Kenilworth youngsters suffer abuse after cycling through Abbey Fields as part of Cycle Bus scheme

Cycle bus group on their way to St Augustines School in Kenilworth
Cycle bus group on their way to St Augustines School in Kenilworth

The Kenilworth Cycle Bus group are seeking an exemption to the rule banning cycling in Abbey Fields after members of the group, including several 5 year olds suffered abuse as they cycled through the Abbey Fields park.

In wake of the abuse supporters for the recently launched Kenilworth Cycle Bus group have asked the leader of the Warwick District Council for an exemption from the existing by-law for every Friday during term time.

People can also make their views known about cycling in Abbey Fields at a Warwick District Council consultation.

Adam Tranter, who founded the cycle bus with his wife, Aurélie, said: “Unfortunately, on Friday morning (November 22) we were verbally abused by another park user.

"This person took issue with our cycling in the park without being able to see the positive we're doing. When we asked 'Do you think it would be safe to take children on the roads outside?', they said 'I don't care'.”

The cycle bus members who suffered the verbal abuse from a pedestrian included eight people with several 5 year olds among them.

Adam Tranter, added: "At the time it ruined our day but we're not going to let it get us down in the long-term. Since the confrontation, we've been flooded with support by the community and had well-wishing messages from all over the world, even as far as Australia."

The cycle bus initiative was launched in Kenilworth last month, and happens each Friday when lead cyclists pick up children along the way and the group of about 30 cycles to school together.

The Kenilworth-based parents started by cycling their 5-year-old twin boys to St Augustine’s School using an electric cargo bike. Soon other parents asked them how they could get involved in cycling to school.

Adam added: “We've had incredible support from local town councillors too, especially Andrew Milton and Rob Barry from the Kenilworth Cycling Strategy Group.

"Cllr Milton has written to the leader of Warwick District Council to ask for an exemption for us from the existing by-law every Friday during term time, and we've had good initial feedback from WDC representatives on this. We really hope common sense prevails."

Adam added: "We are a volunteer and parent-led group who help young children cycle to school safely.

"These by-laws are stopping children and other vulnerable road users from cycling safely. There is no other alternative route for anybody who needs to get from one side of town to the other.

"We have to take action now. Some 81 per cent of children are driven to our school each morning and we have to ask ourselves why that is, and what we're doing about it.

“We are aware that there is a no cycling by-law in Abbey Fields and made the careful decision to continue to ride there as it’s the only safe option to take young children - the roads nearby are full of buses and just nearby a cyclist was killed two years ago.

“We do this because we believe children have the right to cycle to school and we need to take steps to help the climate and reduce our reliance on cars. Each week we take around 20 cars off the road for the school run.

“The decision for us to use the park came after we personally spent over a week trying to find a safe route.

"We use the shared usage path by Castle Farm which is a similar width with no issues. We brief each week to ensure we give pedestrians priority and go out of our way to say 'good morning'. Of course, these 5 year olds struggle to travel more than 5mph so really there is no confrontation unless somebody chooses for there to be.”

Cllr Milton added: “I was deeply disappointed to hear about the problems experienced by the Cycle Bus last week.

“I understand the sensitivities around cycling in Abbey Fields but I think some perspective is urgently needed here.

"Our town council and district council have both declared climate emergencies this year and in an emergency we need to take action quickly. The initiative that Adam and Aurelie have started along with other parents is exactly the type of thing we need to see more of and it has my full support. I'll do all within my power to make sure that the Cycle Bus can continue safely and unhindered.”