ON BIKE CULTURE IN EUGENE | Fine blogging since 2010 (with periodic long breaks)
I’m going south on Coburg Road, and I head through the light at Willakenzie — fairly major intersection on one of the busiest streets in town. I glance to the right as I’m almost through the intersection and waiting there in the bike lane on Willakenzie is a little girl, certainly no older than 10. She’s on one of those little pink bikes with the little 12-inch white tires. You know the bike I’m talking about. It’s more or less one of these:
There’s no adult in sight. She’s totally got her game face on. Helmet properly seated and strapped. Both hands gripping the handlebars. Staring at the traffic light, waiting for the green. She looks ready to rock. Based on my quick glimpse, whoever instructed her on how to ride in traffic certainly impressed on her the need to be vigilant and focused. But seriously? A 10-year-old girl riding in real-life traffic on a major arterial?
I guess I’m not sure what to think. At first I thought, where the hell is the adult?! Then I recalled that big fuss that broke out after a New York newspaper columnist wrote about how she let her 9-year-old son ride the subway by himself. People were outraged. But she completely defended herself, and I ended up buying into the basic idea of what she was saying: That being too protective of kids is “debilitating” to them. That letting kids accomplish things like this builds their confidence.
Sure, but how young is too young to be set loose alone on a bike on a busy street at about 5:30 p.m.? Come to think of it, what’s more dangerous: riding the subway in Manhattan or crossing Coburg Road during evening drive time?
I dunno. What do you think?