I don’t see kids out riding their bikes in my neighborhood. Our home is surrounded by a lot of apartments, commercial buildings, traffic lights and lanes. I love where I live, but it’s not like where I grew up—a few blocks from the school, on a cul de sac, and with brothers who had paper routes. They delivered their papers on their bikes, or in a go cart they had designed to look like an old jalopy. On weekends, all three of us were gone all day to museums, or parks, or playing fields. We knew when to be home—before dinner, before dark, before mom rang that bell on the back porch letting us know we’d better get on home right now or we’d be in big trouble.
When I drive by schools at the end of the day, even in residential neighborhoods, I see lines of mothers in SUV’s picking up their kids in front of the school. I imagine that most of them are being picked up and taken to theater or dance classes, or sports training, or tutoring sessions. There are no kids on bikes.
I heard a report on the radio the other day about child development. The researcher said that children learn best when they are experimenting and discovering. She said that childhood needs to include open space and time, so kids learn to figure things out on their own. This is how they become resilient. The less structure during play time, the better. The speaker lamented how little of that time children have in our society, and how seldom they are allowed to take the normal risks that help them learn and develop. They are scheduled, they are taught to follow directions—they are not out on bikes.
I understand why I don’t see kids on bikes in my neighborhood, but I hope they are still having the time my brothers and I had to learn and grow—all on our own. Do you have bikes in your neighborhood?