As things stand, I don't really think theres a safe legal option for parents who choose to ride with their children.

posted by Sara_H [56 posts]
24th November 2013 - 13:06

23 Likes

Simple, effective,respectful to other road users and showing other drivers that we're not all egotistical morons in Sky Team (other major cycling teams can equally be inserted-just my personal experience!) Lycra outfits! More of this and less of the sensational Head cams of confrontations and bust ups. You are a real credit and your young son is showing that he is learning life long skills of common sense and respect! Hail future cycling!
Big Grin

MTFU

posted by artfactory [7 posts]
24th November 2013 - 13:15

21 Likes

Well done to Ethan and his dad, lovely to see someone his age riding so sensibly. I occasionally ride with my son to school but don't enjoy the experience. The distance is approximately the same but I feel the journey is hairier. Sadly, in my view, this is mainly down to other parents on the school run. Most seem to be obsessed to getting to and from school as quick as possible and forgetting about others kids walking & crossing the roads.
We tend to ride in the better weather and I adopt a similar position to his dad. However I insist that my boy wears a multicolored fluo vest to help with visibility. Hopefully this makes him/us more visible and then safer.
The other reason we do t ride as often as I would like is the lack of provision of facilities to store his bike safely at school. There are several kids who use bikes from time to time and all seem to use the same small bit of railing to lock the bikes to. When are schools going to wake upto the fact that more and more of us wish to use bikes?

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur, happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr

posted by Izaak30 [85 posts]
24th November 2013 - 13:59

21 Likes

Great Video!!

D A Brett

posted by darenbrett [19 posts]
24th November 2013 - 14:29

15 Likes

Hi Izaak30, you could get cycle training for yourself and your son, just contact your local council and ask about Bikeability. Looks like what he is doing is based on Bikeability. It's a great confidence booster.

posted by horizontal dropout [162 posts]
24th November 2013 - 16:54

12 Likes

Parenting. Doing it right.

posted by Argos74 [300 posts]
24th November 2013 - 17:33

17 Likes

Nice one. Cheered me up after all the negativity of the past week or so.

Kid's lucky to have a father like that.

posted by Ush [420 posts]
24th November 2013 - 17:43

18 Likes

artfactory wrote:
egotistical morons in Sky Team (other major cycling teams can equally be inserted-just my personal experience!) Lycra outfits! More of this and less of the sensational

Talk about a way to infuse a positive subject with nasty prejudices.

posted by Ush [420 posts]
24th November 2013 - 17:45

17 Likes

I know he has a bit of a head start but that's some great bikeriding from the young lad there. It gives us all a bit of hope to see a video like that doesn't it. Quite moving actually.

Northernbike's picture

posted by Northernbike [166 posts]
24th November 2013 - 19:14

9 Likes

horizontal dropout wrote:
Hi Izaak30, you could get cycle training for yourself and your son, just contact your local council and ask about Bikeability. Looks like what he is doing is based on Bikeability. It's a great confidence booster.

Ironically the school do run Bikeability sessions but only for yr6 kids and with about 3 days of term left! I have every confidence I his abilities as he's a pretty accomplished rider as we are both members of a local club and he regularly 'trains'. Granted that's not the same as riding on the road with vehicles coming past but it has improved his handling skills no end. Thanks for the suggestion tho.

Think it needs a) a letter to the head and education authority and more importantly b) for parents on the school run to be more mindful/careful. We've even had a letter about road rage incidents in the schools car park!

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur, happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr

posted by Izaak30 [85 posts]
24th November 2013 - 20:05

15 Likes

I cycle with my five-year-old to her school. She rides on the pavements mostly, with limited excursions onto the quieter roads, while I cycle alongside on the road. I've planned our route so I can always be beside her.

I find one does need to be a confident cyclist to do it. Not only am I cycling in traffic myself, not only am I looking out for her and making sure I give her instructions at the right time but the necessity to pace myself to her makes me feel more vulnerable in the traffic. I really need to keep my wits about me.

She's a good cyclist and making good progress. Hopefully when she's Ethan's age we can be more on the roads together.

Username's picture

posted by Username [75 posts]
24th November 2013 - 20:32

10 Likes

Great Video and well done Ethan and his Dad

If Ali is monitoring comments could he please explain who are accredited/ insured to provide on-road cycle to school training or accompaniment for small groups of children in addition to one's own child?

Sudor

posted by Sudor [183 posts]
25th November 2013 - 8:51

13 Likes

Sudor wrote:
Great Video and well done Ethan and his Dad

If Ali is monitoring comments could he please explain who are accredited/ insured to provide on-road cycle to school training or accompaniment for small groups of children in addition to one's own child?

Bikeability - as another post also mentioned. My sons recently did a course and it's been really helpful. They're both experienced cyclists and have raced and ridden on the road with me, but I thought the lessons would be useful. And they were. Elder son has been contemplating riding his bike to his secondary school when the weather improves, so I thought it was timely. We've worked out a route that keeps him off the main roads now and he can cross a really busy route at a pedestrian crossing, though I'm curious what his school will say as very few other kids ride to school and those who do live much closer. He's been riding since he was 4 and younger son, since he was 3.

I really like this video. The boy will probably be a good car driver too if he ever gets behind the wheel, as he's been taught good road use. It's interesting to note how the father advises the child not to use the cycle lanes provided and the video highlights why they're not fit for purpose due to the proximity of the parked cars. Good to note how considerate the drivers are to the cyclists as well.

I expect some Daily Mail types might rant for the duo hopping the kerb but given the traffic volumes on the road, it's both understandable and acceptable.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
25th November 2013 - 11:28

10 Likes

Quote:
It's interesting to note how the father advises the child not to use the cycle lanes provided and the video highlights why they're not fit for purpose due to the proximity of the parked cars.

Indeed. Glad to see that common sense is being applied to avoid using worthless 'cycle lanes' like these ones. This video gives me hope!

posted by jellysticks [86 posts]
25th November 2013 - 12:38

8 Likes

Great vid, I hope to be taking my daughter to school by bike when she starts (a few years off yet). We currently use a child trailer for the childminder run which works well even if it is too wide to filter in traffic.

One thing I would comment on, and this is acknowledged by Ali, is that the roads generally appear very quiet. Compared to the run that we do to the childminder all of the roads that we use are at least as busy as the one that Ali and Ethan avoided in the video. There is an alternative route for us with slightly quieter roads but its much longer (I'd estimate almost twice the distance) and not possible with the trailer.

Anyway, great vid that might just inspire some parents to cycle to school with their kids.

posted by Matt eaton [451 posts]
27th November 2013 - 9:52

1 Like