Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood would have turned 85 today. Somehow I think I appreciate him more as an adult than I ever did as a kid.
As a child, I thought his show was really boring. If I ever watched it, it was by process of elimination. And when Trolley went to The Neighborhood of Make-Believe, I totally checked out. Might as well go play outside than watch this puppet crap.
But one of the recurring characters rode a bicycle to work — for work. The awkward Mr. McFeely, whose catchphrase was “Speedy Delivery!”
Mr. Rogers was pals with a bike messenger! Maybe he even had tattoos under those sleeves. McFeely didn’t use a bike messenger bag; he was old school.
But I had a helluva time finding a photo of Fred Rogers himself on a bike. In fact, I had to watch this episode of Mr. Rogers on Amazon.com to be able to grab this screen shot:
But now I can appreciate the calm civility of Fred Rogers. It’s a characteristic I strive, and often fail, to achieve. It’s a characteristic I admire most in some of my closest friends.
I think I’m more of the target audience for Mr. Rogers now than when I was six.
In 1969, when Rogers was still relatively unknown, he testified before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications — and single-handedly saved PBS from the severe cuts proposed by Nixon.
Imagine the power of Fred Rogers as a bike advocate. If I could only have channeled him when I visited Congress a couple of weeks ago at the National Bike Summit.
(If only I believed in channeling.)
When I watched the opening and closing credits of the TV show, I was looking at the neighborhood infrastructure of the miniature model. I was imagining bike lanes, and curb extensions to make the neighborhood more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.
Then I discovered that you can go to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood Website and actually build your own neighborhood.
I’ll repeat myself: I’m more of the target audience for Mr. Rogers now than when I was six.
Rogers’ TV neighborhood was based on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It turns out that Pittsburgh is several steps ahead of me. The city as become increasingly bike-friendly in the ten years since Rogers’ death, and plans to spend up to $135,000 this year to become even more so.
I suppose I can get back to focusing on my own neighborhood.
My participation in this years’ National Bike Summit was made possible by these sponsors.