At the Pointy End

‘I wonder how many Saturday mornings <redacted> and <redacted> spend stapling bunting’, mused my fellow campaigner and partner-in-crime, referring to two of the more senior people in the cycling world, as we alternated doing just that with refreshing the weather forecast to see if it would back off from its prediction of four hours of solid heavy rain during the exact period when we had planned a family bike promotion event for the Bigtown cycling campaign. This is the unglamorous grassroots end of the cycle campaigning world: print-your-own bunting, volunteer-led rides, home baking, sheltering under the park bandstand while the rain starts stotting it down on your carefully organised parade.

waiting for the rain to stop

But then again, it’s also finally realising your ambition to carry one bike on another by borrowing the local arts group’s Monster Cargo Bike even if it means taking the lane at a stately 5 mph through Bigtown’s main drag on a Saturday morning because no cycle path will accommodate it and because you can’t work out to get it out of bottom gear

monster cargo bike

Loading the Brompton into the Monster Bike

And it’s watching a lad suddenly grasp how to pedal his bike independently after a bit of instruction and some expert bike fettling and then spending the rest of the event riding it round and round and round and round the bandstand even though the bike itself weighed more than my touring bike AND panniers put together and must have been made out of scaffolding poles.

bike fettling

Lucky the Park Tools stand is very sturdy

And it’s in-depth conversations over the pros and cons of child seats and trailers and tagalongs and tandems to enable people to cycle with their kids even though we’re not quite the Netherlands (yet)

bike trailer

And it’s the tentative smile on a baby’s face as she is cycled along by her mum for the first time in a child seat.

And it’s the sun coming out after all, forecast or no forecast.

monster bike

And everyone having a go on the Monster Bike because who doesn’t want to ride a bike that makes everyone else smile and wave when they see it?

There’s some who would argue that events like this don’t do much to further the cause of cycling because they don’t really do much to help build the sort of cycling infrastructure that makes cycling possible for families without elaborate efforts to encourage them. And they’re probably right. But they do add to the sum total of human happiness, and that’s got to be a good thing, right?


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