A couple of weeks ago I nearly lost my son under the wheels of a car.
I’ve not had to remind him for months to ‘stop!’ at the edge of the pavement and he’d moved onto identifying all manner of ‘driveaways’ on our journeys that needed to be assessed for their safe passage. That morning his normal ‘pavement sensor’ failed and he rolled into the road, for about 40 cms, as I screamed stop and tried to grab hold of him. A car whooshed by, just centimetres from my precious boy, and I felt the vomit rising in my throat at the thought of what might have been; I held him close, crouched on the pavement.
From my crouched position I saw what my son could see – a clear road and nothing else but a large HGV, which blocked the view to his right. We see the HGV several times a week, parked outside the Co-Op, and usually I’m just irritated that I have to ‘share the road’ with a vehicle that wouldn’t even notice if it went over me. I’m not sure if it interfered with my son’s ability to recognise the end of the pavement, but it certainly prevented the motorised traffic from seeing the tiny boy on his balance bike with his mummy by the side of the road preparing to cross.
As I spilled out this story to my kind and sympathetic boss an hour later I got more furious that we design roads that don’t protect vulnerable road users, don’t encourage active travel and can leave a parent shaking with fear when they try to cross the road with their preschooler. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Last year I wrote a post about why my family would be peddaling on parliament. We’ll be doing same this year, and we’ll do the same again every year until Scotland is a place where you can feel safe on our roads – as a pedestrian and as a cyclist.
To quote the organisers:
“Cycling should be the obvious solution for many of Scotland’s ills – as we have long said in our manifesto. Report after report after report has shown that cycling improves people’s health, cuts congestion, reduces pollution, boosts the economy, and generally provides returns on investment unparalleled by any other form of transport. But these benefits won’t come about just through a bit of training and encouragement. All the research shows that most people won’t cycle unless they have the conditions to do it in that are safe and, just as importantly, in which they feel safe – especially if they have a family. That takes real and sustained investment.”
Pedal on Parliament have produced a lovely short animination about Katie, her family and the conditions that they need to get out of their car and cycle. Please join us on 25 April in Edinburgh and help every child in Scotland cycle to school, to the woods, to see their friends and come home again safely.