Habits are formed early, so we’ve been trying to influence Junior’s transportation habits since he was a wee young thing. When he was really little MaryBeth would occasionally take him on the bus to/from school. For a toddler, there was no cooler method of transportation than mass transit – let’s hope that sentiment sticks with him.
The second prong of our plan has been liberal applications of bike transport… We’ve moved through various stages of development: bike trailer; Trail-a-Bike and now, at last, his own pedal bike. Thanks to some initial balance training on a Strider pedal-less bike, Junior has been riding his pedal bike without training wheels since he was just shy of 4 1/2. He’s been riding his bike to/from school for the past few weeks (though “from” school only just recently as it is all uphill) and really gets a kick out of it!
Saturday saw a major breakthrough in self-propelled biking. Junior rode 3.5 miles to the Farmer’s Market on his little 12″ wheeled bike. When you’re four, 3.5 miles is forever! He was quite the trooper and we used the outing to teach/reinforce bike lane/path etiquette and bike safety.
We didn’t cover the distance completely without incident, but as luck would have it when we approached our first potential melt-down, a familiar voice called out to us. Pete and Janet (and Greta the dog) to the rescue! Nothing cuts off recreational whining faster than the opportunity to show off your biking skills to an appreciative and admiring audience. After a brief visit the little guy was raring to go all the way. A couple of additional rest stops later (including one when another cyclist wanted to talk Xtracycles – the word’s getting out!) and we were at the top of the hill above the Farmers’ Market. There was no stopping him now but we did spend time reinforcing the concept of a controlled descent as the bike path has multiple switchbacks to help with the uphill climb on the way back.
The return trip was a combination of his riding on the back of one of the Xtracycles (with his bike stowed on the other X) and his riding his own bike. All in all he probably put in a little over 4 miles on that little bike. Needless to say, he slept well last night!
With luck, by the time Junior is old enough to drive he will realize that a car is not needed for many/most of his trips. With even more luck, he will experience a childhood similar to ours where we explored our towns and neighboring towns all from the saddle of a bike. Kids are well served by a bit of independence and self reliance. We don’t plan on becoming a taxi service…and the first time he suggests he needs his own car, we’ll buy him an Xtracycle!