The sight of so many children cycling is definitely one of the most gratifying of 2020! Youngsters learning to balance themselves on their bikes, teens cruising around their quiet neighbourhoods, families calmly exploring the city – in short, new habits have emerged from this pandemic. It is heartwarming to hear the testimonies of parents thrilled to able to bike more often in the city with their kids, thanks to the new cycling facilities created in the context of COVID-19.
Crises have the capacity to accelerate behavioural change. This pandemic has made us more aware than ever of how beneficial fresh air and walking or biking are for our mental and physical health. Let’s take advantage of the current back-to-school period to develop new habits in our kids by encouraging them to bike to school – either alone or accompanied, depending on their age. Children, parents and teachers will find that cycling provides an effective outlet, helping to reduce anxiety and create bonds with people in the community. A simple change of habit that does so much good!
During this atypical back-to-school season, we have a responsibility as citizens and road users to be attentive and considerate to youngsters, so that they can feel safe travelling by bike. As cyclists, we also have a role to play in making their experience more enjoyable by showing patience on bike paths when kids slow down the pace and vigilance at intersections. After all, they are the cyclists of the future!
In its own way, the year 2020 has given us a lot. The biking boom across the planet is not just a passing fad, but rather the spark of a newfound humanity.
Happy cycling to school!
President and CEO of Vélo Québec