When you use a bike as a child, chances are that you will also use a bike as a grown-up. In Denmark, the cycling culture is built through more than 100 years. The foundation of the cycling culture is the fact that Danish children learn to ride a bike from their parents, brothers and sisters, or friends. Cycling is inherited from one generation to the next. But the culture is only kept alive, if it is used. If all children stopped cycling, it would not take long for the cycling culture to decline.
The Cycling Embassy of Denmark places great emphasis on the creation of the best possible conditions for children who cycle. This article provides insight into three different kinds of projects with the purpose of supporting and improving the conditions for the child cycling.
Children should feel encouraged to play and move around, and a bike is an ideal means for that purpose. When children cycle their sense of balance and mobility are stimulated. At the same time, the sense of locality and the perception of space and direction are increased, because the movement is being done at a higher velocity and on a moving vehicle. Furthermore, learning through play is a more effective way of learning than the old-fashioned cycle training with broom handle and supporting wheel. We believe that it is reasonable to begin at the age of two.
When children play on their bike, the focus is shifted from the bike to the playing. When the actual cycling “automated” and the attention is on the surroundings, the basis is created for safe children cycling. The safe cyclist does not think about how the bike works, but only has the focus on the surroundings and the other cyclists.
Cycle games contributes to better cyclists. Because the children have fun while they learn, chances are that they as adults will use the bike as their everyday means of transport.
In Denmark the project “Cycle Games for everybody” consist of the following:
• Aiding in establishing a body of cycle games instructors in different cities and municipalities
• Communicational and educational activities as part of seminars and the like
• The making of cycle games videos
• Promotion of cycle games
To Cycle to School
The project “Safe and Secure to School” contributes to take away the constraints that prevent children from using their bikes safely and securely at school. It could be a matter of infrastructural changes, to improve the road to school physically, or it could be traffic control, motivation, attitude, transport habits and the organization of the school cycling – if any.
The project is connected to an evaluation project at the University of Southern Denmark. The project is carried out on schools in three of the municipalities in the Cycling Embassy of Denmark; Copenhagen, Odense and Fredericia. The schools are offered a broad range of competences, knowledge and counseling regarding school cycling. Each school then has the possibility to pick those initiatives, they find interesting. The interventions are followed up by efficiency measuring of cycle activity, safety and health by the University of Southern Denmark.
The project is supposed to create opportunities from day one. Experience from similar projects shows that new possibilities and proposals arise, when intervening and getting into the daily practice.
As a starting point the following categories are being used:
- The traffic facilities of the school: Bicycle parking facilities; area, capacity and arrangement.
- Bicycle parking facilities; security regarding theft and vandalism.
- Regulation and separation of traffic.
- Better access.
- The road to school: Maintenance.
- Sight conditions
- New cycle lanes
- Crossings and intersections
- Choice of route and short cuts
- Motivation and encouragement: Campaigns and competitions
- Parents’ meetings
- The organization of school cycling
- The habits of transportation in the families.
Remember the lights
”Light on – with Ludvig” has been carried trough for years. It is a campaign with the purpose of increasing children’s visibility and safety in traffic. The campaign is targeting children at the age of 10-11, where a lot of pupils begin at riding their bike to school on their own, and are motivated to learn how to handle the responsibility for their own safety. Very few children know how hard it is for the car drivers to see cyclists without light and reflectors. Through games and learning, “Light on – with Ludvig” increases the knowledge of how important visibility is to their safety – and what to do to increase the visibility. The objective of the campaign is to educate a light accustomed generation of cyclists and in that way decrease the casualties in traffic.
In the following years the focus is to expand and improve the effects of the campaign to:
• Increase the amount of safe children in the traffic.
• Increase the amount of safe adults in the traffic inspired by the children.
• Greater safety in traffic in the winter – decrease in the amount of accidents.
• Improvement of cycle happiness.
• Healthier children with improved health and physical fitness.
Strengthening of the foundation
The above mentioned projects should strengthened the foundation of the Danish cycle culture. “Cycle Games” provides the basic cycle skills, “Light On” provides visibility and safety, while “Safe and Secure to School” helps to increase cycle routine and the great cycle experience, which mean that the bike is used later in life.