Cycling Kids: The True Indicator of a Bike-Friendly City

This is a common sight in a true "bike-friendly" city like Copenhagen. Photo: Bike Portland

There’s been a lot of talk this week about who’s riding bikes. A new report finds that the growth in cycling in the U.S. is reflected most dramatically in populations that tend to be marginalized or ignored, while New York City’s transportation commissioner says she’d like to see more women on Citi Bikes.

Wrapping up a trip to Copenhagen (the lucky dog is now in Amsterdam), Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland wrote that a true hospitable cycling environment is one that safely accommodates children.

Young children ride bikes in Copenhagen in great numbers. And they do it by themselves through the city’s busiest intersections amid massive groups of riders. Before I came here, I expected to see lots of families biking together; but I wasn’t prepared to see so many kids riding their own bikes.

Maus describes what it’s like to ride in “everyday” bike traffic in the Danish capital: “There’s a huge mob of other people cycling around you and suddenly you no longer feel like a tiny ant next to a massive machine that can crush you. Instead you feel relaxed, safe, powerful and confident. It’s that type of environment that allows kids to ride on their own.”

“When kids feel confident enough to ride on their own — and parents let them — then your city has truly earned the ‘bike-friendly’ label.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: FABB Blog has tips on choosing a kids’ bike. Transportation for America explains how Washington dropped the ball on bridge maintenance. And the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy reports that Kentucky is set to cut the ribbon on the state’s longest rail-trail.