Introducing children to bicycles is rewarding, but can be a dilemma for parents. Children probably shouldn’t be bicycling independently on the road before they’re about ten years old, and it is difficult finding places in Wellington that are good to practice the basic skills without running into obstacles (or being run into). And bicycles may not be seen as being as cool as the latest computer game…
If you’ve got a young person in the 3-8 year old range that you want to introduce to bicycling, you could do worse than take them to the 100 Bikes Project: Part 1 at the Dowse Gallery, Lower Hutt. Scott Eady has rescued 50 childrens bikes from dumps, back yards etc, and expertly restored them. In contrast to the “please do not touch the artwork” approach of most exhibitions, children are encouraged to take a bike for a spin around the gallery. Helmets and anti-nit hairnets are supplied.
If you don’t have a suitable child to accompany you, don’t worry – any bicycle addict will enjoy checking out the bikes, and admiring the effort and resources that have been put into the restoration: frames and components have been sandblasted and recoated, and rusty components replaced. As art, 100 bikes has plenty of antecedents, including Marcel Duchamp’s Roue de bicyclette.
I’m personally looking forward to Part 2, and hoping that the bikes will be adult-rideable!