With a head full of fresh memories from 2013, there is one that makes me smile and shines brighter than the rest. My daughter learnt to ride a bike! She is 5 and Santa gave her the bike for Christmas 2012. That was a really exciting Christmas- a bike is one of the best presents ever- actually, anything with wheels is a cool present- I don’t want to exclude the scooter!
This year was also my daughter’s first year of Prep. We live in urban Melbourne and the school is 2km from our house. We started a group called the WALKING SCOOTING SCHOOL BUS. Not a new concept but it was nice to start one. We have a group of 4 five-year-old girls who are all friends, as are their parents. They would meet on a corner each morning and scoot to school- escorted by their parents. There were a few stacks had by all as they got the hang of the route and soon they were a gang of girls on scooters- just cruising and FLYING down the BIG hill! The idea is that eventually the parents can share the job of being escorts and only one parent will be required etc.
Later in the year everyone graduated to riding their bikes to school.
They were already familiar with most of the road safety rules from riding their scooters- but there were more things to learn and get the hang of. Speaking for myself as a parent, this is also a time of various emotions for me, like anxiety, worry, impatience, elation and enjoyment. There was also a week of ‘extreme out of breathiness’ when my husband and I wanted to have our hands free- so we ran alongside her- much slower than a bike flying down a hill! Thankfully, it was only for a week and then we felt comfortable with riding alongside her.
Why do I bore you with all the details of getting our kid to ride to school?
Well, I read some stats recently showing that the number of kids on bikes nationally has decreased over the past two years. It’s a concern as obesity in children is rising although bike infrastructure is increasing- read more here.
There has been plenty of talk in recent years about the rise of children getting to school in the family car as opposed to walking. Parents are busy and time poor and as a nation we are moving less. Even with our family living in such close proximity to our school, we think about 50% of kids at our school get there by walking or riding. You’d think it would be more considering kids living in rural parts of Australia have no option but to go in the car or school bus. In 2014 I’d love to encourage more kids and parents to take the bike to school in conjunction with Ride2School.
It was a highlight of my year and sometimes the best 15 minutes of my day to be honest. Riding bikes is fun for people of all ages and these holidays, I’m looking forward to some rides with my daughter just for the fun of it. I also love that she is living such an active life- this will be her version of ‘normal’ once she grows up.
How do your kids get to school? Are there adequate bike paths where you live? Do you think the car is safer? Did anyone get a bike for Christmas?