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branflakes
05-16-2013, 09:02 PM
warning - it's a tad long. but there is a point...

i've been reminiscing a bit lately about my childhood, more particularly how my bike(s) played an important role.

i remember learning how to ride without training wheels. i must have been 5ish. my dad had been helping me over the course of a couple of weekends and i was showing some promise. he had a buddy over the house and prodded me to show off my newfound skills. i leapt at the opportunity, and proceeded to plant my face in some concrete. not to be phased, i wiped myself clean (of dirt and tears) after a few minutes, and demonstrated an improved, upright technique.

i remember receiving my first 'real', non-training wheel bike. it was a family birthday (which meant all extended family having a reason to bbq and drink beer all day). there was a bike chained to a picnic table in the distance all the time that i hardly paid any attention to. when the time came and i learned it was mine, i raced across the field and rode it back....and forth....and around.

i remember getting grounded for (spray) painting my bike with a friend in 5th grade. this was an unauthorized artistic endeavor and i was grounded not just from my bike, but also from going to the skating rink on friday night. DOUBLE WHAMMY!

what else i remember about 5th grade was actually riding my bike to school. i rode about 2mi each way, pretty much everyday it wasn't terrible weather (i lived in austin, tx at the time so weather wasn't terrible very often).

which brings me to my real point......i drive my kids ~8mi to school everyday. i drop them off, i pick them up. i would love to live close enough to walk them, but school selection being what it is.....well.....is what it is. certainly i am not the only one who commutes the kids to school, but i don't believe i am the overwhelming majority.

for months i observed the school had a bike rack in front. i never paid much attention to what filled those racks, or rather didn't. recently. however, i've noticed 1, yes one, bike hitched to the rack on a routine basis. it's a generic retail mongoose, which of course is too big for the child, but it's a bike nonetheless.

and so i recall my time biking in the 5th grade. if i was close on time, or even running a tad late, i often couldn't even secure a spot on the rack without moving someone else's slightly (or perhaps heavily ;)). i'm not talking a rack of five spaces, i'm talking about probably 15-25 bikes regularly. i don't recall if my bike was poorly sized at the time, though i imagine it probably was as my parents aren't real 'bike people'.

the fact i could ride my bike back and forth was tremendously liberating. not only did i ride my bike, but i also was a member of the 'safety patrol', so i often had to be there early (thus securing a good spot on the rack). 5th grade is also the first time (i think) that they use to do the presidential fitness test and award(s). i remember being very average at the initial testing near the beginning of the year. riding 5+mi. per day (i often rode a more scenic path home, which may have included hanging out at friends' houses) as a 10 year old significantly improved my overall fitness. by the end of year testing, i had gone from very middle of the pack, to better than 90% of the rest of America, and even earned an award. NOT one of those 'participation' awards either. like a real award for actually accomplishing something.

so, i know what your saying now.....'great story, but where are you going with all this?'.....

well, i'm as guilty now as anyone in shuttling the kids around in the name of safety. i say guilty, but this is a crazy time we live in. of course i wouldn't want my kids to ride 8mi. each way in traffic to get to school, but i also would like to find some way for them to be responsible someday; both personally and environmentally.

my kids do have a healthy view of the world. of course they are still very insulated and naive, but they're all under 7 still. they respect the environment, themselves, and others. the oldest 2 are avid riders, and the 4 year old is making strides.

none are ready yet, but i think 5th grade was a significant growth experience for me. i would like to prepare, and find a way to maybe allow them some of the same potential. 4th grade and younger seems too young, and 6th grade, especially 7th grade, they start becoming 'too cool' for such abstract thought.

i know they're going to be great people someday, and i also know they're going to have some trials. i guess i am looking to understand how they can be allowed to grow in the same way(s) i did from ~8-12 years of age in today's environment. i was off the bike for many years off and on, but i always have those wonderful images as a kid in my head. my kids love riding, so that is on my side. i just want to help them take advantage of their opportunities, while also assuring their security.

in summary, i believe i'm one of the few that actually care about the role of bikes as an implement to development of the individual. no, my parents weren't home all day, but i wasn't locked in the house with tv and video games to babysit me either. i had my bike. i had my freedom. i made good use of both. i'm worried we're losing some generations, and i want to ensure my kids don't get swept by the undertow.

thanks for reading. sorry for the length!

Bikerist
05-17-2013, 06:01 AM
My son's High School removed all bike racks and strongly discourages cycling to school.

On the flip side, all those fat kids do make for a good football team.

rugbysecondrow
05-17-2013, 07:40 AM
I grew up in a small town of 2600, walked or biked to school everyday until I could hitch a ride in highscool. Biked or walked my paper route for 2-3 years, about 5 miles total each morning. We had a 16" diameter bell that my Dad would ring. Growing up, if I was too far from home to hear the bell, I was in trouble. Anywhere within that range, it was all good. I rode or ran everywhere growing up. A bike was so integral to what we did that it wasn't even something special, it was like putting on shoes in the morning. Times have changed. Kids there no longer ride or walk to school, parents or buses pick them up. Schools, parks and libraries are developed with no sidewalk access. There is a crosswalk which aids crossing a major street, but then just dumps you off into oncoming traffic (craziness). I live 700 miles from there now, so my opinions on the matter fall on deaf ears. I complained to a couple school board members and the answer I got was: We get funding for buses but we don't get funding for sidewalks, so we just bus all the kids.

Now where I live, we are a walking/biking neighborhood for Junior High and High School. The elementary school is about 2 miles away. I love it. It is amazing how much a daily walk can do for you. When I go to work, I probably walk a little over a mile before I even sit at my desk just because public transportation. Even if I don't run, cycle, go to the gym or anything else, I walk about 2 miles extra a day just going to and from work.

My daughter is now a first grader. As a kindergartener, she lacked the skills to bike to school, so we would walk. Show her how the traffic signals worked, waiting for traffic, stopping at crosswalks etc. In addition, we would talk about things, but mostly I would just listen to her. It is amazing the stuff kids talkabout if you give them an ear and some time. In one breath she would be rattling off after school snacks she desired, then in the next talking about how a friends father died and then asking me if I was going to die, then about my father, then about his parents. The walk facilitated all of this.

Fast forward to this year, my little girl likes to ride to school and luckily I can facilitate that as well. I work from home some now so on those days, we often ride to school, then I will bike up there at 3:15 to get her. She is old enough to appreciate me, young enough to still be proud that I am there to get her...not sure how long this phase will last but it sure warms my heart.

Now my little girl, wants to learn to skateboard. I am no skateboarder, never have been, but I think I have to learn just to keep up with her and spend time with her. Funny enough, on deck was a new bike for her birthday, but after riding a couple longboards at the bike shop the other day, she decided she would rather keep her bike another year (or get a used one) and get a new skateboard instead. Who knows, maybe first day of 2nd grade, she and I will be longboarding to school. :)

Good Times.

Edit: My daughter loves riding her bike, but she also loves skidding to stops. Attached is a photo of the hole she burned in her tires playing outside the other night. She was booking it, trying to see how long she could skid for. Again, good times!

Nooch
05-17-2013, 07:58 AM
I grew up in a small town of 2600, walked or biked to school everyday until I could hitch a ride in highscool. Biked or walked my paper route for 2-3 years, about 5 miles total each morning. We had a 16" diameter bell that my Dad would ring. Growing up, if I was too far from home to hear the bell, I was in trouble. Anywhere within that range, it was all good. I rode or ran everywhere growing up. A bike was so integral to what we did that it wasn't even something special, it was like putting on shoes in the morning. Times have changed. Kids there no longer ride or walk to school, parents or buses pick them up. Schools, parks and libraries are developed with no sidewalk access. There is a crosswalk which aids crossing a major street, but then just dumps you off into oncoming traffic (craziness). I live 700 miles from there now, so my opinions on the matter fall on deaf ears. I complained to a couple school board members and the answer I got was: We get funding for buses but we don't get funding for sidewalks, so we just bus all the kids.

Now where I live, we are a walking/biking neighborhood for Junior High and High School. The elementary school is about 2 miles away. I love it. It is amazing how much a daily walk can do for you. When I go to work, I probably walk a little over a mile before I even sit at my desk just because public transportation. Even if I don't run, cycle, go to the gym or anything else, I walk about 2 miles extra a day just going to and from work.

My daughter is now a first grader. As a kindergartener, she lacked the skills to bike to school, so we would walk. Show her how the traffic signals worked, waiting for traffic, stopping at crosswalks etc. In addition, we would talk about things, but mostly I would just listen to her. It is amazing the stuff kids talkabout if you give them an ear and some time. In one breath she would be rattling off after school snacks she desired, then in the next talking about how a friends father died and then asking me if I was going to die, then about my father, then about his parents. The walk facilitated all of this.

Fast forward to this year, my little girl likes to ride to school and luckily I can facilitate that as well. I work from home some now so on those days, we often ride to school, then I will bike up there at 3:15 to get her. She is old enough to appreciate me, young enough to still be proud that I am there to get her...not sure how long this phase will last but it sure warms my heart.

Now my little girl, wants to learn to skateboard. I am no skateboarder, never have been, but I think I have to learn just to keep up with her and spend time with her. Funny enough, on deck was a new bike for her birthday, but after riding a couple longboards at the bike shop the other day, she decided she would rather keep her bike another year (or get a used one) and get a new skateboard instead. Who knows, maybe first day of 2nd grade, she and I will be longboarding to school. :)

Good Times.

Can Kelly work with wood, Paul? :)

This is all great, and stuff that I think of as my wife and I are starting to look for homes.

I've been reflecting back as well to my childhood recently (I guess watching your 7-month old figure out she can stand all by herself makes you flashback) and how bikes weren't a part of my life hardly at all as a kid. I had bikes -- I remember them fondly, I remember getting each one -- but I don't remember riding too much.

I'd ride down the street to Dave's house in elementary and middle school. Dave moved, and then it was up the street to Nick's house. Nick had a stumpjumper with front suspension, I was still making due on a 24" schwinn thrasher, and I used to chase him around in the woods by our houses.

But that's it.. my parents didn't ride, they didn't do a good job of teaching my sister how to ride (she was a clarinetist, anyhow, so they focused all their energy on that). I was never encouraged to ride anywhere -- in fact it was years before I could leave the driveway, even though we didn't live in a busy neighborhood.

Now, in my current location, I see the kids riding to school all the time. Tons of em, on their bmx bikes, rolling down the streets with their backpacks. But a few towns over, they're few and far between. I would do anything to stay in my town (if I could only afford to!) to allow my daughter the same freedoms that I never had the opportunity to embrace..

I can't wait to get her on a balance bike..

mktng
05-17-2013, 08:42 AM
http://i.imgur.com/GFvpU7c.jpg

branflakes
05-17-2013, 08:50 AM
mktng - did you have to scan that in from an old polaroid? :)

Gummee
05-17-2013, 08:51 AM
well, i'm as guilty now as anyone in shuttling the kids around in the name of safety. i say guilty, but this is a crazy time we live in. of course i wouldn't want my kids to ride 8mi. each way in traffic to get to school, but i also would like to find some way for them to be responsible someday; both personally and environmentally.FWI've seen, crimes against kids are down

From Crimes Against Children Research Center
(based on U.S. Dept. of Justice numbers):
Crime has been going down since the 1990s:

All U.S. homicides: Down 40% 1992 -2005.
Juvenile homicide: Down 36% 1993 2005 (kids under age 14)
Juvenile homicide: Down 60% 1993 2005 (age 14 17)
Forcible rape: Down 28% 1992 2006
Sex Abuse Substantiations of Children, 1990 2005: Down 51%
Physical Abuse Substantiations of Children, 1990 2005: Down 46%
Juvenile Sex victimization trends, 1993 2003: Down 79%

The only thing going up is the 24/7 coverage on the 'news' of anything remotely frightening/dangerous/etc. Unfortunately, constant repetition = the perception of reality.

So... if your kids are old enough to be safe on the streets and the streets are safe enough, go for it!

M

mktng
05-17-2013, 08:56 AM
mktng - did you have to scan that in from an old polaroid? :)

ahaha. it so happened that I came across this picture on reddit as I was also reading these posts.

101% appropriate for this thread.