The North American bias is that children do not cycle to commute. They may ride a bike for fun, for “exercise”, for sport, but not to get to school, swimming lessons, or the like. And definitely not alone. And not in winter.
As parents, we tell children to “be themselves”, “be their own person”, “carve their own path”. The Zen koan, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you follow?” has been posed more than once.
Don’t be a follower. Don’t be sheeple.
On one hand, it is the essence of youth to rebel; yet on the other hand, it can be tiring to “swim upstream” all the time while growing up, carving one’s own path; some times, it’s nice to know that there are others out there who have got your back and who are on the same page as you.
When normalizing behaviour is beneficial
As a parent, I want my kids to connect with others who do what they do: bike and walk. I want them to not feel weird or different every day they arrive at school. They don’t need that stress. And, they also don’t need the unnecessary and harried drivers buzzing around the drop-off and pick-up zones at their schools, making their commutes less safe.
Kids of North America! Let it be known that other kids around the world bike to school, too! In fact, it is quite normal.
Kids are on bikes around the world. In all sorts of weather. All ages. And not just for “fun” or “exercise” — while those can also be true. Here is your evidence:
And, this one is a little different but references the power of the bicycle to enable self-discovery and confidence:
Kids –– I hope that you feel comforted by the fact that thousands of other youth around the world are doing what you do. You are not alone. Be the change on your home turf. Recruit your friends. You got this.
Parents –– Use this post to either:
- comfort yourself that riding a bike to school is not as dangerous as you think (and know that statistically-speaking, putting kids in cars in one of the most dangerous things you can do with them),
- motivate your child and help them feel less different (if that’s hindering them from cycling to school, for example),
- stimulate you to write a letter to your local politician supporting best practice infrastructure facilitating active transportation, or
- start applying for jobs and visas in countries that embrace the lifestyle you want! *joke*
PS I would be delighted to add more images and videos to this post. If you have recommendations, please share below (with credit to the owner of the content). If it’s your content and you share it, I will assume that gives me permission to include in this piece. Cheers!