Has anybody critically thought about the way children are taught to ride these days? When I was a kid growing up in Werris Creek we were taught that a bike is a vehicle like any other, and that one must obey the rules of the road if they want to cycle safely.
The emphasis was firmly on learning how to deal with conditions on the road riding a bike. Perhaps it was just the low traffic density there, or maybe people were just more considerate in the '80s, but we seemed to have very few cyclist/motorist clashes in Werris Creek and generally everyone got along reasonably well.
These days, the emphasis seems to be on how "dangerous" the road is. By that, I mean the powers that be seem to be sending out a message of "get out of the way of cars at all costs". Evidently I must have been sheltered at Werris Creek because it seems to have been going on for some time in the 'outside world', judging by the number of adults I see behaving in the new fashion.
What we now see is a lot of cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road, and suddenly mounting the footpath at the first sight of a car, and that's only the ones who make it onto the road to begin with. Of course, this presents it's own problems (mainly terrorising pedestrians and the fact that cars pulling out of driveways tend not to look for cyclists on the wrong side of the road), but hey, if it means they won't get "run over from behind" people seem to be happy (incidentally, being run over from behind accounts for only a very small percentage of car/bike accidents).
Inevitably, this new way leads to an increased number of bicycle accidents (is it any wonder?), and ultimately leads to children being banned from riding to school because it's "too dangerous" or bikes being banned from many public roadways because of this. Is it then any wonder that as soon as a teenager is old enough to drive, they're so keen to dump the bike altogether?
Call me old fashioned if you like. Even call me a redneck if it makes you feel any better, but I thought Werris Creek had the right idea.