Does any suburban primary and intermediate school child walk to school anymore, or are they all like the ones at my son's school and whizzing along on scooters?
I only noticed this phenomenon recently when, walking home with the kids after school one day, my ankles were grazed by three passing scooterists, all going like the clappers. These young kids were certainly deft at weaving in between prams, mothers, fellow students and various other footpath obstacles, but occasionally would come to grief when faced with other scooters going in the opposite direction. It makes for a very tangled, and occasionally perilous, walk home.
My son received a scooter a few years ago now but showed scant interest in it until he started school, whereupon it became obvious that he was indeed several years behind his classmates in scooter dexterity. Now, each morning, he insists on donning his helmet and sturdy shoes and loping to school on it. It's a cautious, stop-start ride at this point - but for how long?
Getting to school is one thing, but at this stage I have refused to bring his scooter to school for him to ride home. There are several reasons for this, chief amongst them being that with a baby in a pram and a preschooler protesting the walk every step of the way, I don't want to add to my load with a scooter. That puts me in the minority of Mt Eden mums, most who seem to lug one, two or even more scooters to the school gates for the beloved loin fruit. For me, at this unwieldy stage, it really would be the straw that broke this camel's back.
Secondly, many scooters go walking once they are put down. No doubt this is accidental as frequently as it is deliberate, as almost everyone has the same model and few appear to be labelled.
The other thing is, and I say this as a mother who probably is far too nervous about these things, I question how safe they are. We live on a main road and although we back extremely cautiously out our front gate, we are still having to employ the brakes on several occasions as a scooter rider whizzes by, seemingly oblivious to driveway traffic. Second only to losing my child in a driveway accident is my huge fear of injuring another child in such an accident. More than one of these encounters have left me shaking the whole day.
This weekend I was walking up Mt Eden while a father with two very young boys were scooting down, and from my vantage point I could see that the boys were on a collision course with a van that was backing out of a driveway with some momentum. Flailing my arms about and screeching, the father looked at me like I was completely mad and hopelessly neurotic (yes, I could discern that look from 50 metres away!) and while he did try and reign the boys back but there was no stopping them once they had picked up some speed. Luckily the boys and the van didn't collide, but it could have so easily happen - as one actually did outside the school recently.
So many children are injured and killed in driveways in New Zealand each year that we can only hope this new scooting craze - while great fun for the kids - doesn't create an even more gob-smackingly awful statistic.
_ NZ HERALD ONLINE