Friday 16 March 2012

Isn't it time we opened our eyes?

Take a look at this family. They are starting the day by having breakfast together.

Munching his cereal, Daddy pontificates that the community is falling apart around them, society's fabric is weakening and that it's a shame you don't know your neighbours any more. Then he gets up, walks a few steps out of the front door to his company car. It's time to go to work.

Something that makes sense
You are traffic
He drives off on the fast and busy road before reaching the rush hour jam: "This is rather annoying. I'll be late for work. Why can't they get the bus!"

Eight-year-old Laura is a bit hyper this morning: "Mum, I really want to cycle to school!" Mum says: "It's too dangerous, there are too many cars. Come on! Get ready, it's time to get you to school. Have you seen my car keys?"

On their way, they see a mother and child cycling along. Mum's really concerned about the safety of the child. "Irresponsible" she wispers to herself. "That's Ellie!" Laura screams and winds down the window "Hi Ellie - that's so cool!"

On her way back from the school run, Mum is wondering what the world would be like in a quiet, calm and safe neighbourhood: "Aah, with no cars, yes, you could let your children play outside" whilst she parks up the family car outside the house. Usually the street is pretty parked up and Mum's happy: "I am lucky today to get this spot so close by!"

Pedestrians choose your ally wisely
Beware Pedestrians
The doorbell rings. The neighbour - Ellie's mother - is stopping by for a cup of coffee. Mum's in a chatty mood: "Wouldn't it be cool to be this totally confident individual? Standing out! Just being different to the rest!" Ellie's mother suggest: "Why don't you dust down your bike and be different: get cycling?" Mum says "It's simply not normal. It's not what people do."

We all want to see our children grow up with freedom and independence. "Oh, is that the time?" - Mum just noticed. "I'll better pick Laura up from school." When she walks out, she shouts at the person cycling on the pavement "Get off the pavement". She drives along and yells at a cyclist on the road in front of her "Get off the road!" We all get stressed at times, especially when you have a child waiting at the school gates. Mum thinks "I will compensate by giving her some chocolate later on."

On his way home from work, Dad stops over at the outdoor gym for some exercise. Then he drives home.

Later they all jump in the car to take the dog for a walk. The local park was demolished last year to make way for a new development. "We should have joined the campaign to keep that park" Mum says when driving past. Dad replies "It's better not to make too many waves. I don't want to be seen as a treehugger. It might hurt my reputation at work, or worse still: Laura might get bullied about it."

Dad ends by thoughtfully adding "The future of my child is the most important thing in my life."

A totally normal family.


  1. This is exactly the kinds of things my work colleagues come out with from time to time. Somehow the connections just aren't made inside the brain.

  2. Katja, have you heard, it just to worse?

    Rod the dad lost his job last month and has had to take a worse paid one 20 miles further away. The family bought an over priced brown box next to a motorway junction in 2007 and can't move. 20% of family income goes on transport costs.

  3. Goes to show some people just don't see the bigger picture. If you aren't part of the solution chances are you are part of the precipitate :-) Sorry bad chemistry joke...chances are you are part of the problem!
    I'm rather fortunate in that we have recently moved to a nice quiet top end of a cul-de-sac so the kids CAN play outside, which includes riding their bikes :-) I think it was within a month of moving in that children 3 and 4 both mastered riding without stabilisers (on the same weekend, I could have burst with pride!)
    Since they I've had 3 of them with me on the London Skyride. As a keen cyclist myself we've never seen cycling as not normal and I frankly couldn't give a stuff what other people think, IMHO cycling IS cool and I get rather tired of people who expend so much energy trying to "fit in", where's the fun in that?

  4. Many thanks for your comments!

    The bigger picture... too big to be seen by many? The rose-tinted glasses skew the view?

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