05 September 2014

Cycling To School

Yesterday I wrote about a sight I saw on my way to school.  To work, actually, but since I was teaching, I guess I could say I was going to school on my bike.

Which is kind of ironic, in a way.  You see, when I was going to school--at least, in the way most people think of it--I didn't ride my bike there.  

From Department of Transport  (UK)

All through my years in elementary school, and into junior high, I lived in Brooklyn.  I was never more than four blocks, or about a third of a kilometer, from any school I attended.  The same was true for just about every one of my peers.  So, nearly all of us walked; a few--believe it or not--were driven.  There weren't any bike racks or other storage facilities where I learned (well, where someone tried to teach me, anyway) reading, writing, 'ritmetic and religion.  

In those days, one almost never saw bikes parked on the street:  When any of us rode, we brought our wheels into the park or into our homes (actually, the basements of our houses or apartment buildings). If we went into a candy store, we propped our bikes by the store; I don't recall anyone's bike being stolen.  (Yes, that was in Brooklyn!)

Even after we moved to New Jersey, we never had to travel far to sit in classes in which I daydreamed about being a girl while my male classmates were thinking about girls.  Maybe a few other kids rode bikes; you knew they were freshmen or sophomores because when they became juniors, they got their drivers' permits and didn't touch their bikes again.

So, I grew up thinking that all of the kids who rode their bikes to school were fresh-scrubbed, blue-eyed Midwesterners  (or, perhaps, Southerners) with blonde pigtails or crewcuts.  Of course, they all rode Schwinns that they got for their birthdays or Christmas and, even when after their bikes were passed on to younger siblings, they looked like they just came out of the showroom.

I didn't pedal to class until I was in college.   Even if I had a driver's license, I couldn't have driven:  Underclassmen weren't allowed to bring cars on campus.  That didn't matter, really, because if I took a class on the other side of town, or the river, I could get there faster than the students who took the campus buses.  And, most of the other things I needed were within easy walking or cycling distance.


  1. A class of children were out in school time at the beach and I thought of you.

    I cycled to school and could time it to the second to be in bed as long as possible.

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  3. Coline--Isn't it funny how we can time things precisely enough to avoid whatever we're trying to avoid for as long as possible?