Wheel full 70pxIf you had asked me what was the most common shared experience had by young people in the United States (after finding out the bad news about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, I suppose) I would have immediately spoken up, “Learning to ride a bicycle.”  When I was growing up in the Chicago ‘burbs in the 1950s and 60s, every kid over the age of, say five or six had a bike.  When I’d go visit my grandparents or family friends, every kid I’d meet there had a bicycle.  Even the rural kids in Southern Indiana where my maternal grandparents owned a farm all had bikes.  Getting your first 24 or 26 inch bike was the nation’s equivalent of a coming of age ritual.  But apparently no longer.

Inconceivable 800px

Wheel full 70pxA recent survey undertaken by YouGov and reported by FiveThirtyEight here [linkie] confirmed what I had already believed to be true- that a little over half the country isn’t currently riding a bike.  I can see that- up ’til a month or so ago I hadn’t been on a bicycle in a decade.  But I was shocked to learn that almost 10 percent of young people nowadays have never learned to ride a bicycle at all.  That’s three times as many as the cohort that includes me and my generation.  I almost can’t comprehend being a kid and not having a bike to ride.  Is it because of the decline of “free range” parenting?  The ubiquitous availability of video games and other non-active entertainment?  The growing racial and ethnic diversity of the USA?

Wheel full 70pxWhatever it is, I think it’s a damn shame.

David Edgren

4 thoughts on “Inconceivable!!

  1. Doesn’t surprise me a bit, the people who are raising their kids are either to busy at work they haven’t a clue what they kid id doing or not doing or they are terrified of every bump and scrape. What a dreadful time to be growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Safety culture is probably the main culprit, followed by the tendency of some kids to do almost nothing that doesn’t involve a microprocessor. One of my kids basically refused to really learn to ride a bike, in favor of a razor scooter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We tried teaching both my kids to ride, though the one has absolutely no sense of balance, perhaps related to her severe scoliosis. But even in the condo complex we lived in for years, I was leary of letting them ride because of the large number of drivers who would roar past the house waaaay over the 10mph speed limit. I didn’t even dare let them walk to the local mini mart until they were over 10 because there were no sidewalks and people drive like bats out of hell.

    My youngest is learning to drive right now, and after a month of chauffeuring me all over I think it fair to say she’s already a much better driver than the majority of other folks out there, including those who have had their licenses for years. If I can barely trust those other idiots to not take out a bright green, extremely visible car, (twice in the last week alone eejits have turned on a red light in front of my car, missing by only a few feet) I don’t want anyone on a bike, especially my children, anywhere near them. I know that if I was still physically able to ride a bike I wouldn’t be, at least not around here.


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