It appears that another childhood rite-of-passage is rolling toward slow extinction in neighborhoods across America. Ah training wheels, how little we knew you-especially after age 5, when in one terrifying afternoon, Dad ripped you off the back of the bike and sent us hurtling toward near death, shouting warnings about curbs, corners and cars. And now, according to the Wall Street Journal, you're about to be a thing of the past.
For those if you who haven't had the pleasure lately of (huff, huff) pushing your child down a street and hoping she avoids brain injuries, the pedal-less bike might seem like a strange idea. Isn't the whole point of biking to pedal your way around the neighborhood?
No, it is not. As European designers discovered a few years ago, the more crucial aspect of biking is learning how to balance, something that a forced reliance on training wheels actually made harder. Or as one pretty funny New Zealand designer who should maybe tailor her metaphors for her consumer puts it: "like trying to go cold turkey on a cocaine addict."
On the other hand, the distinctly un-cocaine-like pedal-ess bike, allows kids to push with their feet and balance for increasingly long stretches of time, building trust in their own sense of balance and control. Even better? Due to the more intuitive approach, kids can start at a younger age. And while the price isn't exactly cheap (some versions get into the hundreds), I'm thinking this Smart Gear number at $70 could do my boy and my budget right.
While there are some who will scoff at the whole idea of avoiding skinned knees and small-person anxiety (it's tradition, darn it!) the former design magazine editor in me is so excited about this, I can barely contain myself. Reinterpreting a classic! Re-envisioning function! Rethinking hurtling toward certain death! With my little person's birthday coming up and my favorite biking season around the corner, I can already see that it's going to be a lovely, less scraped-up fall.