Dawn Rahman

Supervisors: Rachel Aldred,Tom Cohen, and Ersilia Verlinghieri

Mad or Magnificent? Mothers who cycle with their children

THIS RESEARCH SET out to understand the practice of mothers cycling with their children (aged 11 and under) in the UK. As part of the research, I carried out several focus groups with women who work in cycling, surveyed approximately 1,300 mothers and conducted 30 in-depth interviews. The mothers taking part in this research were highly motivated to incorporate cycling into their lives but had to be meticulously organised to juggle cycling with other care duties and employment.

The most popular journeys undertaken by bicycle were to education sites such as schools and nurseries, followed by those for shopping and errands, as well as visiting friends and families. Unfortunately, many of the mothers noted certain barriers when cycling, such as bad driving and aggression from other road users. Just under a quarter of mothers surveyed had experienced close passes from drivers, and more than a third had suffered verbal abuse when cycling with their children. Similarly, other issues such as guard rails, A-frames and steps on traffic-free paths often made simple journeys more complicated, particularly for those using non-standard cycles which struggle to fit through such barriers.

However, despite some of these problems, there was an overwhelming sense that cycling with children was deemed a positive and worthwhile activity to undertake. Many of the mothers taking part in the research listed the countless benefits they had found from riding with their children. These included: improved health, both mental and physical; the confidence their children gained from learning the skills to ride a bicycle; plus the sheer joy and fun of cycling together. Moreover, many of the mothers firmly believed cycling with their children allowed them to form emotional bonds and hopefully build lifetime memories.

MORE is a part of Open Studio project run by the School of Architecture + Cities at the University of Westminster to make its design, research and practice-based work available online while it is happening.

University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. Reg no. 977818 England.