Another trip out to the bigmetalbox shops in the suburbs to buy DIY supplies... nothing provided to chain up the Yuba Mundo of course. But I suppose I was the only cyclist for miles.
I was on the way back from buying pots of paint for the house, minding my own business, trying not to get killed on the road by white vans and blind OAPs behind the wheel, when a Police motorcycle pulled up alongside me. The cop looked at me with his Robocop helmet and I wondered what I had done. But he didn't point for me to pull over, he just looked at me as we sped along at 17 km/h... I thought, this is strange but maby he likes bikes too and he's checking out the Yuba. So I gave him a smile as I reckoned that I probably wouldn't be able to out run his BMW motorbike. He smiled back, sort of.. then I noticed all the people behind us.
It was a class of 25 kids out in school time on a bike ride round the block. Wow. I stopped to watch them go by, lose the cop, and take some photos. It was quite the convoy. 2 elderly lady teachers infront in a little blue lead car (hazard lights on), 25 chatting kiddies on bikes, 1 cycling male teacher shouting constantly trying to keep control, and a motorcycle cop escort to stop people driving through the group of 25 kiddies (Despite the best efforts of a Audi A3 driver). Is cycling on the road such a dangerous activity that it needs a cop and car escort... ?!? It is not as if it was a busy stretch of road or anything. I think though that this is a demonstration of people's fear of letting kids out of the ever incroaching cocoon, the fear of cycling, and the general bending over to automobile absolute rule of the road. A friend of mine told me this weekend how he was hooted off the road on a Sunday morning family ride by an old woman who shouted from her car window that he had no place to be out on the road. This in a backwater village... What I saw today was a private school activity I believe, and I am sure alot of kids these days never learn to ride a bike on the road, and what was my first taste of freedom 25 years ago as a 12 year old is now considered impossible by most parents. What struck me too, and what saddens me every time I pick my kids up from school too, was the number of seriously overweight kids huffing along on their bikes. I look back to photos of me at that age, when I had to cycle 15 miles a day for school, and even my kids who cycle too, and the difference is shocking.