Where this comes from is an amalgamation of the start of the Dutch cycle re-revolution (see Stop the Child Murder ) and a CDC report on un-natural deaths (see Ten Leading Causes of Death and Injury or if you really like lots of reading GMWKI). As you can see, the most dangerous thing we can do to our kids is put them in a car. The main reason for the decline in motor vehicle deaths in the 0-5 age group is the mandating of child restraint seats up to age 4 or 6 in some states. If motor vehicles were a disease there would be telethons and people protesting in the streets for a “cure”. Instead we just make sympathetic noises and chalk it up to “wrong place, wrong time” or “natural selection” like the kid had any choice in the matter. The number of child <16 YO deaths has decreased pretty much at the same rate as other age groups, except as noted the slight added decrease because of mandated restraints for the under 5 crowd.
So, what can be done about this?
The most obvious answer is to remove children from the most dangerous thing in their lives, the motor vehicle. I mean we are constantly bombarded with messages to parents about not leaving kids in hot cars, that kill a few kids every year, when just putting them in the car and driving is far more deadly to your kids. We have got to get kids out of cars, all the time, not just parked cars in the summertime.
And how do we do that? The American parent spends much of their away from work time driving the kids here, there and everywhere. And when kids are left without immediate adult supervision parents are threatened with jail time and loss of their children. If only there were some way to get kids safely from one place to another and still keep them under adult supervision…
Of course part of the answer is to not get so hyper about children always having an adult around to "protect" them. The fear is of course that some evil pedophile will swoop down on them and steal the kids away, when the facts are that most pedophiles find jobs that place them in the child-supervision business, or are close friends or family of the victim(s). In other words the fact that we require constant adult supervision is a leading cause of children becoming victims of sexual predators. It gets the kids into a known location where they are easy to find and pick over for a victim. Kids that grew up in my era knew that for a perv to make them a victim the perv had to find them first. When kids are widely scattered instead of gathered together it is harder for a predator to select a victim. The answer then is the counter-intuitive dispersal of children away from adults. If an adult is required to move children around, this becomes nearly impossible.
So, we need to get kids out of cars, and then we need a way to move them around in small groups or individually so that they aren't centralized for pedophile shopping convenience. If only there was some vehicle that a child could operate that they could use for the short trips that kids normally need to take, that could be used without adult supervision so that we didn't get kids forced into prolonged contact with a potential abuser… What miracle device could we use that would fit those criteria? And if it also got the kids some exercise in the process to combat the rising childhood obesity rate that would be a plus. But what? What miracle could we use that would allow kids to get around with having to have an adult present at all times? What vehicle can be operated legally by a child?
OK, OK I know, you know, and the preceding paragraph was mainly for the people that have no idea that a bicycle can be used as actual transportation, even for children. Impossible as it is to believe for some of us that read this blog, there are people that still think a bicycle is a toy for riding around a park, not a serious transportation tool.
The Dutch solution for the same problem we are having was to make bicycle infrastructure that even children understood and could use to get around with. The age range touted was 8-80, roads simple and safe enough for an 8 YO, and relaxed enough for an 80 YO. You can find out more by clicking the "Stop the Child Murder" link at the top of this post and reading the rest of the blog, or clicking the "View From the Cyclepath" link in the sidebar.
As a side benefit instead of making kids that don't know what to do with themselves who grow up into adults that don't know what to do with themselves, we get people capable of independent thought and action. People that know what to do without being told what to do, what a concept!