Below is an article I’ve written for Huff. Sure this saves you going out and buying it, if you were only going to read this article, but there is a lot more in Huff for the average cyclist than just what I have to say.
Christmas is fast approaching, and that means one thing. No, not that, or that, and definitely not that! No, it means lots of kids the world over will wake up on December 25, and see a shiny new bicycle under the tree from Santa.
Now of course the world would be a better place if Santa (and all his helpers) built more recumbents, but that’s another issue. Instead, what I’d like you all to do, is take a moment to think about what all these new bikes mean. Yes, new bikes, mean new bike riders, filled with all the excitement and joy owning a new bike offers.
But just think for a moment about everything else that happens on Christmas day. Now I’m not getting on my moral high horse here and judging anyone, but if the average Christmas day out there is anything like those I grew up with, it’s a lot of alcohol, a lot of food, a lot of fights, and a lot of endless talking about anything and everything. The adults basically let the kids fill up on red cordial, lollies and an oversupply of new stuff. The adults are too busy to concentrate on the kids, and after all, with all the new stuff, the kids can look after themselves. Mmmm, shiny new bike.
Can you see where I am going here?
The average first time rider really has no idea of how to ride a bike. When that first time rider is a young kid filled with excitement, the last thing on their mind is road laws, other traffic, or least of all where the brakes are. After all, once you get going (sometimes with the help of training wheels) why would you want to stop? Add in the peer pressure of other kids on their bikes, and you just want to ride and ride and ride and…….. OH NO, CAR!!!!!!!
I’m not about to lecture you in how you spend your Christmas day, or the way you raise your kids. But as a member of the cycling community, all I ask is you think about two things this Christmas.
- If you are driving somewhere, slow down just that little bit. Sure you might get to where you are going three minutes later, but it’s not like you are in a rush to go boil an egg somewhere. Be mindful that any child you see on a bike, might be riding for the very first time, or they are so proud of their new bike, that’s all they are thinking about. Work on a theory that they have no idea you are there, so be just that little more careful when you drive.
- If you are the parent of a child, who gets a new bike for Christmas. Don’t just give them the bike and then get on with things. Take a bit of time to teach them the basics of riding, and about traffic. Sure it may take an hour out of your Christmas day, but it’s better than waiting for them in a hospital, or worse.
Sure there is only so much you can do, and at the end of the day, you can only do so much. I’m not asking anyone to go out of their way to be “Super Cyclist”, keeping the streets safe of scraped knees. All I’m asking is you don’t make it a Christmas you’ll never forget.