Children and the bike cult
But these programs apparently aren't enough for some, which is why we have a website devoted to the idea that kids should ride bikes on the streets of San Francisco.
The Bicycle Plan proposes indoctrinating city school children in the benefits of cycling as a lifestyle, though that won't begin, you understand, until the children are nine years old:
Before the age of nine, most children do not have the maturity and developmental skills required to ride a bicycle in urban traffic situations...In addition to technical skill and traffic laws, bicycle-safety education for children should promote bicycling as an enjoyable transportation method with positive lifestyle, health, and environmental benefits. (pages 5-7, 5-8, San Francisco Bicycle Plan, Policy Framework, May, 2005)
In a discussion of John Forester's ideas, bike messenger and author Robert Hurst (The Art of Cycling) has a different view:
While Forester claimed that even children could ride safely on busy streets using the vehicular-cycling principle, our way is unquestionably for adults. Freedom will be our food and our poison. The streets demand from us[cyclists] an awareness and maturity that would be very rare in a child.
Kids and bikes can be a dangerous combination:
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), each year more than 700 people are killed and over 500,000 are treated in emergency rooms as a result of bicycling injuries in the U.S. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 are particularly prone to bicycle-related injuries and account for the majority of those treated for cycling injuries in hospital emergency rooms.
From the National Safe Kids Foundation:
Bikes are a classic symbol of childhood recreation, transportation and health...Unfortunately, bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile. In 2001, 134 children ages 14 and under died and nearly 314,600 were injured in bicycle crashes. Additionally, more than 176,000 children ages 5 to 14 are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to skateboards, scooters and skates.