Streets are for (Small) People!

Whose streets? Their streets!

My five year old has recently begun to inform us on a daily basis that when he becomes president (his election is apparently a foregone conclusion) that the first "rule" he will give will be "bikes only." When he says this I instantly call to mind memories of him screaming at cars who pass too close to the Yuba, "Streets are for people!" Then yesterday he brought our well-worn copy of Charles Montgomery's Happy City to his dad, turned to a diagram of a 1972 study of how traffic patterns influenced friendship patterns, and asked him to explain it (pg 169). And Parker did. I always assumed my children would be weird (Apple, meet tree.). Now I think I may be beginning to see a preview of the contours of that weirdness.

I'm not sure that I should have expected anything different, since my kids hang out most of the day every day with someone who is actively reading and radicalizing himself in the ways of active
In case anyone is looking for a last minute gift idea for Parker...
transportation. But I have to admit sometimes I'm surprised by the delightfully indoctrinated things that come out of their mouths.

As a pastor and in that sense an educator, I often find it helpful to think about the explicit (what I'm saying with my words), implicit (what I'm saying "between the lines" with what I do), and null (what I'm saying by what I'm leaving out/not doing) curriculum at work in whatever statements, sermons, lesson plans, and actions I'm writing or carrying out. On all levels it seems my kids are getting the message that bikes, feet, trains, and buses are great ways of getting around that help our community and our planet.

What kids see
I also think that moving toward active transportation and reclaiming our built environment for bicycles and pedestrians makes a major difference to our children. A study by Bruce Appleyard (He's actually the son of the researcher responsible for the above mentioned 1972 study!) shows that children who walk or bike places both know their community better and feel safer in it. Moreover, it's these small people with still developing depth perception and a fierce drive for physical activity who are curtailed and endangered most by built environments that allow for high speed car traffic to mix with residential areas.

I don't know if either of my kids will grow up to be brilliant urban planners or militant biktivists, but right now they are certainly helping the cause just by being mostly cooperative accomplices. Tonight, as I was riding on my bike behind the three of them on the Yuba (Parker in a Santa suit cuz you know, Christmas shenanigans), I watched the boys as they pointed out their favorite lit up houses and I felt confident that no matter what they grow up to be, think, or do, they will have good memories of this December and this entire season of being small on the back of a big, green bike.


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