Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ahh, Those Were the Days...

In the wake of two high profile cycling fatalities Ontario's Chief Coroners is conducting a review of cycling fatalities. As part of the process submissions from the public were solicited, the deadline for submission was November 30th. A couple of local Ottawa groups crafted submissions which were profiled on a local cycling blog CitizenCycle.
It is the comments on The RCC's submission that got me feeling uncharacteristically nostalgic. Here part of a comment by Avery B.:
"Cycling used to be a healthy enjoyable pastime and, for a tiny few, a means to get to work or school. Unfortunately it has been hijacked by various urban movements, whose political goals have little to do with safe cycling and more to do with alternate European inspired lifestyles".
How to react to such a comment? Cycling used to be? Here we are in the midst of a prolonged and hopefully sustained cycling boom and Avery B. is nostalgic for a time when nobody cycled. Inconceivable. I find Avery's comment sad on a number of levels, mostly though because it runs completely counter to my experience. Cycling way back when was not something a tiny few used to get to work or school, while not grade school, any way. Cycling in the 70's and early 80's was a kids activity, many kids would ride their bikes to school. It was normal for elementary school kids to ride to school unattended, across and on busy streets. Commute by bike? Only if you were once or still an Olympic hopeful.
Now, the situation has completely reversed. Cycle commuting is booming, but kids can't cycle a few blocks to school. The irony is cycling is objectively safer now compared to way back when, but I still won't be letting my daughter cycle to school on her own. Cycling is still a healthy enjoyable pastime, it has not been hijacked by any movements or alternate European inspired lifestyles. Cycling is enjoying a boom because it is enjoyable and useful. hopefully we can make it even safer and get our children cycling again.

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