Monday, 25 October 2021

Riding your bike in the street

and thus to school was one of the things that we looked forward to when I was a kitten. 

Of course, having lived in the country for the first five years of my life, I had been tearing around on a tricycle ever since I had managed to learn to ride one. Every other child I knew was the same. We all had "dinkies" - small tricycles with a tray at the back. There were no bikes for the under-fives at that time. 

We rode our tricycles all over the little community in which we lived.  It didn't matter if we were out of our mother's sight because everyone knew everyone and that meant they knew us. We knew them too. We usually behaved. If we didn't word would get back to our parents. I remember the neighbour's small boy running his wheels into the knees of an elderly woman. He stood there white-faced. She had not been hurt but he knew that unless he apologised immediately his father would give him a "walloping" that night. From memory the woman's response was to scold him for "not looking" and then to accept his apology. I doubt he was punished again. All of just knew what the consequences of bad behaviour would be. 

The good thing was that we could roam without close adult supervision. We crossed roads, including what is now a very busy main road. Back then it was not nearly as busy. There were cars. We had been taught to look for them. We lined up like ducklings behind the Irish boy who lived directly opposite. When there was no car in sight he would give the command and we would race across the road. From there we went down the side road to the railway station or on to the closest farm. We went to the general store for our mothers, to the butcher and to the tiny bakery. We went to the churchyards and over the little bridge to the high school. 

Here the children are confined to racing up and down the footpath while their parents watch. There is still the ever present danger of at least two residents backing out without taking sufficient care for pedestrian and pedalling traffic. My immediate neighbour on one side objects to the children riding along the footpaths at all. His own grandchildren "would never be allowed to do something like that". Oh? Really? 

It's a risk the parents have decided to take. If I am around and have a few minutes I will help. "Play policeman!" the children will tell me. The really sad thing in all this though is that there is also what is known as "the court". This is the group of units almost directly opposite our house. There is a long "driveway" which leads to it. It ends in a key hole shape. The speed limit is 5km hour. The letter boxes are at the far end of it, next to the first of the units. The postman/woman goes down the driveway to deliver but the children are not allowed to ride there.  

All this comes down to one woman who lives in one of the units. She has never married. She doesn't like children. "They're noisy. You never know what they are going to get up to." She claims the long driveway is private property.

But there are suddenly more children in the street. There are some living in the units in the court itself. They want to be able to ride there too. She is objecting to that as well.

I foresee trouble. Today I need to check on whether the "driveway" is private property or an access road. It would be good if it was an access road. The parents and I can take it turns to watch much more easily and safely from there.  

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