15 April 2011

The World's Youngest Urbanist

Lulu Hardware Store Trip
Ah, out of the mouths of babes. Last Sunday I dropped Felix off at football training and then headed to a hardware store with Lulu-Sophia in the Bullitt. She's three and half. We talked as we rolled along, as we always do.

At a red light she looked over at a motorcyclist with a passenger on the back. She commented on it.

"Daddy... look. There's a motorcycle with TWO people on it!"

Daddy replied with "Yeah! I guess they're friends or something, aren't they?"

"Yeah." She thought about this for a moment.

"We're two people on this bicycle, too!"

"Yes, we are. We're friends, too."


The light changed green and we rolled onwards. What then came out of her little mouth and clever mind amazed me. She must have been looking around at the traffic after making her observations.

"When people are in cars, you can't see them, can you?"

"No, you can't", said Daddy. But you can see people on bicycles, can't you? And people walking and those people on that motorbike."

"Yeah... cars are silly, aren't they, Daddy? You can't see the people in them. That's silly..."

That made my heart sing. The world's youngest Urbanist. Right there on my bike. She's only three and a half so I haven't had chats with her about why bicycles are cool and safe and good or why too much car traffic is a bad thing for cities and safety and the public health - like I have with my 9 year old son. Although the time she has spent in cars in her three and a half years totals no more than five or six hours.

This was pure observation on her part. And a pure, logical, innocent and human conclusion.

Being able to see people around you in your city is... a good thing.

Cars are silly.


ED said...


tstreet said...

I think I'll cry.

Green Idea Factory said...

And if you are on a bike everyone can see that you went shopping for a new toilet seat.

ATX Bikette said...

Cars can make you into an awful person. I've seen people get into screaming matches over a parking spot.

And Green Idea Factory, I guess you should be glad your not a woman, then everyone could see your "feminine products". or put it in a bag.

shuichi said...

I think your child is always listening to and watching you while riding.^^ I am also often impressed by their behaviors. Thanks.

Sara said...

This story is why I want to have kids one day.

bikefish said...

When my daughter was a little younger than this, she would become very distressed riding in cars because the people passing on the street would not respond to her greetings. "Mom, why that man no HI me???" "He can't see you, honey - we're in a car!"
(hate to admit that I drove her around in a car back in the day - now she gets around sensibly, by bike)

Matthew Perren said...

You can't quack at the ducks in a car either.

When my oldest was that age she observed a man lighting a cigarette and asked, "why is that man setting fire to his head?"

Three year olds are brilliant.

Paul Martin said...

That's precisely how I view the automobile. It's a great invention, sure, but it has become impersonal, isolating and antisocial and it nutures these traits in its occupants...

Green Idea Factory said...

ATX: On the contrary, transparent consumerism is important, and one will also note that very few cargo bikes for personal use have locking lids: Henry Cutler of Workcycles mentions on his website that if someone takes groceries from your cargobike it probably just means they needed them.

But anyway it is quite amusing to see Germans cycling home from the store with huge "jumbo packs" of toilet paper awkwardly fastened to their rear racks or baskets.

ls said...

I really regret that I was not cycling when my kids were small, so much fun missed out on. Maybe I will get to be a grandad who cycles his grandkids to school. This story reminded me of this video, scream with me - http://vimeo.com/6524248?ab

Matias said...

nice, very nice and beautiful story!

FR said...

Yeah... truths from three year olds are great!

We do a lot of car sharing (getting larger shoppings home, visiting the grandparents in the countryside...), so for our daughter there were two types of cars:
- shared cars ("Teilautos" in German) and
- parked cars ("Parkautos").

Cars currently driving really make up a neglectible fraction don't they?