If you've always thought of Oregon as one of those green, crunchy, go with the flow kind of states, prepare to adjust your opinions. A legislator in the Beaver State is trying to gnaw away at a parent's right to raise their kids to love to exercise. His first step? A state law to get little kids off bikes.
Welcome to fear-mongering, Oregon House Representative Mitch Greenlick presiding. Greenlick's concern is that parents who ride with their kids on their bikes -- be it in seats or even in trailers behind them -- are dangerous. Gasp! Ya think?
Hey Mr. Greenlick! Yoohoo! Ever taken a toddler out for her first wobbly bike ride? It usually goes something like this: toddler falls off, toddler gets a scraped knee, toddler wails loudly. Mom tells them to get back on and try again. Toddler falls off. Toddler scrapes other knee. Can you see where I'm going with this?
Kids + bicycles = a little danger. Of course, that could just as easily apply to all the fun, wonderful things about childhood. Tree climbing? Check. Swinging on the swings? Check. Swimming? Check.
That Oregon is going after parents carrying a kid on their bike entirely -- rather than, say, legislating a child on a parent's bike must be outfitted with a helmet -- is particularly troubling because it's one of those rites of childhood that's as rife with benefits as it is dangers. Biking is a valid way to burn calories -- important in light of ye olde childhood obesity crisis. Biking has a virtually zero carbon footprint -- always a good thing in light of global warming. Biking is inexpensive -- hello bad economy.
And to top it all off, biking is a good family activity. Nay, a great one. Because if parents start their kids off small as riders on a bike, they role model a good behavior that provides all the aforementioned benefits, hopefully encouraging a lifelong love of the activity. But it's also something parents can do with their kids at pretty much any age. They grow out of their baby toys, grow out of their toddler toys, grow out of toys entirely, but biking is an every age thing.
Yes, bikes are dangerous. But until you take away all the trees, swing sets, and swimming pools, how about letting good parents take proper precautions to keep their kids safe and leave the fear-mongering to the Internet. Would you be angry if they told you that you couldn't ride with your child?
Image via dr.Kab/Flickr