What sort of bike routes do we need to get kids cycling?

New study launched to find out which cycling routes people deem to be the safest

How safe does a cycle route need to be for a 12 year old to use it unattended? Or a supervised eight year old? Or a toddler on the back of your bike?

We often hear about cycling infrastructure anyone from eight to 80 could use, but research on what this means is scant, even in countries like the Netherlands. Rachel Aldred, senior lecturer in transport at Westminster University, has launched a study to find out exactly what type of routes people need to feel safe cycling with their kids, and she needs your help.

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Her questionnaire features illustrations of street layouts, from busy 30mph to fully segregated routes with concrete kerbs, asking participants if they would use this road with kids, or on their own.

Aldred says: “There are quite a lot of surveys about ‘would you let your children cycle or not’ but we don’t know about what changes would be needed [for them to do so].”

Aldred has 1400 participants already, and is looking to get 2000. She is looking for: “Anyone who has views on where they would cycle with children. It doesn’t have to be regular cyclists, it doesn’t have to be people with children; they might have children in the future, they might have friends with children.”

The results may also help explain the gender gap in utility cycling. “Women tend to make more trips with children than men do. Looking at the increase in cycling in places like London and Bristol, it tends to be among people in their 20s and 30s. It is important in terms of policy to see, once those people start having kids, do their infrastructure choices change in any way?”

Aldred hopes her data will help inform cycling policy, and give more people the option to cycle.

Take part in the University of Westminster Research Project: Cycling by Children and Adults online survey