A few news stories from Britain caught my eye this week. The first involves a father who has been driving behind his child who walks to school in order to try to keep him safe.
This is as fine an example of a lack of Subjective Safety on the roads of the UK as you're likely to see. Children should be safe to travel on their own, especially by the time they're 11 years of age. However, perhaps there is another way:
Another story I spotted was a story about a rise in driving lessons for children aged 11 and up. A spokesperson from one of the companies involved, Kim Stanton, from Young Driver, said: "We are teaching youngsters the vital skills they are going to need in later life to drive.
Also from the article: 'Brian Mooney, from the Association of British Drivers, said he thought it was a very good idea. "Anything that gets young people accustomed to the car and a bit of responsibility and co-ordinating movements, is a good thing..."'
"Vital skills", getting "young people accustomed to the car". Where can this lead:
A primary school in Cambridge has decided to support a campaign to stop a road (which they're not even on) being transformed to be better for cycling, "due to concerns about where parents will leave their cars when they drop off and collect their children."
The photo shows what the very same school looked like when we took our children there, by foot, five years ago. Neither the police nor the school authorities appeared to have any interest in the problems caused by such parking, and it can only have got worse in the last five years with such car centric attitudes. There are more photos.
The short sighted stupidity of this is quite incredible. I mentioned a few days ago that cycling and walking rates by children were plummeting in the UK while the rate of children driven to school has risen. Is it any surprise that this is happening when even schools are amongst those working against children walking and cycling to school ?
A few weeks ago, I blogged about how schools here are implementing stopping bans specifically to avoid this sort of situation from ever occurring.
And of course there are plenty of other posts on this blog about children. This is also a good chance to mention again the Beauty and the Bike project about why teenage girls in particular do not cycle in the UK. I've now seen the film, and read the book. Both are excellent (I'm in it for a few seconds, as is my youngest daughter, but it's not about us, and we were not paid!)
It's perhaps not surprising that Britain's children, amongst the least independently mobile in Europe, should also be the least happy. The father who drove behind his child later wrote a very good letter "Why do drivers have more rights than the rest" about this experience. Peter Miller also wrote about it.