According to Unicef’s most recent Child Well Being in Rich Countries survey, Dutch kids ranked as the happiest kids in the world. The recipe for their success is their parents are similarly happy, they feel no pressure to excel in school and have limited stress. They have no homework or have very little and thus have plenty of time to play after school and most importantly loads of cycling. It’s as simple as that so why don’t we adopt the Dutch approach and start by banning the car on the school run. We could reduce traffic congestion, clean up the air in our towns and cities, get our little ones more active, and foster their independence.
The Dutch enthusiastically embrace two wheels weaving along on dedicated bike paths, and drivers reflexively looking out for cyclists means that it’s very safe and good fun. Kids have the freedom to cycle off to school, socialise or simply explore, giving them confidence, exercise and loads of independence; what child wouldn’t be happy about that?
They also believe it’s far worse to deprive kids of their freedom by wrapping them in a protective bubble and eliminating all risk from their lives. This last point might resonate with parents who’d prefer their offspring to be outside climbing trees, playing in mud or kicking a football, rather than indoors hypnotised by their Xbox or on social media. This mindset is driven by a cultural vision and acceptance that cycling is okay (in fact it is encouraged) and this is where the UK is sadly lacking.
I realise that we can’t totally abolish cars from the school run, or can we?. Some people absolutely need to drive their kids to school due to distance or geographic location but if we all give the Dutch approach a try then maybe society will have to finally accept the benefits of cycling and the positives of independent and healthy kids.
Editor, CADENCE Cycling Magazine
Whitlock McCann Media Ltd
Twitter: cadencemag Website: cadencemag.co.uk
Columnist at Dorset Eye and Leamington Courier