our first ride: by Meredith Park – meredithpark.net
You will see lots of content on cycling here @daddinghamont , so I thought I would give you some background on why this is important in my dadding journey. Here it goes!
I was fortunate growing up. I had parents that wanted me to get outside. We lived in a suburban development on a court where my parents felt the dead end was a safe place to play street hockey or ride my bike around. My parents also demonstrated the importance of physical activity. They were both recreational runners and my dad was an avid (mainly recreational) cyclist. I was supplied with bikes as I grew so I always had one that fit. As I grew old enough, I was encouraged to ride my bike when visiting friends in the neighbourhood. My parents used to have me ride my bike along with them when they would go running. I vividly remember the first time I was allowed to ride my bike with my brother to the McDonald’s to buy an ice cream cone. I remember my dad riding his bike to my school with one hand pulling mine so that we could ride home together (I rode a schoolbus most days). I remember riding my bike on my own when I entered jr high because it meant I could sleep longer in the morning than if I took the schoolbus. Bikes started out as toys to me – riding around the court using the curbs as jumps. As I grew older and gained the trust of my parents, my bike began to be my freedom. I didn’t need to rely on them any more to get me around. Once I turned 16 I got my driver’s license. For many, this is the end of cycling as transportation. The fact that my parents encouraged me to ride growing up meant that cycling as transportation was still in my mind as an option. Almost 20 years later it is my first choice when getting around.
This is not the norm for kids today. The way kids are getting to school is increasingly dominated by parents driving them instead of walking, biking, or busing. Parents are afraid of the dangers of kids walking to school. On one hand it’s hard to blame them – the roads in Hamilton have been primarily designed to be used by cars. Our 5 lane Main street through downtown is hardly one pedestrians or cyclists feel safe on. On the other hand, we are trading one danger for another. I don’t have statistics for Canada, but in 2003 there were 113 cyclists killed on roads in the UK (http://cyclinguphill.com/cycle-deaths-casualties-in-the-uk/). In the same year there were 28,016 people killed by cancer and 57,322 by Heart Disease or Stroke caused by inactivity. As our jobs become increasingly sedentary, activity outside the workplace becomes more important.
So this is why I dad by bike:
- The risk of serious injury or death in the act of cycling is there, but it’s there if we are in a car too and the long term risks of being inactive are significantly higher. I want being active to be the norm for our next generation. Starting our son on a bike early makes cycling as transportation a valid option for him in the future, even as marketing continues to try to make car driving the norm. I want him to stay active so he can have a high quality of life for a long time.
- Being on a bike actually reduces the dangers associated with biking. When we are on a bike, we are one less car out there that could seriously injure or kill someone. Cycling is also a critical mass activity. The more people that cycle, the more infrastructure will be designed to accommodate cyclists safely and the more car drivers learn to interact safely with cyclists on the road. The more infrastructure that exists, the more likely others are to choose cycling. (https://macsphere.mcmaster.ca/bitstream/11375/9360/1/fulltext.pdf)
- Cycling as transportation has taught me that my actions affect others. It has made me more aware of how the choices I make affect those around me. I want to raise children who feel a part of the world they live in and are responsible for it. I want them to make decisions that include considerations for the safety of others and the environment.
- It’s just more fun! We are much more connected to the world around us when riding a bike. My son doesn’t get to hear the birds chirping when in a car. He has never exclaimed “Look daddy, the moon!” when in a car. He has never run up to me at home and asked to go for a car ride, but he regularly runs over with his helmet and asks for a bike ride.
Keep an eye for future posts on how we dad by bike. Riding with little ones has it’s challenges, but between the @daddinghamont team, we hope to give you some good info on getting started or continuing to ride as your family grows!