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‘Kidical Mass’ sees child cyclists take to the streets across Europe

KIDICAL MASS, Only a bike town is a kid friendly town! Photo: Sebastian Peter

From Cologne in Germany, to Bath in England and Graz in Austria, cities across Europe opened up their streets to the ‘Kidical Mass’ movement.

Thousands of children and families in hundreds of towns and cities got on their bikes, balance bikes and scooters over a weekend say, just for once, ‘these are our streets’.

They were ‘demonstrating their mobility’ at the Kidical Mass, a series of demonstrations organised by a coalition of 250 local movements.

Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk – The German Children’s Fund – reports the words of Pina, 8, from Cologne, who said: “I just wish the ways to schools would be safer’, while Alia, also eight, said: “Everyone should take seriously what we do here.”

Kidical Mass is particularly popular in Germany, and one of its organisers, Simone Kraus, put it bluntly: “Children need rights that protect them on the road. That is why we are demanding that road traffic laws be completely revamped.”

The focus, according to Kidical Mass, has to be on protecting children. The movement is advocating for all children to have the right to move around safely and independently, whether on foot or by bike.

It’s great that so many children and adults took to the streets to support the demands of the Kidical Mass Action Alliance

Holger Hofmann, chairman of the German Childhood Charity, said: “We must also give children and young people a say in urban and transport planning on a continuous, comprehensive basis and as early as possible. Children and young people are experts in their own field, even when it comes to their safety on the road.

“We finally need a transport policy geared to the needs of children and young people and a real turnaround in mobility.”

But it’s not just in Germany where Kidical Mass is motivating children and their families to get out and take direct action; the UK has also seen protests across the same weekend – May 14-15 – in a number of its towns and cities.

Saskia Heijltjes is the Bicycle Mayor of Bath, a city of some 100,000 people, and she was at the forefront of its own Kidical Mass ride, having been appointed to her role by an Amsterdam-based social enterprise.

She is part of a network of more than 100 bicycle mayors in 30 countries who share best practice and highlight innovation. Bath has already lined up its next Kidical Mass ride, a Halloween-themed event on October 30.

Meanwhile, in the far north of the UK, the city of Inverness staked its claim to be Scotland’s first Kidical Mass city, as they turned their streets into one big party – with a serious message at its heart.

‘Space for the next generation’

Organisers said: “Our motto is ‘space for the next generation’ and the purpose of this event is to get kids and adults excited about cycling and to improve confidence on the roads by riding in a safe, friendly and welcoming group of cyclists.”

And in Austria, the towns of Linz and Vöcklabruck were just two of many that took part, attracting some 150 cyclists, young and old. Alexander Six, spokesman for Vöcklabruck, said: “Children also want to be able to move around safely and independently. We stay on the ball and are committed to making this possible more than once a year.”

In Germany, more than 74,000 people have signed a petition which supports the aims of the Kidical Mass action alliance for child-friendly road traffic law. It must:

  • Focus on children’s need for protection and aim for ‘Vision Zero’ – zero fatalities and serious injuries
  • Enabling the independent and safe mobility of the children – on the way to school, to friends, to the sports club or playground.

Cities and municipalities, says Kidical Mass, must be given the freedom to implement child and bicycle-friendly measures not only at individual danger spots, but throughout the cities. These include 30 mph/kph speed zones, dedicated ‘cycle streets’ and, based on the Dutch model, protected or structurally separate wide cycle paths on main and country roads, as well as protected crossings.

For more information visit Kidical Mass Germany and Kidical Mass North (Inverness),

Author: Simon Weedy

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