Sunday, November 13, 2011
The kids and I have had a tradition of going on a "Leaf Ride" - we pick a dry day when the leaves are starting to pile up and we ride around town going through the biggest piles we can find. Sometimes we're biking along up to our knees in leaves, with their dry crackly sound and that autumny smell. It's a fun way to welcome this season of transition, and get out on our bikes while the weather is still beautiful (if a bit colder than the summer months). Encouraging our kids to be cyclists is a big priority for us, and making it fun with an outing (which ended up downtown with an impromptu picnic) keeps them enjoying it as a fun activity that only incidentally is great exercise, self-sufficient transportation, and sustainably-fueled to boot!
As a parent, it's all too easy to let fear keep our kids from being as independent as we were when we were their age. Most of us biked or walked all over town, didn't we? In 1972, the year I started 1st grade, nearly 90% of all school kids who lived within a mile of their school walked or biked to school. Now the school drop-off lines are long and filled with the exhaust fumes of idling cars dropping off their kids one at a time. Yet the things parents are most afraid of: kidnappings or violent crimes against children, and pedestrian or bicycle-related accidents, have actually fallen dramatically percentage-wise in the last thirty years. We are simply more afraid of them, even though we have less reason to be. And sadly, 50% of the children hit by cars near schools are hit by the parents of other students! Clearly, the more kids that bike and walk and the less that are driven around by harried minivan moms (the most dangerous drivers on the road at 3:00 for sure), the safer our kids will be.
Posted by Robin at 6:39 PM