When my brothers and I went to school it was either walking or on our bikes, my mum had a child seat on the back of her bike, and I remember sitting in it. My mum never learnt to drive, she left that chore to my dad.
I think I remember every bike I’ve had, they’ve always meant a lot to me, I remember every crash as well, I clearly remember the taste of earth, aged about 7, when showing off how fast I could go ended up with a mouthful of soil.
As a teenager my bike was such a blessing, it meant I had transport, I didn’t have to rely on being taxied around by my Dad. My parents lived in West Wickham, green belt land, but a lot of my friends lived further into London, Blackheath, Greenwich and Eltham, so I’d bike there, and back of course, sometimes giving someone a backy to their house on the way.
I came to Liverpool to study at Hope University, or LIHE as it was at the time. Of course my bike came too, sadly it was stolen so I bought another, a Specialised, which lasted me through my degree and a couple of years after, till it too was stolen from the hallway of the flat I lived in on Devonshire Road. Then I got my Claud Butler, which I have to this day, it has carried all three of my children on a child seat at the back. When my last child outgrew the seat and I finally removed it I felt such a sense of freedom, ‘Yes! I can go fast again!’
Some of the best times and days of my life have been on my bike, cycling with friends or on my own and now with my children who all love riding. Yesterday we did one of our favourite rides, through Princes Park, through Sefton Park, through the tunnel under Aigburth Road to the woods of Otterspool. It was the first time my daughter who has just turned five had ridden this route on her own bike and the look of joy on her face made a precious memory for me.
When my daughter was a baby not quite one, she was strapped into her seat on my bike with her rain cover and helmet on, I approached the Princes Park roundabout from Devonshire Road. I looked round and saw that she was fast asleep. It was just after the traffic priority had been changed and there was a large sign reminding people driving down Princes Avenue that they now had to stop for traffic coming around from the right. As I came round to that traffic’s exit point I saw a car approach and slow down, then to my horror it started to speed up again, now directly in front of the car I held up my left hand and shouted ‘Stop’. The next thing I remember I was walking with my bike onto the pavement with people crowding round me attempting to stem the flow of blood from my head. Sitting in the ambulance the policeman said the middle-aged lady who hit me was very shaken up and apologetic. She had never been in an accident before. That was my last accident, for a while I avoided the roundabout, I’m OK with it now, though when I pass the point where I was knocked down it always flits into my mind. I should say that my baby girl was completely unscathed having been asleep and kept in place by her straps and rain cover.
I think the risk of such accidents is the main reason people choose not to cycle. It is such a shame for people to miss out on such a fantastic thing. There are so many pluses to cycling. It barely costs a thing just the maintenance of your bike, short distances can be quicker than a car, it is of course green energy so you are not doing harm to the environment or to people like other traffic does, you get the thrill of being powered by yourself, and you get exercise without having to schedule it into your day, it’s already part of your day, getting from A to B on your own steam.
I never really felt the need to learn to drive, especially living in Liverpool everywhere I need to go is an easily rideable distance. But finally, I passed my test aged 43. My dad gave me his Landrover Freelander when he decided he was no longer a fit driver. I love the car and I love driving it, but not as much as my bike. I’ve always managed my activities on my bike, taking the children to school, doing the shopping and now that I’ve started brewing and selling Kombucha I also do my deliveries on my bike. Sometimes when I announce to my husband, I’m going to do a delivery, he says ‘do you want to take the car love’, I always say ‘no thanks’, why would I want to miss out on the best part of my day, time on my bike, my happy place and what’s more now I’m running a business, I have responsibilities to run that business in an environmentally friendly way.
So, you can imagine the incredible thrill I had when I got the opportunity to do my deliveries on a cargo bike curtsy of Peloton. Oh my gosh my happy place just got even better!