I am a relative newcomer to urban cycling. I won a bike in a local radio contest in 2012, and used it on the local trails, strictly recreationally for many years. During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, when the roads were quiet, my family made some changes to our cycling habits and started using our bikes to get around more every day. When my son’s daycare reopened after the initial pandemic closure, I started taking him to and from daycare by bike, pulling him in a child trailer. I’ve been able to keep that up for the last 2 years, and I recently purchased an e-cargo bike to make it easier to travel around urban Halifax with a child.
My son is still attending daycare and loves riding there and back on the e-cargo bike. He’s a pro with his balance bike, and will probably be riding his own pedal bike soon; maybe even this summer. As he grows, I hope that our city’s bicycle infrastructure grows with him, so that he can safely and independently travel to and from school, local parks, and his friends’ homes. To achieve this, I think it’s of the utmost importance that our politicians, traffic engineers, and city planners, see children & families cycling in urban areas every day. This is the essence of Kidical Mass, and the reason I think it’s so important to do this in Halifax NOW. Our city’s current cycling infrastructure doesn’t make it easy for most adults to ride every day. With plans to design and build more cycling routes in Halifax, we need to prioritize routes that make it safe for children to move independently in their communities.
Compared to driving, cycling is an inherently social activity. From the back of the e-cargo bike, during our journeys, my son waves, smiles and shouts “hello” to neighbours and people we see walking and cycling. When we go by bike (instead of by car), we notice familiar faces (and familiar bicycles) on our weekly trip to the market, and on the morning ride to daycare. But, when you’re the only person on a bike amidst a sea of cars (e.g. in the grocery store parking lot, or in my car-centric workplace), riding a bike can also feel pretty isolating. Kidical Mass Halifax aims to provide the sense of community that comes from having a large group of people cycling together. In some places (like the Netherlands), that community comes in the form of a visibly large number of people getting around by bicycle every day, year-round. It’s much easier to create that community when roads are designed specifically with active transportation in mind, as they are in some other parts of the world. In Halifax, Kidical Mass aims to create the same sense of community with a monthly group ride, until our streets are safe enough that children & families feel that sense of community every day that they ride.
We had our first official Kidical Mass Halifax ride on Sunday, May 29th. We were expecting a few families, and also expecting we’d know most of them by name, or by bicycle. But, by the time we were ready to roll our group had grown to 60 people, including grownups (with and without kids) and children of all ages: some on their own bicycles, and others in child seats, trailers, and cargo bikes. After our ride and a chat with group members, I felt renewed enthusiasm for our next ride, and confirmation that the time for Kidical Mass Halifax is now.
Jen Parker is the mother of a bicycle-loving preschooler and has been cycling around Halifax with him for a little over two years. She had the idea for Kidical Mass Halifax after seeing social media posts about the Kidical Mass movement’s growth in the UK and Germany.