Monday, March 13, 2006

Emerging Bike Riding Pedagogy

Yesterday, just a week after I scored the photos of that riding lesson, I ran across another such scene while walking along NW Hoyt Street at around 21st Avenue. I witnessed yet another grownup teaching yet another child how to ride a bike – but in the most brilliant way. The pedals had been completely removed from the bicycle so that the kid was propelling herself completely with her feet. As the rider experiences longer and longer glides with no pavement contact, she learns to balance on the two wheels. “After a point,” the mother explained, “they want the pedals on” so that they don’t have to interrupt their glide by touching the ground.

This would work so much better than having to keep jutting your feet down from the pedals and then finding the pedals again with your feet at the same time you’re having to watch where you’re going and avoid riding through a hedge. And as for training wheels, I remember vividly what those felt like and there’s no resemblance between riding a bike with training wheels and one without, so there’s no point.

This could even work for teaching grownups who have had the misfortune to reach adulthood without learning to ride a bike. On a low bike, without pedals to get in the way and hit them in the ankles, an adult could learn two-wheel balance with minimal risk of falling. This would take the fear out of it, which is the obstacle for most adults.

Hard to believe this is the first time I’ve run across this incredible idea.


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