Southampton’s first ‘Kidical Mass’ bike ride took place on Bank Holiday Monday 8th May 2023 despite the risk of rain.
Dozens of bikes, including excellent cargo bikes, cycled from the Common to the central parks and back. Organised by Southampton Cycling Campaign, the ride was part of around 500 other rides that took place across Europe during the weekend to campaign for safer streets for children and young people. These ‘Kidical Mass’ rides aim to create a safe cycling atmosphere for children in particular, with multiple bike riders on the street setting a manageable cycling pace and protecting them from cars.
Kidical Mass is an worldwide organisation with a vision for children and young people to be able to safely and independently travel by bicycle wherever they live. The weekend saw Kidical Mass rides happening across Hampshire and other UK locations in addition to Europe, as families demanded child-friendly and cycle-friendly cities.
Kidical Mass Rides are designed to be inclusive for all ages and abilities, for disabled and able-bodied alike. The rides are fun, safe environments for families and friends to cycle together, highlighting the need for safe, segregated routes that enable children to walk, scoot, wheel and cycle in their neighbourhoods.
Ride organiser Lyn Brayshaw, chair of Southampton Cycling Campaign, said, ‘Normally our streets are not safe for children to cycle. With so much vehicular traffic on our roads and car manufacturers making bigger and bigger vehicles, the risks to vulnerable road users such as bike riders and pedestrians are increasing. Many parents now opt to drive their children to school to avoid these dangers, whereas years ago children and young people were able to take independent journeys to school and other places. The increase in traffic adds to traffic jams, poor air quality and dangerous car congestion around our schools, while taking away children’s independence. We wanted to highlight this on our fun, family friendly ride, and provide a safe space for children to cycle freely – with a high number of cyclists on the road, car drivers hang back until it is completely safe to pass.’
The organisers plan to run a second Kidical Mass bike ride in Bike Week on 11th June, and another in International Kidical Mass action weekend on 23rd or 24th September. Anyone is welcome, and in particular volunteer ride marshalls are needed to make it a safe and family friendly event.