James tells us the joys of cycling as a family
James lives in Rodley with his partner, Emma and two daughters, Annie who’s three and Penny, who’s ten months old. The couple had a passion for cycling before having children and have now passed this on to Annie who likes nothing more than going for a family cycle. We talked to James on his local stretch of canal as he told us all about where they like to cycle together and the many great benefits it’s given them all.
Why did you want Annie to learn to cycle?
I wanted to encourage Annie to ride a bike at such a young age because of all the benefits. It gave her something to focus on other than playing in the living room or being on a tablet. With all the many benefits of being outside, I thought it would be really beneficial for her and it meant we would be able to all go out as a family. When we're all riding, she has a massive beam on her face. She loves us all being able to go out together.
How often do you go cycling together?
We cycle as often as we can. We try and use the car as little as possible. Whenever we get the opportunity and it's nice weather, then we'll all go and enjoy cycling as a family.
Where do you cycle as a family?
This is our local stretch of canal. We use this quite a lot. It's nice and quiet and no fast traffic or fast cyclists around. When we can, we will go out cycling together as a family on a weekend. We cycle from the doorstep to the shops and to the cafes using the towpath and the quiet segregated cycle paths.
We also have trips out. We've been to Leeds Urban Bike Park and had a play around the pump track there. We've also been up into Otley Chevin for a ride to experience riding through the forest.
We used to go to nursery with her in the cycle carrier. Now she's a bit too old for that, but still too young to cycle on the road. We do go as far as we can and then we meet her with the bike. Her little face lights up when she gets the opportunity to ride her bike back home with mummy and daddy.
When we can, we will go out cycling together as a family on a weekend. We cycle from the doorstep to the shops and to the cafes using the towpath and the quiet segregated cycle paths.
What have been the benefits of cycling as a family?
As well as the health benefits there is being outdoors as there's so much nature and wildlife around here. Annie and Penny, the smallest one, absolutely love seeing the ducks, the horses at the side of the road and the dogs. We often use it as a little nature trip. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times Annie stops to look at bugs and worms!
She absolutely loves it. It's an excuse to be outside without them realizing it. We all enjoy the fresh air, the headspace, the exercise and the views. Plus, we’re getting from A to B with it costing as little as possible. It’s a win, win really.
So, you’d agree cycling has been a positive experience?
Cycling has had a positive impact on our family because we all love cycling. Me and Emma were keen cyclists and would go off mountain biking together before we had kids. The fact that we've been able to introduce our children to it as well and we get so much enthusiasm from them at such a young age means that it's something we can keep doing as a family and continue to reap the benefits.
Would you recommend cycling?
It's such a good thing for others to partake in from a health point of view. And from a cost point of view, I don't think it really costs that much to get a bike nowadays. There are so many good schemes out there to help you to get a second-hand bike.
The benefits of being able to commute on a bike are great. There are a lots more segregated cycle paths now which allow you to cycle a lot safer than you used to be able to. And then there are the health benefits - you're exercising without realizing it.
There’s also the enjoyment of getting out into the countryside, using the towpaths, and seeing nature. It's great. Go for it. Don't be afraid of cycling and learning to cycle. It's easier than it looks.
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