Denise Marshal has blogged for us before about why she’s been a Pedestrian on Parliament – and this year she’s got a brand new reason to be on foot
Normally, I’d cycle. I have a car, I have a licence, but I always prefer to cycle — Don the appropriate clothes and I can be outside in any weather, getting fresh air and getting my blood moving! And it’s faster than walking, so very much faster than walking! (It’s faster than driving sometimes — I’m looking at you, rush-hour Edinburgh.)
But now I have babies (because my three-year-old is still just so little, really)… and I can’t cycle, not with a six-month-old, not when the roads are full of potholes and the pavements often don’t have any dropped kerbs to speak of. The poor wee baby couldn’t even go in a car seat in a cargo bike because I just don’t have anywhere I could store one.
So I’m waiting.
I can’t even comfortably use the buggy, the state the pavements are in out in these suburbs where I live! I’m constantly bumping up and down and up and down, trying to squeeze between stone walls and transit vans who’re parked half on the pavement and half in the road — assuming there’s a pavement at all. And there’s potholes on the pavements, from those vehicles who are always parked on the pavements.
Normally, if I can’t cycle and it’s only a mile or two, I’ll walk. I still like my fresh air, I still like my exercise. So I carry my kids in slings and I walk. It’s slow but it’s peaceful during those lulls when there’s not heavy traffic roaring by.
And I wait — until the council can lay a route take that’s smooth enough for me to take my baby on my bike? One that’s away from the vehicles that would almost certainly park on it, blocking my passage and making still more potholes? Sadly, I don’t really expect that will happen soon enough.
I’m waiting until my baby is older, a robust toddler, before I can get back on my bike with my children. And then I wonder — how will the roads be? Will people pass me safely? Will the journey be peaceful enough that the children will be able to fall asleep? Will I be able to avoid the potholes?
I’m waiting, impatiently, as patiently as I can. Because it feels silly having to drive when it’s only 3 or 4 miles, and frustrating when I need to get somewhere quickly. My babies love the fresh air, too, and it’s sad that they have to wait to learn how refreshing the breeze can be, how fun the rain can be, and how satisfying it can be to get somewhere quickly while really participating in the journey.
It’s time for our roads to be designed for our children — whether they be in cars, in bike trailers, or cycling themselves to school. If we want our country to be safer and healthier, we need more active travel for EVERYONE, and this includes the babies.
If you don’t have a bicycle or you, too, have a baby who’s too small to ride with you, then join me and other pedestrians at Pedal on Parliament this year! I’m tired of all this waiting.