Get our kids out of the car and into their community

Study suggests kids who know their cars too much don’t know their communities

One of the great signs of spring is seeing kids out on bikes. Especially kids out learning to ride for the first time. We all get how kids who cycle are healthier, even as we worry for their safety. What probably keeps kids off bikes, for the most part, are cars. And for two reasons. First, we take ourselves and our kids everywhere in cars. Second, we are afraid our kids will get hit by a car. But for most of us, we suspect, there is a nagging feeling that we should get our kids out on bikes more often.

image of child in car

A recent study, as reported in Atlantic Cities, suggests that is true and for more reasons than might first appear.

On top of the usual lack of health and confidence drawbacks, kids who are driven in cars all the time do not appear to develop a good understanding of place and remain disconnected and uncomfortable with their wider community. Citing polls that show a dramatic decrease in the number of people cycling to school over one generation, the study showed how kids who bike could draw maps showing the connections in their communities, whereas kids were driven all the time could not. Furthermore, the car-riding children were more afraid of cars around their schools.

The article and the research by Donald Appleyard that started the idea of “livable streets” make for very interesting reading for any parent or for any cyclist. Or, to start, watch this video by

[vimeo w=500&h=281]

The message is clear: get out of our cars and get into our communities (and get happier at the same time). In Peterborough, we are lucky our community is such a beautiful place. Let’s let our kids discover that.

And lest we be misunderstood, we are not against cars. They are a necessary part of our lives. We just wonder if they should be such a big and omnipotent part of our lives.