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“The kid can cycle, but can the driver drive?”: Parents demand safer cycling infrastructure as video shows 5-year-old having to navigate traffic and blocked bike lane

The mother cited safety as one of the key reasons why most parents are put off by letting their children ride bicycles, and demanded proper, segregated infrastructure

A video of a five-year-old boy, picking his way through the traffic safely on a single-lane road full of cars in all four directions, has gone viral on social media, with many people pointing out that despite the kid’s brilliant riding skills, poor cycling infrastructure could be putting off less confident riders of all ages in the UK. 

Francesca Savage was making her way back home to Haringey in north London after a trip to Finsbury Park, with her husband and her son, but they were met with a cycle lane which was out of its “operating hours”. Naturally, this meant it was full of parked cars and slow-moving traffic, with occupants of the vehicles seemingly desperate to get in front of the three cyclists.

There’s barely any space in between the parked cars, where the cycle lane should have been, with drivers in moving vehicles presumably waiting at a signal. As the child makes his way past the standing traffic, the cars start moving, with a black BMW driver swerving to get in front and past him even when he’s alongside the front wheel of the car.

However, that doesn’t put him off, as he continues to make his way forward, sticking to his lane, not wobbling under intimidation, and even positioning himself slightly more centrally — all while maintaining direct eye contact with the driver.

> "Should not be on the public highway riding a bike": Conservative politician weighs in on viral clip of driver refusing to stop for child

Savage told road.cc that her son had learnt to ride a bike by the time he was just about to turn three, and even did his first solo trip on his own bike from Tottenham into central London when he was three and a half years of age.

She said: “[He’s had] no professional training, other than from his parents — my partner and I. We cycle a lot, it’s our primary mode of transport. So we have been teaching from a young age. One of us is always in front and one behind.

“When I speak to my friends with kids, the primary reason they don’t cycle with their kids is safety. I think driving behaviours affect kids riding as a form of transport as their parents are put off using a bike over the car due to safety.”

> “In the middle of the road!” Motorist berates children cycling “harmlessly home from school” on empty cul-de-sac

She added she sees this sort of congestion regularly, especially at key times of the day such as school pick up and drop off times. “It affects us because if feels less safe when cycling around, I also think it’s a huge deterrent to people who might consider cycling if it were not for the road dangers,” she said.

Cyclists on social media platforms were in awe of the kid, praising him for his mature-beyond-his-years demeanour and handling of the bike. One person said: “The MGIF vibes from the driver here are strong, but the five-year-old holds them back with aplomb by looking back and communicating that he's ahead.”

A councillor from West Berkshire commented: “That is a very confident and Road-aware youngster. Well done to the parents for that superb training. As an adult I would have wobbled & bailed! I agree, I’d love to see a cycle safe infrastructure. With so many financial pressures on most services, it’s going to be tough.”

Others were in praise of the couple’s parenting: “Your son has serious cycling skills & he is only 5, many adults don’t have such road awareness. Outstanding parenting.”

Savage was critical of the fact that on the A10, where the footage was from, the operating hours for the bike lane are Monday to Saturday, from 7am to 7pm.

“Outside of these hours, people can park on the cycling lane. There is no segregation so there is nothing to deter cars parking in the cycling lane outside these house,” she said.

Cycle lane along the A10 in London (Google Maps)

However, there were a few people who thought that the parents were using their child to make a point and putting him in danger.

Savage told road.cc this wasn’t the case, as cycling is their primary mode of transport. “In Haringey less than half of house holds own a car so many people rely on active travel and public transport. The cycling lane parking makes it an unsafe environment for more vulnerable road users and will prevent them from potentially making the switch from their car to a bike,” she said.

> Local activist slams “selfish” parents for allowing their children to cycle on the pavement, and says riding on the road is “safer” for primary school pupils

Last year, a similar video of a motorist driving past a five-year-old cycling within touching distance went viral. As most people called for better infrastructure, two Conservative politicians threw their hat in the ring and argued that the child should not have been cycling on the road in the first place — not much unlike this recent incident, where people asked Savage why she wasn't cycling on the pavement with her chid. 

Other asked if there were any other safer alternatives than using a trunk road like the A10, to which Savage replied: “We avoid main roads as much a possible, using quiet street and cycle paths whenever possible. Sometimes however transversing busier roads, even for short distances, is unavoidable.”

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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35 comments

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peted76 | 11 months ago
8 likes

It seems you can't read Road.cc nowadays without seeing people call each other out for their political leanings. I'm getting very tired with all this virtue signalling. This is not an American website, we should not lower ourselves to this level. All political parties are incompetent or useless at best. Please stop bringing politics into every comments thread, it's getting ridiculous. 

Solution - ban politics or ban the twunts who keep bringing it up in conversation. 

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mark1a replied to peted76 | 11 months ago
2 likes

👏👏👏👏👏 hear hear.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to peted76 | 11 months ago
7 likes

I am fully on board with the notion that identity politics is horribly toxic and needs to be avoided at all costs.

However, I refuse to go so far as to say that all parties are as bad as each other. The current administration is performing so badly, I can't believe there are not better options available... anything will be better. 

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peted76 replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 11 months ago
1 like
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

I am fully on board with the notion that identity politics is horribly toxic and needs to be avoided at all costs.

However, I refuse to go so far as to say that all parties are as bad as each other. The current administration is performing so badly, I can't believe there are not better options available... anything will be better. 

I also hope that we've reached a political nadir and the only way forward is up. 

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eburtthebike replied to peted76 | 11 months ago
10 likes

The reason people discuss politics here is because it's politics that has made the extremely toxic, dangerous road environment that cyclists have to suffer in the UK.  Politics is fundamental to getting cycling popular and mainstream.  Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean that it isn't important, and other people are entitled to their view.

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wtjs replied to eburtthebike | 11 months ago
0 likes

it's politics that has made the extremely toxic, dangerous road environment that cyclists have to suffer in the UK
Whereas I, nobody will be surprised to hear, think it's the police - although it may really be the same thing, if the police have learned from experience to follow what the present government really wants, in order to encourage the hyper-junk press to keep hyping up the anti-cyclist pro-motorist (copyright Rishi Sunak) propaganda

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Hirsute replied to peted76 | 11 months ago
5 likes

You can't ban politics as the current issues are political - ulez, ltn, active travel.
All of these have been news items ( there was even a Brexit one - help !).
What's more of an issue is 2 trolls and PBUs making incendiary posts to bait people using politics as a lever. If the mods would sort that out...

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grOg replied to Hirsute | 11 months ago
1 like

'if only the mods would ban people that disagree with me'..

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Rendel Harris replied to grOg | 11 months ago
6 likes
grOg wrote:

'if only the mods would ban people who have been banned multiple times before for racism, antisemitism, bullying, trolling, lying, libel etc and who deliberately post provocative, unpleasant and vexatious opinions in order to get some sort of reaction to try to bring some sort of validation to their sad empty little lives'

FTFY

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chrisonabike replied to peted76 | 11 months ago
2 likes

Less "the {x}s are all {z}s" - that's just football chanting, fun though it may be to do in company.

Equally "find what people are saying and say whatever is the opposite" gets thin pretty soon (albeit people replying should realise what they're engaged in - at best duffing up a strawman but likely engaged in not entirely consensual textual S&M).

I'd say there are often local political differences here - everyone wants a USP.  However active travel is seen by almost all politicians at regional / national level as of negligable interest to punters, if not an active turn-off.  And at best a "nice to have" for the odd light photo-op.  So it's the first thing to get ditched if money's tight (when is it not?) or the electorate restive (ditto).

With the possible exception of the Greens - with whom it should fit into their "ideology" (anyone else?) - it's more of a race to the bottom.  As we've seen recently because it involves "change" and appears to be "losing things" to some voters these issues appear more like a hot potato that competing factions want to leave some other group holding.

This is all very sad as - as we learn from how mass motoring came to be * and how e.g. The Netherlands started changing direction some "top down" politics is at least as crucial to achieving this kind of change as any "bottom up" movements.

* Interesting article on some of the things catalysing this in the US, a very early adopter.

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quiff | 11 months ago
6 likes
road.cc wrote:

As the child makes his way past the standing traffic, the cars start moving, with a black BMW driver swerving to get in front and past him even when he’s alongside the front wheel of the car.

Obviously this is a pretty grim scene, but I think that's a little unfair on the BMW driver - I took them to be making space to allow the cyclists to filter (if only because they felt their WING MIRROR was in danger).   

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Jakrayan replied to quiff | 11 months ago
1 like

I'd agree with you, I didn't see anything the BMW driver did wrongly, the kid did brilliantly to make eye contact, and the driver hung back as a result. 

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Gimpl | 11 months ago
4 likes

I have mentioned a number of times on here that I don't think infrastructure is enough without other 'incentives' not to drive.

We have a fully segregated infrastructure in Milton Keynes and it is most definietly under utilised. Why is no-one from Road CC doing an article on MK to extol the benefits?

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hawkinspeter replied to Gimpl | 11 months ago
4 likes
Gimpl wrote:

I have mentioned a number of times on here that I don't think infrastructure is enough without other 'incentives' not to drive.

We have a fully segregated infrastructure in Milton Keynes and it is most definietly under utilised. Why is no-one from Road CC doing an article on MK to extol the benefits?

You could always write up a forum post evaluating the MK infrastructure yourself, and hope that one of the writers picks up on it and expands it. Anyhow, I suspect that the cycle lanes are merely some kind of occult sigil used by the MK witches.

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Gimpl replied to hawkinspeter | 11 months ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
Gimpl wrote:

I have mentioned a number of times on here that I don't think infrastructure is enough without other 'incentives' not to drive.

We have a fully segregated infrastructure in Milton Keynes and it is most definietly under utilised. Why is no-one from Road CC doing an article on MK to extol the benefits?

You could always write up a forum post evaluating the MK infrastructure yourself, and hope that one of the writers picks up on it and expands it. Anyhow, I suspect that the cycle lanes are merely some kind of occult sigil used by the MK witches.

You'd be wrong about that too. 

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chrisonabike replied to Gimpl | 11 months ago
7 likes
Gimpl wrote:

I have mentioned a number of times on here that I don't think infrastructure is enough without other 'incentives' not to drive.

We have a fully segregated infrastructure in Milton Keynes and it is most definietly under utilised. Why is no-one from Road CC doing an article on MK to extol the benefits?

You're quite right - although MK got "OK" cycle infra* pretty much its raison d'etre is the brilliant motor infra.  It's a place designed around the car.

So it is no surprise to me that people drive.  Consider - if the existing roads and cycle paths were swapped (with a few suitable adjustments for relative sizes of cars and bikes) would you expect people to drive or cycle?

Luckily not everywhere in the UK is quite so convenient for driving - although most places in the UK have been made pretty convenient.  I guess it's only lucky we *do* have some narrow streets, else we'd be the USA!  Perhaps MK is one of the places which is closest to that "city grid" vison.

As Carlton Reid wrote (about another new town, Stevenage): "where driving is easy, Brits drive".

I'd love to see some more info on this though!

* By older Dutch standards - some would be very good by UK "standards" and most importantly there seems to be an attempt at a network.  I don't mean to bad-mouth the place!  I have not yet cycled there and I'm sure *I'd* find it convenient and use it.  However clearly most people there don't and they certainly find driving more convenient.

My info from:

https://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/they-built-it-and-t...

https://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/wiki/milton-keynes-cycle-network-more...

Apparently new things may be made there: https://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/hundreds-of-new-walking-and-cycling-...

An old man on a bike bloviates while riding about (Alexei Sayle).

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bensynnock replied to Gimpl | 11 months ago
6 likes

Closing almost all roads to through traffic would be a start, as would enforced 20mph limits.

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HoarseMann replied to Gimpl | 11 months ago
1 like

The redway network is ok as long as you're not in a hurry to get anywhere, or want to get about near the central shopping centre. When I was a bit fitter, I compared cycling to the railway station via redway vs. grid roads. Grid roads took me 25mins, redways 40mins. 

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Bungle_52 | 11 months ago
5 likes

1. That's a filter lane not a cycle lane.

2. This demonstrates that you will never have suitable infrastucture everywhere you need to cycle and more emphasis needs to be put on dealing with motorists who do not drive considerately around cyclists. Having said that, in this case I suspect the driver did not see the child as they moved off and did give room as soon as they realised.

3. Some peope have observed that the family could have walked along the pavement for this stretch of road and that is a fair point. The argument then becomes do cyclists have the same right as drivers to make reasonable progress safely on our roads. I would suggest the answer is yes.

By all means build infrastructure to get people on bikes but as you come to rely on your bike as a mode of transport you will need to share the roads with motorists who need to be able to drive in a suitable manner around you. Some, of course, will need to be persuaded that they need to do this and that is the job of the police who, in my opinion, are not doing their bit at the moment.

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chrisonabike replied to Bungle_52 | 11 months ago
1 like

Mostly good points and we could improve enforcement (minimal currently) but:

Bungle_52 wrote:

2. This demonstrates that you will never have suitable infrastucture everywhere you need to cycle ...

Why? I think it just shows we choose car at every opportunity in the UK. As it says - a cycle lane has been taken for parking (if it is, liie you say). But look at the width here - 3 lanes (and not the narrowest ones?) for driving or parking in.

Bungle_52 wrote:

By all means build infrastructure to get people on bikes but as you come to rely on your bike as a mode of transport you will need to share the roads with motorists who need to be able to drive in a suitable manner around you. Some, of course, will need to be persuaded that they need to do this and that is the job of the police who, in my opinion, are not doing their bit at the moment.

Mostly yes but if other countries with more success here are a guide you *only* get sufficient "care" from drivers when cyclists are the norm, not the exception. When they're you, your family... and *that* only occurs where a lot of serious cycle infra is added.

Even then as you say there will be a LOT of sharing and interaction. However look at how and where this occurs in NL. First they design junctions in a radically different way. Second - sharing DOES NOT take place on roads this busy. It is mostly on very quiet *streets* - destinations, or in "LTNs". Places without through traffic. Even then the street is often modified to discourage drivers going fast.

It's hard to envisage this in the UK simply because almost all our "streets" can be (and often are) used as cut-throughs. Our "roads" are also trying to do several things at once - it's a "place" (with stopping and parking), it's a local distributor AND a through route. We've designed for maximum motor permeability as well as high motor capacity.

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Rendel Harris replied to Bungle_52 | 11 months ago
5 likes
Bungle_52 wrote:

1. That's a filter lane not a cycle lane.

? It's a separate lane clearly marked for cyclists, how is that not a cycle lane? Glad to hear of the distinction if there's one I haven't come across.

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bensynnock replied to Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
0 likes

I think they're using the term 'cycle lanes' to refer to a segregated lane, and 'filter lane' to refer to an area of the road separated by paint.

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Bungle_52 replied to Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
5 likes

According to Cycling UK the minimum width for a cycle lane is 1.5m but 2m is preferred, therefore this is not a cycle lane. Cyclists cannot cycle safely on it in free moving taffic, in fact research has shown that motorists actually give cyclists less room if they try to.

It is, however, wide enough to allow a cyclist to safely filter up the inside in stationary traffic so I would call it a filter lane.

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brooksby replied to Bungle_52 | 11 months ago
5 likes
Bungle_52 wrote:

According to Cycling UK the minimum width for a cycle lane is 1.5m but 2m is preferred, therefore this is not a cycle lane. Cyclists cannot cycle safely on it in free moving taffic, in fact research has shown that motorists actually give cyclists less room if they try to.

It is, however, wide enough to allow a cyclist to safely filter up the inside in stationary traffic so I would call it a filter lane.

I think that under the law, your definitions mean almost nothing at all.

I see what you mean, though...

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ktache replied to Bungle_52 | 11 months ago
2 likes

Murder strip...

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Bungle_52 replied to ktache | 11 months ago
2 likes

You are right of course. The reason I think "filter lane" is more helpful is that I suspect if motorists could be made to understand that it is for use by cyclists in stationary traffic and not in free moving traffic they may be a bit more forgiving when we don't use it.

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Andrewbanshee replied to Bungle_52 | 11 months ago
2 likes

1. That's

2. This demonstrates that you will never have suitable infrastucture everywhere you need to cycle
I would argue that we do have the infrastructure for wherever anyone would want to cycle. Unfortunately it is dominated by drivists.

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marmotte27 | 11 months ago
4 likes

Not much of a cycle lane there...

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Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
13 likes

A good illustration of the absurdity of time-limited infra. Many of the roads I cycle on in London have rush-hour only implementation of bus lanes or parking restrictions when out of rush hour they are either just as busy or, when they're clearer, cars are travelling at higher speeds (often in excess of the speed limit) and so become even more dangerous. If a road's dangerous enough to need cyclist protection (even if it's just totally inadequate paint) then it should be 24/7. Funnily enough being hit by a driver at 2pm on a Sunday hurts just as much as if it were 7am on a Monday.

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chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
2 likes

Absolutely.  It may "work" if it's just buses vs. cars - but I suspect "work" here is often "for private car drivers" again though - see e.g. notjustbikes "do your buses get stuck in traffic".

In Edinburgh many bus lanes have parking (out of bus lane hours) explicitly marked in!  Cyclists are of course free to cycle though cars parked there at any time...

In fact buses and bikes really don't mix.  Yes - some folks (including myself sometimes) find they can make use bus lanes.  Good luck to us - like anyone cycling in the UK - but while you can eat soup with a sharp knife if you haven't got a spoon most people aren't going to.  Aside from danger aspects buses and bikes are modes with opposite speed profiles.  At least cars are only expected to stop at traffic lights...

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