After what seemed like an extended winter this year, by the time we finally got our first warm day the nearby park was bursting with families. Many kids showed up on bicycles, but my daughter chose to walk.
Don’t get me wrong. We are proud that she loves to walk places, and it certainly has its own benefits, but we’re all a little frustrated that, despite our best efforts, she still doesn’t feel comfortable biking even a short distance.
It wasn’t until I was reading a story on the BBC website and learned about Denmark’s emerging bicycle playgrounds that I recognized one of the biggest problems facing my daughter and other children: where to safely practice. According to the article, in 2011 the Danish Cyclists Federation created a mobile bicycle park in Copenhagen, fully enclosed, with different surfaces and varying ramps, so that kids could “play themselves into secure cyclists”. This trial proved so successful Denmark has decided to produce them nationwide. (The video below was taken at one of these playgrounds.)
We’ve used the amazing services of Pedalheads to help teach our daughter the basics in the summer, but imagine if we had one of these parks, too? What if my overly cautious kid didn’t have to constantly scan for cars while she tried to build up her confidence; if she was able to practice going up and down in equal measure, alongside other learning children? We don’t live in a warm climate; it’s a short practice window. Imagine how much we could get accomplished.
I could picture what biking would do for my girl, besides the obvious health benefits. It’s a chance for her to be more independent, to go out biking with her friends, and perhaps best of all, it’s something we could all do together.
Proving my addiction to social media does have its merits, I’ve recently discovered a friend’s Facebook page happily detailing her sons’ love of an indoor bicycle park called Joyride 150. In the picture she shared, despite the fact that it was a particularly freezing day, the kids were definitely not suffering; what a treat for them to be able to stay active despite needing to stay indoors, and to also be able to practice their bicycling skills.
With temperatures rising, winter may seem like a distant memory now, but for colder climes where temperatures frequently dip into the frosty zone, the indoor bike park idea is very appealing.
What do you think? Are you familiar with bicycle playgrounds? Would you want one in your community? Share the places you love and what works for you in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.