It took a bit of bushwhacking, but Ryan finally found his way though a small woodlot to forge his way into the yard at the educational center where he takes programs every Tuesday and Wednesday. There were sticks in his gears and mud on his pants, but the important thing was that Ryan had successfully and safely navigated his way. He had been asking me if he could start to ride his bike the 10-15 minutes to "school" each day and I had been holding him off. Worried that the traffic on my road went too fast or that cars just wouldn't notice a kid riding alongside a country road at 9am in the morning. I mean come on...kids just don't ride to school via bikes any more so people have forgotten to be on the watch out for bike riding kids. Right?
Well, Ryan wasn't going to take no for an answer, and a few days ago, when a group of retired men peddled their bikes up the hill in front of our house mid-morning, Ryan told me that if the road out front was safe enough for them, then it was safe enough for him. Adding to his argument was the fact that a few of the facilitators at his educational center also rode their bikes each day, along the same country roads, only for them, the trip was 7-8 miles rather than Ryan's 1.5 miles.
So, armed with a short cut through the woodlot near the "school", Ryan set off this morning. I followed along behind him in the car, feeling a bit silly, yet wanting to make sure that this first trip of his was uneventful. Well, Ryan made the trip no problem, despite being a bit cold and unsure if the shortcut was truly a shortcut, given its pitfalls. As I watched Ryan head into the barn for his first program this morning, I reminded myself that I need to let go and let Ryan travel this road each day, despite my fears of fast cars and such, just as I will have to do with the many other paths he will choose for himself in his lifetime.
If you are interested in having your kids ride their bikes to school, there is a great website called "Safe Routes to School" covering this issue. The site talks about the health benefits of kids riding their bikes to school as well as how bike riding has declined amongst kids since the 1960's.