Bubbleboy bikes – or not

Parked Bike ©Cristian Nitu Dreamstime

California is big on all things green. Fine by me, I grew up that way, recycling, turning off the lights in rooms I am not in, conserving water, riding my bike.
My son’s school is a mile away. My son loves his bike and wants to take it to school. That’s fine, school encourages it, there are walk/bike-to-school days and a special enclosed bike/scooter parking area. And since so few people take advantage of it those who do are well-known. In a school of 1,500 kids the principal greets mine by name and makes a comment about his scooter.

All’s good, right? Not so fast. After school my boy goes to an after-school which is about 1.5 miles away. The ideal scenario would play out like that: dad takes son to school with the bike, mom hops on hers at 2:25 pm and picks up junior at school.   Mom and son ride bike to after-school. Bike gets parked, mom rides home and adds 15 minutes biking to her daily calorie log (60 calories burned!).   Son and bike get picked up later by mom or dad.

The reality is slightly different:  after-school does not allow kids to bring, use, or even park their bikes/scooters on the premises. Why you ask. So did I. The answer: if one brings a bike, all will want to bring a bike and we have no room for all the bikes so they would stand around everywhere and it would be too dangerous.
The school has ample free space to park bikes. Most kids are pre-schoolers who traditionally do not ride bikes to school. The after-school program has maybe 50 kids. My guess would be that about 2 or 3 tops would come by bike – occasionally.

Naive as I sometimes am, I wanted to have a rational discussion about this topic. “Look” I said “He isn’t bringing his bike as a toy. It is a means of transportation. He will not bring it into class and will not play with it during the time he is here. We just need to be able to park it somewhere safe.”
“I can not allow that. We can not have bikes on the school grounds. It is too dangerous.”
Me: “Sorry, I think you don’t understand what I mean. We are riding our bikes here from school and need a place to park it.”
“You’ll have to take it with you when you leave.”
Me, puzzled: “I am coming by bike as well. How am I supposed to take his bike back with me on my bike??”
” I can’t tell you how to do that but you can’t leave his bike here. He can bring it for ‘bring-your-bike-to-school-days’ twice a year.”

We went though several rounds of this over the next two weeks. I just couldn’t believe it. I thought I must have somehow misunderstood. My English is good, but maybe,  I missed the critical part. The part where she says: “he can’t bring the bike inside and ride it around on the carpet but other than that there is really no problem.” But I didn’t. She meant it. Parked and locked bikes are dangerous and as such forbidden on the grounds of my child’s after-school. Damn the CO2 emissions and the health benefits from physical exercise. It all pales in comparison to the huge danger a parked bike poses to kids who never, ever walk the school grounds unattended anyway.

Now, my son takes his scooter to school. I pick him up by car, stuff both child and scooter in, drive him to after-school and take the scooter home. He can’t ride his bike anymore. My car is too small, I cannot fit both him and the bike in.

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