My older son, Ryan, is seven years old. I have been trying to develop his interest in riding bicycles, both because it's something I love to do and because I think it's something he could eventually be pretty good at it. Mostly, I think it's a great way to extend his horizons so he can explore more of his world.
So, we do a lot of family bike rides, probably three or four times a week all last summer. Most of those were pretty short, maybe just around the neighborhood or to the tire swing and treehouse about 2/3 of a mile away. I haven't been able to convince him to ride his bike to school yet, though. It's a longer ride, about two or three miles, pretty consistently uphill.
Recently, however, a local Boulder citizen started the Freikers (rhymes with "bikers", as in frequent bikers) program. The program offers prizes to kids to ride their bikes to school; the more they ride the cooler the prize. The riders tape a small RFID tag to their helmet and when they get to school, they just walk or ride their bike below a sensor that registers their participation that day.
Although Ryan showed a little interest in the program, he still balked at the possibility of riding all that way. But then he started seeing packs of kids riding by his bus stop on their way to school, and he saw all of the bikes in the bike racks (it's really amazing!), and realized that several of his classmates were riding.
So we finally all rode as a family to his school for the first time last Friday. It was definitely a little hard for him and we had to take it easy, but he did it, and he was very proud of himself. And I can't tell you how proud I was of him ...
I hope the Freikers program grows and spreads around the country, because it is so sorely needed, for so many reasons.