a sentimental bike ride

The other night, while I lie awake in bed, I was thinking about the differences of growing up in the 2000’s and in the 1980’s.  Mainly walking/riding to school.

I grew up in a small town, population around 5,000 on an oil and chip road with no sidewalks.  I remember walking to school (either by myself or with a friend) in 2nd grade.  Possibly even 1st grade.  We didn’t live very far away, maybe half a mile, so it wasn’t a big deal.  I know that nowadays I wouldn’t let my son walk to school at that age.

Soon I went to the Jr. High School.  That was on the other side of town and I was determined to walk home.  It was about a mile and a quarter.  For a 5th-6th grader, that was quite a distance!  I also remember riding my bicycle to school.  On the days that the chance of rain was 30-40% and I rode, I would bring plastic bags and rubber bands to put over the gears and brakes!

I remember that it was a big deal to be able to ride my bike on State Street.  It was a fairly big road for the small town.  It was also the quickest way to the library.  I had baskets on the back of my bike and I almost always filled them with books.  We also rode our bikes to the pool when we were old enough. I do remember one summer, we rode our bikes to Allerton Park.  For us, that was a big deal.  That was about a 5-6 mile ride.  No biggie these days, but it was a HUGE deal!

So what happened to bike riding?  I got my driver’s license and I didn’t ride my bike anymore.  I started driving everywhere.  I did bike a little bit here and there, but nothing like I had before.  I do wish I had taken my bike to college.  That would have saved a bit of mon,ey parking aggravation and I would have gotten a bit more exercise too.

3 Responses

  1. Funny – Just yesterday my hubby and I were talking about the fact that kids don’t really walk/bike to school much anymore. Even in kindergarten I biked to school with a group of neighborhood kids – the school was about ten blocks away. You’d never see that nowadays. Hubby and I were also lamenting the fact that you don’t see kids playing in the street with each other anymore, either. At least not around here. I spent most of my non-school hours as a kid playing in the neighborhood with other kids, but I haven’t seen very much of that in a long time.

  2. We played in the street too. I’m sure I walked to school with my sister, but I don’t remember it! My son is bussed to school. The districts here are funny. We are in Unit 5, but the school that is closest is part of District 87. We live on a somewhat quiet street, so the older kids do play a bit int he street.

    It’s just amazing on how different things are now. Some good, some bad.

  3. There’s a big push in various parts of the country for “safe routes to school”, which you two might be interested in! I see a couple kids riding home from school in one quiet neighborhood I ride through. It is an elementary school. I love seeing them on their bikes.

    I always lived too far from school for anything but the bus to be a real option, but in general it seems like there is an awful lot that we all could do as kids (that our parents were comfortable letting us do) that no one would remotely allow now.

    Though have you heard of the “free range kid” blog? I haven’t read it, but I read the original article in the NYTimes that (I think) started the blog. It is about a woman who (carefully and in somewhat controlled circumstance) let her son navigate his way on the ny public transit system.

    I found it interesting. I can’t imagine being a parent in today’s world!

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