Bikes, belles and babies - new family cycling groups

Trying out an Urban Arrow at Edinburgh Festival of Cycling
Two years ago, Suzanne Forup, Cycling UK ’s Assistant Head of Development, wrote about the challenges of getting ‘back on her bike’ with her son, a toddler at the time. Now she is helping to set up family cycling groups and even more Bike Belles groups to encourage more people in Scotland to cycle.

Back in 2013 I was wondering if I would ever cycle again, after two years off the bike following pregnancy and the premature birth of my son. I'm not sure it would have happened without the support of my local cycling group and their family rides that summer. Riding in a group with experienced parents gave me the confidence and the impetus to try. It was a really  friendly and encouraging environment and I started cycling again. Since then we've covered hundreds of miles as a family, including our first family cycle tour in the Netherlands.

It's clear I'm not the only one that loves to 'cycle en famille'. Our second ‘Bike Curious Family’ workshop at the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling was hugely successful with many families turning up to find out how they can get cycling together. From the number of parents coming along with children, from babes in arms to independently cycling pre-teens, it was evident that parents want to cycle together, for utility and for leisure.

Creating family cycling groups

Thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland  I’ll be able to support other families to get cycling together over the next year. Our Awards for All grant will enable five family cycling groups in Scotland to kick off with a Bike Curious Family event and then get skilled up to run rides together – from ride leader training, to mechanics and first aid courses we’ll be able to help families develop the skills and confidence to get together and ride.

This project takes inspiration from the Kidical Mass movement in the USA, where a network of family cycling groups ride together regularly, to child friendly destinations on low traffic routes.

As well as a great opportunity to meet other cycling families, and help others get cycling, it’s a way of shouting out about infrastructure needs. If our politicians want to see an increase in active travel they need to fund the infrastructure that enables it for everyone – whatever their age, ability or destination. In the run up to the Scottish elections, it’s a great time to invite candidates out for a ride with their children and grandchildren and tell them the difference Dutch standard infrastructure would make to our country.

More Belles on Bikes 

The funding from Big Lottery Fund will also support another five Belles on Bikes groups to develop in Scotland, enabling more women to ride together in a friendly inclusive environment.

If you would like to get cycling with your family, set up a family cycling group or start a Belles on Bikes group in your part of Scotland please get in touch!

Twitter: @backonmybike