On the bike: Driver behavior — start ’em young!

Cute little bikey story from a couple of weeks ago . . .

Gabriel and I were headed home on Big Blue.  We were on a one-way neighborhood street with parked cars on both sides, leaving a rather narrow effective travel lane.  I was headed uphill and moving none too fast.  There was a car behind us, and after crossing an intersection, I moved over to facilitate a pass (they ended up turning on the cross street — isn’t that always the way?).

I noticed quite a bit of broken glass in our path (as is common toward the edge of the road), and I commented on it to Gabriel as we re-established our position in the debris-free portion of the street.

I couldn’t help but use it as a teaching opportunity to talk about why we don’t drive our bike on the edge of the roadway: more debris = more flats (not to mention other dangers).  It wasn’t the first time we’d talked about lane position on the bike, and he picked up right away, remembering a time we’d been in the car and seen some other bicyclists.

Gabriel: “Yeah, remember that time we were going to Baba’s and we saw those bicyclists riding on the very edge of the road?  That was NOT good!”

I agreed.  He went on, “It made me so angry my brown eyes turned black!”  Wowza, that’s angry!

We talked a little bit more, about how we didn’t want to be angry with them, we were just concerned for their safety.  I recounted the story to Matthew when we got home, and he said this had come up in a conversation he’d had with Gabriel a week earlier.  It’s rewarding to see him picking up on these things, and it helped reinforce my decision to go by bike, even on a really hot day!

Bikey books for kids

A couple of months ago, I explored options for toys that don’t reinforce the car culture, or, to put a positive spin on it, toys that build and reinforce bike culture.  Unlike bicycle toys, books about bicycles are relatively easy to find (though still much less prevalent than books about cars, trucks, and other motorized machines), and acquiring said books was my mission this month.

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Curious George Rides a Bike
This was low-hanging fruit.  Gabriel loves cute-sy George,” and there’s a George book about almost every topic under the sun.  We had previously checked out a cardboard book simply entitled Curious George Rides, and despite the front cover, which features George riding a bike, that book covered various forms of transportation, not just bicycles.

By contrast, Curious George Rides a Bike is just what I wanted.  I like that the bicycles in the book have practical features, like fenders and lights.

Bear on a Bike
This book is similar to Curious George Rides, in that Bear tries various forms of transportation, not just a bicycle.  But the bicycle is featured on the cover and in the title, and, once again, we have a nice, practical bicycle, this time complete with a front cargo basket and a rear child seat for Bear’s little friend.

Franklin Rides a Bike
A cute story about how Franklin overcomes his fear of riding without training wheels so he can keep up with all of his friends on their bicycle adventures.  When reading together, I’ve been focusing on the theme of trying again if something doesn’t work the first time.

Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen
This may be the cream of the crop, and it doesn’t hurt that it is written and illustrated by bikey ladies.  In her bio, the auther, Cari Best, writes about growing up with bicycles:

I rode my “new” bicycle everywhere with great pride . . . . I even pedaled to LaGuardia Airport and rode across the shadows of the giant planes parked on the ground.

I used to pretend that my bike was my car. We didn’t own one, and almost never took a vacation. But I didn’t miss going on car trips because I had my bike.

Sally Jean not only rides bicycles, she repairs them, too, and the book follows Sally Jean from her introduction to bicycles (riding on the back of Mama’s bike) to building her very own grown-up bike when she outgrows her kid bike.  The strong female lead earned the book a place on the Top 100 Mighty Girl Picture Books list.

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Since picking these books up on Sunday, Sir seems to be at least a bit more interested in riding his own bike, and he is definitely enthusiastic about the books!

Any other great kids’ bicycle books that I’m missing?  I’d love to add to this list.