Are Bikes Seen as Toys or Transportation?


By Charles Pekow — Is a bicycle seen as a toy or a means of transport for children? It depends on who answers the question according to Toy, Vehicle, or Equipment? Parent and Children’s Constructions of the Bicycle in Childhood, a study by Canadian university researchers.

“The bicycle is many things at once: it moves through space, it requires physical effort of the rider, and it is self-propelled. As an object, the bicycle has also held different meanings depending on the cultural, historical, and political context,” the researchers say.

A bicycle, seen as a fun toy by most children and many adults, but also recognized as a great tool or mode of transportation. Photo in the public domain.

They interviewed youth (aged 10-16) and parents in a small Canadian town. The kids saw the bicycle as a toy that helped them explore the world and do tricks (popping a wheelie, jumping). Parents acknowledged the fun their offspring was having but feared about safety and that children could go further from home unsupervised. But they also expressed pleasure about family rides (in which the children weren’t autonomous) and that bicycling gave their kids an escape from life’s strains.



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