'My daughter covers her eyes as SUVs rev towards us – we need safer streets'
Daniel Glaser, Camden Cycling Campaign
- Credit: PA Images
I was cycling along Kentish Town Road when I saw my eldest daughter’s old child seat on the back of the bike in front. I’d listed it online and it had been picked up that same day by the youngest-looking grandfather I’d ever met and here he was with his grandchild braving the lunchtime traffic.
I still have the extra seat on the crossbar but since my older two girls went to big school it’s just me and the littlest one soldiering up Lyndhurst Road on the way to Fitzjohns in the morning. Recently, I’ve noticed a significant change.
Admittedly there’s only one other guy stupid enough to cycle two children up the hill with no electric assist. But I’ve noticed more and more cargo bikes with little kids sitting in the front. And taking my coffee in Belsize Village there’s now a parade of bikes with empty child seats heading into town.
The problem is the traffic. The roads in Belsize Park are barely wide enough for two normal sized cars to pass when there’s parking on both sides. And on the school run it’s rarely normal sized cars.
I do almost feel sympathy for drivers of SUVs sitting nose to nose outside their children’s school with everyone staring. It must be frustrating. But the problem for me is that I can’t get past.
Despite my daughter’s pleas I won’t cycle on the pavement, so she now covers her eyes as SUVs rev towards us.
I still remember when Belsize Village was a through route before the 1990s' closure to north-south traffic.
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It was probably controversial then, but I can’t see anyone wanting to get rid of the "village feel" now.
The recent Court of Appeal decision upholding TfL’s Streetspace initiative makes it easier for boroughs to implement government policy.
Schemes in Netherhall and Haverstock are a good start but we must all be vocal in our support for safer streets.
Chat to your neighbours, to school run parents. Engage the heads of local schools. Support consultations and applaud local councillors who want to make our streets more liveable for all. And pop your kids on your bikes or theirs and get cycling!
I’ll ask my daughter to give you a wave. I’ll probably be panting too hard.
Daniel Glaser is from Camden Cycling Campaign.