Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Pink Bike

I talk to youth almost every day about bicycling. I hear about their favorite bike stories, their family members who ride, and their reasons for not being able to bike. We spend a lot of time talking about the reasons they can’t bike; their parents wont let them, they live to far away from school, they don’t have a bike or a helmet. Often times the situations are overwhelming and the kids have already given up hope of ever being able to ride their bikes to school.

We talk about all the reasons to love biking instead of driving. It produces less traffic, less pollution, more exercise, and of course more fun! We talk about predictability, awareness and communication. In the yard, we practice the skills that will keep them safe on the road.

I spend three 1-hour class sessions with each 4th grade class. In our conversations, stories, and fun, I get to experience the unique personalities of the students. After session 1 of my most recently sequence, a student came up to ask what they had missed while they had been away in music class. He expressed great excitement about the rumors he has heard from classmates claiming we would be riding bikes in the yard. I confirmed the rumor and encouraged the student to ride his bike to school on the day of our big road-eo. The mood shifted, and like most situations, provided a reason why he couldn’t ride. He admitted to owning a pink bike and being too shy to ride it to school. I assured him that the color of the bike did not matter, and that it was the fact that he was able to ride to school that made the experience awesome!

After our third session, where we rode bikes in the yard, we practiced; riding in a straight line (so we are predictable), riding with on hand (so we can communicate our turns and stopping), and looking over our left shoulder (so we can be aware of what is around us), I surprised the small class with the special treat of keeping the helmets we had given them for the day. The class was overjoyed, and I walked away hoping it would mean at least one kid would be able to ride to school more safely.

Well not only was my dream correct, but I was able to see it with my own eyes! Two days later, as I was riding past the school on my way from another class, I was stopped at a red light. Just over the car next to me I could see the top of a familiar red helmet on a cyclist on the sidewalk. It was pouring rain and school had just let out. In head to tow rain gear, I saw the same student who had complain about a “feminine” bike, stand up to pump this infamous pink bike across the street!

1 comment:

  1. I love you even more. So proud to know you! xo