Dawn Rahman

Supervisors: Rachel Aldred, Tom Cohen, Ersilia Verlinghieri

Mad or Magnificent? Mothers who cycle with their children in the UK

While much research has been undertaken on gender and mobility, there is currently limited literature on motherhood and mobility, despite acknowledgment that the presence of children affects how mothers travel. Even less is known about mothers who cycle with their young children in the UK for utility journeys, the type of experiences they have and the barriers they encounter.

The low numbers of mothers cycling with their children in the UK, as evidenced by the National Travel Surveys (carried out each year) paints a somewhat bleak view. However, anecdotal evidence from social media appears to show a growing number of mothers in the UK cycling with their children for utility journeys. This is supported by an increase in membership of online groups, websites and blogs related to cycling with children. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted levels of cycling must also be considered.

Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, my research aims to understand the experiences of mothers in the UK cycling with children under the age of 11 for utility journeys. Exploring the experiences of mothers that currently cycle with children will help gain an understanding of how they are navigating the various barriers often cited as reasons not to cycle. A particular gap in existing research includes an understanding of the differences between bicycle configurations and the various issues mothers face when using either: 1) ‘child carrying bicycles’ such as cargo bikes; child bike seats or trailers added to an adult bicycle; and 2) ‘independent cycling’, where mothers and children cycle together but each person rides their own bicycle. There are also gaps in research relating to how geographical location impacts the ability to cycle with children, and so the research will look at the differences between cities, large and small towns, and rural areas.