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.