How cycling becomes safer for children – SWR Aktuell

Children on bicycles are particularly vulnerable in road traffic. The action alliance ‘Kidical Mass’ from Mannheim therefore calls in the SWR interview: 30 km/h the city.

“Kidical Mass” is a nationwide action alliance that works to ensure that children can cycle safely and independently in cities. SWR Aktuell moderator Christian Rönspies spoke with Kristina Schaum from the Mannheim “Kidical Mass” group.

SWR Aktuell: What is the most dangerous situation you have experienced as a cyclist with a child?

Kristina foam: It’s when drivers just carelessly make turns so that you just get overlooked. But it’s really bad when you overtake. It starts with insufficient side spacing. Then children and adults get into trouble very quickly.

Kristina Schaum from “Kidical Mass” Mannheim


SWR Aktuell: And the problem is usually that the children are forced onto the street when they cycle.

Foam: Exactly. This is really the biggest problem when there is no safe, separated bike lane. The so-called protective strips are not an alternative either. They are too narrow and motorists pass cyclists with too little clearance. I don’t know if they then think: there is a magic wall that somehow goes up because a line is drawn on the floor. As soon as you have to move on the road as a cyclist, and in any case as a child, it is dangerous.

SWR Aktuelle: How could it be mitigated? Presumably only on clearly separated cycle paths?

Foam: It’s definitely a possibility. But what is a very important factor is slowing down. Kidical Mass advocates a 30 km/h limit in urban areas. First of all, if you drive slower, you don’t have time pressure because you don’t expect to drive as fast. And secondly, you can simply react much better to situations, for example in terms of braking distance. The slower you drive yourself, the easier it is to pay attention to others.

SWR Aktuell: You mentioned the distance that drivers often do not keep. It now costs 80 euros and one point in Flensburg if you do not pass a cyclist at least 1.50 meters away. Isn’t that great progress?

Foam: Well, how often is it actually punished? The moment you get into trouble as a cyclist, you cannot react so quickly. Also, most of the time you don’t have witnesses to report it. It is therefore a good step that this problem is being noticed at all. Another point is parking on the cycle path. If this is not punished, nothing will change.
Personally, I think the penalties should be more draconian – similar to those in the Netherlands. If you get caught there once, you won’t do it again because it’s just too expensive.

SWR Aktuell: How would you describe the situation for children cycling in road traffic in general?


More safety for children on the road - this is what the nearly 100 children and adults who participated in the alliance's action days on Sunday afternoon called for.

More safety for children on the road – that was the demand of almost 100 children and adults who cycled through Karlsruhe on Sunday afternoon as part of the action days of the “Kidical Mass” alliance.

Foam: I really think the biggest problem is that kids don’t have the big picture yet. They are not yet able to exercise the foresight of adults and be aware of other people’s mistakes.
When I’m on the road, I know a car door could open in front of me. I ask myself: is the turning driver really looking at me? I have everything in view. Children can’t do that because their perception isn’t quite there yet.

SWR Aktuell: Kidical Mass says that if you want a turnaround in traffic and mobility, you must start with the children. How should we imagine it?

Foam: When I had the experience as a child that I could move safely on a bicycle, I laid the foundation for my whole life, because I experienced this form of mobility positively. And then I want to cycle more as an adult.
I am personally a very good example of that, because as a child I did almost everything on my bike. And now the bike is simply number one for me.
In addition, you save a lot of money, because it is much cheaper to cycle than to take the car. And I’m still doing something for the climate because I’ve decided to think outside of this tin box.

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