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Monday, November 17, 2003

Kids' bikes selling at record pace...
...but are not being ridden. According to the Washington Post, 20.4 million children in the United States rode a bicycle six or more times a year in 1991, and 16.8 million did so last year.

Six times a year is hardly riding at all. But wait, there's a dark side to the dark side here:

At the same time, more children's bicycles are being sold. That is partly because they are cheaper than ever, according to Matt Wiebe of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News magazine. Wiebe said more than 80 percent of sales are made at Wal-Mart, where bikes can be found for a little as $30.

So despite the fact that fearful parents won't allow their kids to ride their bikes anywhere useful (the article suggests that some parents in some neighborhoods tell their kids not to leave the DRIVEWAY), or maybe that the kids have gotten lazy, expecting a minivan ride to the video store every day, money keeps pouring in to Wal-Mart shareholders and their sweatshop suppliers.

Sprawl is a total disaster for kids. Not only is their freedom restricted because of the danger from traffic (or their parents fear of it), and by the fact that there probably aren't any fun places to ride to anyway (Hey look! The Smith's have a well-manicured non-descript one-acre backyard just like us!), they are being conditioned to accept this lazy ugly consumptive blandness as the only possible reality. Of all the possible Americas that could have been chosen over the past 100 years, we seem to have made a very bad choice.