Giving all children access to a bicycle

·2-min read
Most Dutch cycle, but a significant number still do not have bikes.

Two organizations in the Netherlands have published an online brochure designed to ensure that every child has access to a bike at the earliest possible age. It notably gives details of a wide range of initiatives that have already been set up in many places around the world.

For a child, having a bicycle can be extremely useful for transport between home and school, participating in extracurricular activities, and getting a little air and exercise. Cycling offers a host of possibilities, all of which are much less polluting than being driven around in a parent's automobile.

However, even in the Netherlands, many children don't have bikes. With a view to promoting some inspiring initiatives that could help change that, two Dutch NGOs, Tour de Force (TDF) and Dutch Cycling Embassy (DCE) with assistance from the research and consultancy agency Mobycon, have published an e-book on mobility and transport.

The brochure offers details of some 30 initiatives, including one by L'Heureux Cyclage , a French umbrella organization for 125 non-profit associations that promote cycling with repair and maintenance workshops and distributing secondhand bikes. The goal of the new publication is to convince politicians from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to fund similar initiatives in the Netherlands.

As it stands, adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 spend an average of 26 minutes a day on their bikes, using them for 55% of their journeys. The Netherlands is also remarkable because it is the only country where girls cycle as much as boys do. However, this has not prevented large numbers of children from missing out on cycling, mainly because bicycles remain relatively expensive. At the same time, there are initiatives to encourage more children to ride bicycles, and pilot projects in several Dutch cities to provide kids with free bikes. The long-term goal is to ensure that there is a bicycle for every child.

The new e-book, which has been published in English, has been made available to the entire world in the hope that as many people as possible will encourage decision makers to take into account the importance of cycling, and in particular cycling for children.

David Bénard