Thoughts from Skyride Bolton

Yesterday was the day of the Bolton Skyride; an event that happens at different dates & times in various towns and cities across the country. On these days,  the town is disrupted as roads are closed to allow families and individuals to ride their bicycles without the fear that is normally associated with cycling on the roads.

In many respects,  it is encouraging to see that there are so many people keen to get out on bicycles when they get the opportunity. As well as families on their otherwise seldom-used bikes and small children on pedal cycles and balance bikes, yesterday’s event was particularly striking for the number on people on unicycles. Small children were unicycling alongside big sisters, mums and dads. As a fun day in the town it works well, and my granddaughter was excited and delighted to take part on the back of my bike.

As a cycling event, though,  it is always, for me, tinged with some sadness and frustration. After all everyone seems so excited about being able, on one day in 365, to do something that the Dutch are able to enjoy every single day in practically every town in the country.

The sight that stands out in my mind is that of the notices at several places on the short route saying: “Caution! Live traffic ahead.” It brings to mind signs saying “Caution, live wires, 2000 volts!”, and just serves to emphasise the dire situation on the streets in our country.

So,  a small round of applause to British Cycling and Sky for making this happen, for reminding so many people that they have a bike in the garage, and for giving them the opportunity to enjoy it before it’s put away again until next year.

A small thanks even to Bolton Council for allowing the streets to be taken over. But it does raise again the question,  Bolton: what are you going to do about the other 364 days each year? What will you do about the aggressive,  impatient,  ignorant drivers who make life extremely unpleasant for those of us who already use a bicycle for transport every day? What will you do to make the use of a bicycle a viable transport choice for all the other people who are too afraid to get on their bikes on all but one day in the year? What will you do to allow my little granddaughter to cycle to school when she is able to balance on a bike of her own?

Come on Bolton, let’s stop messing about with all this self-congratulatory delusion that something significant happened yesterday, and start doing something that really matters. Let’s do something that will make our town and its environs a pleasant place to be every day. Let’s do something that will have a good chance of reversing the devastating trend in adult and childhood obesity and the health problems and health care costs that come with it.

How about it Bolton Council? Are you prepared to make the bold changes that are needed?

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