Kids riding bikes aren’t renegades or miscreants– officials should watch their language!

It’s summer 2021, and many of us are starting to emerge from isolation, social distancing, and sticking close to our own neighborhoods. In my neighborhood during the pandemic, the kids formed what I liked to call ” the small child mob” , but I admired and envied them. They ran around in all weather, masks on, looking for and finding fun. Usually that fun was conducted and narrated in booming outside voices. Fair enough– it’s not like I’m particularly soft-spoken either.

The exuberance and curiosity and need for novelty occasionally drove my kid-neighbors to activities that kind of crossed some lines; one day I saw some kids throwing sticks at my car… 🙂 Another day, they were gathering/purloining rocks from all of our yards, no doubt to erect a temple to the post-pandemic gods (that would’ve been my idea). But they were in just continuing the search for fun and distraction, as we all were.

I wrote this piece in 2019, arguing that we should praise kids on bikes, not censure them. Kids just gotta have fun, and so do we. As we all well know here in 2021. I hope you enjoy it.


In my little corner of the cycling world, we have a great organization called Mass Bike— they do the usual advocacy and education things related to biking, like lobby for more bike lanes in Boston, sponsor educational sessions on cycling, and host social events and volunteer opportunities. I’m a member and get their newsletter, which is informative if not compelling.

Except for this week. The executive director of Mass Bike, Galen Mook, responded to a recent Facebook post by the city of Springfield, MA about a “crackdown on renegade dirt bike and bicycle riders”. Here’s the post:

Post on FB from City of Springfield MA.
Post on FB from City of Springfield MA.

Galen highlights the use of inflammatory language in his letter this week:

The City uses phrases like “miscreant” and “negative individuals” to describe the riders, instead of calling the riders what they are, which are kids riding bikes. This is followed by the…

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