And of course, getting around on bikes.
I didn’t blog much about Bike to School Month this year (our 3rd year organizing and promoting it at our local elementary). Despite the record-setting rainy and cold month in Seattle, quite a few parents and kids got to school on two wheels in May. Of the 550 or so kids at school, 105 kids participated in Bike to School Month. Not a terrible statistic, but definitely has room for improvement.
Last summer Tim read Pedaling Revolution, by Jeff Mapes. I didn’t get a chance to read the whole thing but I did read Chapter 9: Bringing Kids Back to Bikes.Parents give all sorts of reasons why their kids don’t ride or walk: traffic, fear of abduction, weather, crime.
A few of the stats from the chapter resonated with me:
- In 1969 87 percent of all kids who lived within a mile of school walked or biked….By 2001, only about 15 percent of kids were getting to school under their own power
- A 1999 survey of parents by the CDC found that 55 percent listed distance as the major barrier preventing their child from walking of biking to school That was followed by traffic danger (40 percent). adverse weather (24 percent) and fear of crime (18 percent)
- The odds of a child being abducted are about one in a million, according to Cox News Service story that compared the risks of different activities. The risk of dying playing youth football is one in 78,260
So how do we bring kids back to bikes?
This is a subject that I’m passionate about…I think about it a lot. It’s also a question many people all over the country are asking. And while I have hope that kids will eventually get back to bikes, it’s not going to happen overnight.
Because kids are not the problem. The parents are.
Kids love riding bikes: bikes are fun and they give kids a rare sense of freedom that they just don’t get much these days (kids don’t have a lot of freedom in general).
This wasn’t an issue when I was a kid a long time ago. My sisters and I roamed the one, two, even three-mile radius surrounding our house by the time we were 9 or 10. I remember the feeling of being free and easy on a bike, wind whipping through my hair (pre-helmets), riding no handed and barefoot, slogging back up all the hills after a day at the beach. We went everywhere on bikes.
Kids aren’t left to roam on their own any more. (including mine). If we want to get more kids on bikes, we also need to get more parents on bikes and riding with their kids.
I’m not sure how to motivate and inspire parents to ride. Anytime a parent asks me about biking or tells me they just rode a bike for the first time in (insert a lot of years) I get excited.
Have any ideas about how to inspire more parents to ride?