In December, Angie of 4onaQuarter posted the following video, which follows a group of students from an Orlando high school where her husband teaches as they ride their bikes to school. This "bike bus" is one of the most inspiring things I have watched recently.
For many teenagers, the car is the epitome of a new independence and autonomy. It is also a symbol of sex and power. Our car culture is deep and widespread - it's in films, magazines, advertisements, the local drive-thru.
Yes, a car will get a teenager where he or she wants to go, but in a small town like mine, couldn't a bike do just as well for students living within city limits? I think of the jobs students take on to fill up their gas tank - that money could be spent on other things, or more wisely, saved. I think of the congested streets leading to the schools in the morning, and the newly expanded parking lot. And I think of all the youth that have died on our roads.
Certainly, cars have their place, and they are a necessity for families living in rural areas. But what about kids living a mile or two from school?
I obtained my driver's license a few years later than most of my classmates, and I remember getting many rides to school from my parents. I wish now that I'd ridden my bike to school - maybe I could have even inspired a few friends to join me.
It's a little dream of mine that instead of a large parking lot at the school, there was a line of bike racks. Not hidden by a side door, but at the front entrance. Bike racks full of cruisers and 10-speeds, bmx, hybrid, and mountain bikes, in all colors, with racks and baskets ready to carry home backpacks and other odd and ends. And maybe, instead of tearing out of the parking lot every afternoon, students would chat with each other while they unlocked their bikes. Hang out for a few minutes. Ride home with a friend.
If these high school students in Orlando can begin to take back their streets, I think it's possible almost everywhere.