A Similarity Between Cyclists and Children

I’m in a position where I’m in the fairly early stages of being a “transportation cyclist” and a father.  It dawned on me the other day, how these two groups are somewhat similar.

For cyclists, potholes are a never ending problem.  What is a mere nuisance to an automobile can be a major hassle or even life threatening deficiency for a cyclists.  Cyclists become adept at making a mental map of such hazards, so we can proactively avoid the.  Occasionally, there is a pothole or other hazard that is so atrocious that cyclists or motorists actually take the time report it to the appropriate authorities.  Some states make this process easy, RI is not among them.  They leave the onus on the person making the report to determine which organization is responsible for the maintenance.  Recently, there was one such pothole on a route frequented by cyclists that was reported.  Much to our surprise, it was fixed within a day!  We aren’t sure whether this was mere luck or they actually sent a truck out to inspect it, determined that it really was dangerous and promptly fixed it.  By the shear volume of email this generated, you would have thought DOT had given the cyclists a big prize check.  Cyclists were absolutely thrilled that DOT fixed the pothole!   It made me realize that cyclists put up with a lot and hardly ever complain.  They take what they are given and make the best of it.

When I got home, I suddenly realized how similar this attitude is with young kids.  I’m constantly amazed at the pure thrill one of my kids can get from being given, oh I don’t know, a piece of paper.  If it’s unexpected or just what they are looking for, it can make them happier than any whiz bang toy that makes tons of noise with flashing lights.  While I can’t say that kids don’t ask for a lot, they often do a great job having fun with what they already have.  In many cases, they deal much better with change and go with the flow better than adults.

Almost every kid learns to ride a bike and it becomes, at least it used to, their first vehicle.  At some point, almost every kid seems to outgrow their bike and start driving.  Perhaps we would be a happier society all around if we did keep pedaling.  Is there magic in riding a bike?

1 comment

    • Amanda on October 27, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Mark- This reminds of the latest NPR’s This American Life Podcast. It all centered around mapping by different senses (ie: touch, sight, smell etc) and they were talking with a group of people that are paid to go around New York City and map where the sidewalks and roads need to be repaired. Apparently it is a law in New York that a pedestrian or bike rider cannot sue the city if a complaint has not been made about a specific area needing improvement and so a group of people get together to map out areas in need of help.

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