Kids on bikes Pt.2 – Function

As we walked along the esplanade on the cool sometimes cloudy sometimes sunny Sunday, we heard the distant ‘ting ting’ of a bell from behind. It’s a shared path and so we veer to one side of the concrete while continuing to walk on.

‘Ting ting!’ it sounds again. Oh well I think, nothing more to do, there’s plenty of room for a bike to pass. ‘Ting ting’ I hear again. Yes, we know you’re nearing. All okay, there’s plenty of room. ‘Ting ting!’ sounds the bike bell again, close now. So we pause and turn to see a small girl, about six years old, dressed in turquoise jeans and turquoise hoody, topped with a helmet with ears and a stylised mane. As she rolls past on her small bicycle, she ting tings again. I offer a cheery “Thank you”. Not missing a beat, “You’re welcome” she replies.

Riding a bicycle as a kid is fun but it also has some valuable functions in the life of little people.

When I was a child, learning to ride a bike had a practical purpose. It meant I could ride to school. With only one car in the family and with Mum and Dad working the farm and its home, children who could ride bicycles were an asset. For reasons of economy of time and money, riding a bicycle was an important part of family life.

When I started school, it meant I could join in with my brothers and the other kids from the neighbouring farms for the two and a half kilometre ride to school. This had social implications for me. It placed me in the company of other kids. And that meant interacting, finding a place in that group. It meant that we looked out for each other as we rode. Like the day one girl was bitten by a snake and some of us raced for help while others stayed to care for her. Riding to school meant that we competed with each other racing our bicycles on the way home to be first to arrive at the wild guava trees to pick their sun warmed fruit for an afternoon snack.

It also meant independence. I could make my own way. I could travel quite freely, under my own steam. For kids, riding a bicycle is fun and it also serves function: in getting from a to b, learning to socialise and building independence.

For kids, riding a bicycle is fun and it also serves function: in getting from a to b, learning to socialise and building independence.

Independence is what I saw in the turquoise ‘ting ting’ bicycle girl as she rode along. Confident in interacting, comfortable in being on her own. And I saw it too in her younger sister who a minute later rode along on an even smaller bicycle, balancing very well with no need for trainer wheels, stopping to walk her bicycle for a few metres and then when her Dad offered to carry her bike “so you can walk for awhile”, shaking her head and straddling her bicycle with little legs clad in light grey tights topped with a pink tutu, a floral t-shirt and pink quilted vest, once more turning the pedals to ride on, under her own steam.

10 Comments on “Kids on bikes Pt.2 – Function

  1. Gail, I too, relied on my bike for valuable lessons as a child, not the least for the independence it gave me and all the surrounding neighborhood kids. It’s lovely to see the children out and about on bikes of all colours and types – I especially loved your description of the rider! Rider fashions and bikes are a little more elaborate these days than they were decades ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Unfurling. It’s interesting to now see these indirect benefits of being a kid on a bicycle.
      As for fashions… they make me smile… a lot 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s another one I hadn’t thought of. Growing up in a farming area (and a few moons ago), traffic wasn’t really something we had to deal with. It would be quite different for kids in an urban setting negotiating traffic – and a great skill to have too.

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  2. When I was a teenager, riding a bike was the only way to get anywhere. Mum had a rule: if you want to go to the shopping centre or movies or friends places you had to cycle there. It was 15km (30km return) to the nearest shopping centre, cinema and bus stop so we had to want it bad. But boy did my sisters and I learn to ride. And to ride relatively fast because you don’t want to arrive at the movies late. Haha

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    • I think that’s great Andrew. You not only learned to ride – which set you up well for the cycling adventures you’re now doing as an adult – but there were also decisions that you had to make along the way based on how much you valued the excursion. That’s so valuable. Plus the independence of riding to your own clock – and yep getting there on time! 🙂

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  3. I also depended on an old bike or walking to get me many places as my mother couldn’t drive and my father wanted to save money. Back then I had a rusty old bike that was much too big for me and had no gears but I only remember it being loads of fun and it giving me freedom and independence. I remember the wonderful feeling of wind through my hair as I flew down hills (way too fast probably). My own children were fortunate to spend most of their early years in quiet rural places and they had many adventures on their bikes. I do feel sorry for the kids in my local area who have to share the road which large trucks and cement mixers if they want to ride to school. I hope this changes. It’s often the case of them wanting to ride but not having safe options here. Another great post, Gail. I do love your enthusiasm and positivity. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jane!
      It’s great to read your recollections of riding a bike as a kid. It sounds pretty special and I imagine all those wonderful feelings are still there for you when you ride a bike now. Maybe not when mixing it with the cement trucks 🙂 but maybe freewheeling along a good pathway. I’m sure we’ll see better cycleways as time goes on. As I write about bicycles and connect with people who like bicycles, there is quite a groundswell happening. It’s very encouraging 🙂

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  4. Hello Gail. I am still riding the bike and searching for the guava trees as I cycle and found some.. Love you Bevan.

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    • That’s great Bevan 🙂 I have very fond memories of racing for the guavas. So glad to know there are still some around. Love you too!

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