Sunday, January 16, 2011

Banning Bikes

“Dad,” my son said wistfully as he stared out the car window, “we used to ride all over this town.” His voice had the nostalgic tone of an old man, but he was only six or seven years old.

Now he's nearly 22, and the memory of his childhood reminiscing that day still makes me smile

We had moved to Santa Fe, N.M., just before his third birthday. I worked nights on the copy desk at a newspaper, and one of our favorite things to do together most weekdays was to cruise through town on my mountain bike as he rode in a child's seat on the back. Sometimes, we’d stop and share a Coke. Or we’d ride to the Plaza and play in the grass.

Those are of some of my favorite memories as a dad. Later, I racked up more memories riding in Alaska while towing my daughter on her trail-a-bike. I still smile when I remember the sound of her gleefully yelling, “Go faster!” as we rolled down hills on the Coastal Trail. And I’ll never forget the day she realized her own strength and told me to stop pedaling, then proceeded to put the hammer down and propel us both past her unsuspecting (and coasting) big brother.

The look on his face when he saw that his much younger sister was pushing his much heavier dad into the lead sent Hannah into a priceless fit of laughter.

As far as I’m concerned, those are the kinds of moments that politicians are talking about when they spew platitudes about “family values.” It would be nice if more of them understood the term.

We all know politicians are the masters of producing bad ideas but, occasionally, one of them manages to outdo himself.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick, a Democrat, recently introduced House Bill 2228 in the Oregon Legislature, a proposal that, according to the bill’s summary, “Prohibits person from carrying child under six years of age on bicycle or in bicycle trailer. Punishes by maximum fine of $90.”

I cannot begin to fathom the motivation behind such an absurd idea. In a country where obesity is reaching epidemic proportions, and stressed, overworked parents often spend only minutes per day interacting with their children, this guy believes Oregon’s children would be better off not going for bike rides with their parents?

What the hell?

Active kids are shaped from an early age. One of the best things a parents can do for children is to teach them to go outside and play. Kick balls. Sled down hills. Ride bicycles. It teaches them about healthy lifestyles, and helps them become happier adults.

Who knows? It might even help keep them from becoming politicians.


Joboo said...

Thanks for this post T!!
I'm right there with you........ some of my best memories along with all 4 of my children, are getting pulled behind me in the Burly!!!
My youngest (4yrs old) asked the other day for a ride in minus 10 degree weather!! It's pretty cold Jenna...."it'll be ok dad, we have lots of blankets, and we can put the cover down today I think!!??" classic!!! :))

I don't live in Greenlicks state, but I sent him an email just the same!!


RANTWICK said...

Oh man. Well said... stuff like this just fries my brain. Grrr.

Julie said...

That's crap. You're right, riding on the back of my dad's bike were some of the best memories of my childhood. It's the first time I got to get out and really see the world around me. It just made me all that more excited for the day when I could ride my own bike.

By the time a child is six, he can ride his own bike. You wouldn't have any reason to tow him anymore, so this guy pretty much wants to ban trailers and child bike seats all together.

Phil B said...

It is the desire to protect those dumb masses from themselves. Let's think about this rationally. Mitch Greenlick is simply trying to save the children. What if mom or dad takes a spill with the child on the back of the bike. That would result in skinned knees, bumped elbows, maybe even a bloody nose. Imagine if the dumb masses don't put helmets on their children!

I say ban bikes altogether for anyone under the age of 18. Require bicycle licenses just like for a car. Require full face helmets, shin, knee, chest, and arm pads, seat belts, and day-time running lights. Place a bicycle tax on every bike, part, and accessory sold to pay for all of the irreparable harm that comes from uninsured cyclists plowing down pedestrians and autos.

Rep Mitch Greenlick is the exact type of person who makes me shudder to think that I generally consider myself a democrat and a liberal. Whatever happened to the idea of a liberal being someone who seeks personal liberty for all, including putting our kids on bikes, eschewing the auto, and living a healthy life?

Love the blog, BTW

corinne said...

I can't imagine a state less likely to pass a stupid law like this than Oregon. A few years ago I was in Portland for a workshop and met a friend for dinner one evening. I arrived very early so I walked around the neighborhood, a few miles from downtown. It turned out to be a major route for bicycle commuters. As a girl from Anchorage, it was overwhelming to see hundreds of bicyclists ride past at 'rush hour.' Lots of people in work clothes and pulling kids in trailers home from daycare.

I'm guessing that Oregon has a political climate similar to Alaska but opposite. If you live west of the Cascades and want to be elected, better call yourself a Democrat. Sort of like left-of-center moderates here calling themselves Republicans.

Michael Van Horn said...

Children should be allowed to spend time with their own PARENTS!!! Especially with a healthy activity like Biking...

LBJ said...

Yeah - that Portland legislator is totally ridiculous. The world needs fewer politicians like him and more politicians like Jim Oberstar, who actually had some common sense when it came to bikes!

Joboo said...

LBJ ~~~ I live in former Rep. Jim Oberstars district in northern Mn. I've ridden in many "Rides with Jim" over his years as our rep.
He's a nice enough fellow, who totally lost touch with his district during his terms over the years.
Yes, he did many a great things for us pedalers, and he will be missed, for that reason, and that reason alone!!
I voted for him every time, except this last time. Why, you ask?? There came a time in my life where I had to put my cycling life beliefs behind my children's future and their well being, heading into their future. Mr. O did to much bad IMHO to hurt my children and everyone elses children in his district. I and many others voiced our concerns to him, which unfortunently fell on deaf ears one time to many.
Sometimes the peoples voices are heard, unfotunetly for Mr. O, he finally heard those voices this past Nov.
So be it!!