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!”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.