Crossing Guard Advocacy and The Joy of Cycling

Carol BarkerCarol Barker lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she enjoys bicycle commuting and joy riding year round.

She is a tutor and school crossing guard who shares her bicycle love and general rebellion against the wife-and-mom-of-suburbia stereotype at her blog.

It was the first thing I saw and the only thing I remember from that Christmas. Fire-engine red with a white seat, white-wall tires, and gummy white hand grips with red and white streamers, it rested shiny and proud under the tree with a bright red bow on its stem. I was four years old and had just received my first bicycle.

And I vividly remember the day I could ride it without training wheels. I felt like this kid!

Thumbs Up for Rock and Roll!
Thumbs Up for Rock and Roll! | Screengrab: YouTube user katdangers

But he can articulate better.

But I never saw my parents, or anyone elses parents for that matter, ride a bicycle when I was young. Bicycling was something that kids did, but not grownups. As we got older, most of my friends shunned their bicycles for cars.

Now, Im grown up. And I still happily (rebelliously?) ride a bicycle two of them actually. I also moonlight as a school crossing guard, and many of my customers are young bicycle commuters.

They ride up to my corner in the mornings, often looking sleepy and grumpy. But in the afternoons, theyre back and full of zest.

Carol Barker's Crosswalk
Carol Barker’s Crosswalk, Colorado Springs, Colo.

I know that pleasant feeling of fresh air on the skin and human powered speed after a day indoors. Their cheeks are rosy, their hair sticking out wildly from their helmets. And they’re smiling.

Some of them, most of them actually, will stop riding when they get their driver’s licenses. It’s what grownups do. This makes me a little sad as I see such contrast between them and the motorists who sit isolated and disengaged in their vehicles, inconvenienced at having to slow down and stop for 30 seconds to let school kids cross the street.

Carol Barker's CustomersSo what’s a crossing guard to do to exploit her position in the name of bicycle advocacy? Lecture them on childhood obesity? Talk up the price of gas these days? Somehow I don’t think either of those will do anything other than illicit blank stares or worse.

Thankfully, I do have a couple of young clients who show great promise for a future of bicycling. They ride up and want to show me their newest acquisitions, like new stunt pegs, or the latest sticker placed carefully on the frame. Sometimes they proudly show me the latest road rash. And I can see the passion in their eyes along with their rosy cheeks and their disheveled hair. If only we could put that feeling in a bottle.

They are lifers. Like me.

Post navigation