Photo of children growing up on bicycles with text "We had no idea how good we had it and no clue that we were the last ones."

Growing Up on a Bicycle: What Kids are Missing Today

Growing up on a bicycle influenced the person I am today. Pedaling up and down the streets of my neighborhood, I’d waved at retirees tending their flowers. I saw many manicured lawns and occasional yards with well-loved weeds. I learned which neighbors had dogs (and the ones who let them run loose!). As I got older, I would venture further from home. That spurred my wanderlust. I loved discovering what lies beyond the rise in the road.

Many things allowed me to free-roam on my bicycle. First, my parents trusted me. Though my grandmother described my curiosity as insatiable, it rarely overrode my inner voice when it said to stop, take a different route, or go home.

But, in my opinion, more deterrents exist today that keep kids from growing up on bicycles. Since 2000, neighborhood density has increased. Homes sit on smaller lots. They house more adults. More adults mean more automobiles per house. Those adults are are ordering more goods and services that are being be delivered. These neighborhoods are then fenced in by major boulevards with 45-mile-per-hour or higher speed limits. How does a kid on a bicycle safely get across those busy wide streets?

Cars line the street of my early 1960s-circa neighborhood, too. Most drivers drive much faster the 25-hour speed limit, too. While I know I can easily get to a grocery store without crossing a major road, kids on bicycles have to cross at least one very busy street just to get to school.

In my opinion, the lack of safe roadways and routes is helping to keep children off bikes, glued to devices and computer games, and robbing them of experiencing the real world…and from discovering what’s just beyond the rise in the road.