Cycling for kids: Strider Bikes and Specialized Foundation

What will this do to our community?  –Wendell Berry quoting the Amish in The Sun Magazine, August 2017

Imagine if we made cycling accessible for everyone, from the moment we could walk to our last steps on this earth?  Strider Bikes and the Specialized Foundation are two companies hard at work making this dream possible.  Strider Bikes makes bicycles without pedals so people simply use their natural leg motion to propel the bike forward.  Riders learn the feeling of steering and balancing while gliding at moderate speeds.  Strider bikes are also called balance bikes.  They have handbrakes for stopping.  Strider Bikes makes a range of bicycles, beginning with one designed for children who are 18 months old.   Balance bikes are fun for all ages and all abilities.  I could see these helping senior cyclists.  It is like walking on a bicycle.  But it has that cycling magic, a gliding feel, like we are walking on air.

We believe it [cycling] has positive benefits far beyond what we currently understand, and we hope that our primary scientific research will lend itself to a broader discussion around how activities, like cycling, can help with all types of health-related issues.  –Mike Sinyard, Specialized Bicycles

Specialized bicycles are world class.  You see them underneath winners of the Tour de France.  The Specialized Foundation is developing specific applications for cycling as a treatment for ADHD in kids.  Mike Sinyard, Specialized’s Founder and CEO, has dealt with ADHD his whole life, and he noticed cycling alleviates symptoms.  A few years ago he decided to partner with researchers at Stanford to study the exact mechanisms of action that are helpful.  As part of the Foundation’s mission to “advance the understanding of how cycling can help improve the social, emotional, and physical wellbeing of children”, they have a grant program for schools who can apply for assistance supporting cycling for middle school aged kids, 11-14 years old.  Every cyclist I know expounds upon the benefits cycling introduces to their lives.  With scientific studies like this one, we are just beginning to understand what is possible using cycling as medicine.

For the lucky ones, cycling is a continuous journey that blooms throughout life.  To create more opportunity for more people to discover and enjoy the incredible powers of cycling, we have to improve traffic safety.  Here at Southwest Bike Initiative, we believe if we get safety right, automatic and beneficial effects are generated in our transportation and related systems, such as healthcare (where America spends 18% of our GDP!), creative economies, biodiversity, and better connected, more livable communities.  Cycling is such an appropriate technology for so many of our trips.  It makes our bodies feel whole again, well-suited and sufficient.  A safe traffic system is structural encouragement for active transportation.  We can feel free to use our independent mobility powers.

Cycling is a technological innovation delivering profound boosts to the entire community.  Let’s use it to our fullest capabilities!  And remember, the most important reason to cycle is fun.  People take to bicycles like birds take to the air.

References and credits:

All three photos are from Strider Bikes:  https://www.striderbikes.com/learn-to-ride

Story of Specialized Foundation:  https://www.specialized.com/us/en/specialized-foundation-about-us

Outside’s story on Specialized’s work, “Road bikes not ritalin, how cycling could help kids with adhd”:
https://www.outsideonline.com/2095101/road-bikes-not-ritalin-how-cycling-could-help-kids-adhd

Health care data from the World Health Org.,: http://apps.who.int/nha/database

Cycling makes a better life

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”  –Leo Tolstoy

Although changing ourselves may be the hardest thing, a lot of people are putting their imaginations to work through cycling.  The positive effects of cycling are astounding.  62-year-old Geoff Whitington gained a new lease on life after taking on the challenge of doing the Ride London event in 2014.  Geoff had diabetes before he committed to training.  Now, three years later, he’s transformed his life by losing 98 pounds.  He’s diabetes-free.

Geoff was part of the “Fixing Challenge” in the UK, where families are encouraged to change their lives and share their stories to inspire others.  Geoff’s story “could be the story of millions” who are suffering from imbalanced eating and sedentary lifestyles.  The truth is when we try to change ourselves we get a lot of support from others.

We need to hear more of these good news stories.  And they go well beyond diabetes.  Cycling helps us improve our mental health, freedom and independence, and gives youth a chance to explore their world while discovering their inherent mobility powers.  Cycling can also give us a sense of fullness that comes with a purposeful life filled with meaning and joy.  Cycling helps us experience beauty and satisfaction in our everyday lives that we can share.  This is on top of all the social benefits such as savings on healthcare, freed up space, and creating more livable cities.

Here are links to Geoff’s story, and a few more.  Cycle on!
The Prudential RideLondon Fixing Challenge, Geoff’s story:
 https://www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk/events/100/entries/ballot/fixing-challenge/
An article in the NY Times today about veterans re-centering their lives with outdoor activities:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/us/finding-some-peace-after-war
Lael Wilcox on why she tackles long distance rides by herself:
http://www.bicycling.com/rides/why-i-choose-to-tackle-really-long-rides-by-myself

 

A view of Durango from Ft. Lewis College earlier this year at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic