Just a few generations ago, in the 50s and ’60s, half of all children bicycled or walked to school. Today, only one in 10 does so.
In fact, even among school-age children who live within two miles of school, only about two percent ride bicycles to get there.
These figures have implications for health, fitness, and safety.
The Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition cites several major reasons for the decline:
• As we widened roads for cars, we decreased safety for bikers and walkers, leading to a lack of space for children to walk and bike safely.
• Excessive media stories about the dangers of child abductions, gun violence, drugs, and often other real-but-overblown-concerns add to a sense of danger and worry for parents.
The truth is that automobiles are by far a bigger threat to children than all these other potential threats combined.
• With both parents working, for longer hours, many try to compensate through the perceived ‘gift’ of driving children around.
They have also helped foster a loss of independence that comes from bicycling.
As was the case with recycling and smoking, it will take changes of awareness and attitude to change this condition. We should all try to help.