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  • Writer's pictureAthanasia Houvarda

World Bicycle Day

June 3rd is the world cycling day.. and with the words "cycling", the word "safety" comes to mind and this combination brings back a memory from a few decades ago.

I was around nine years old, living in a quiet, children friendly neighbourhood in Thessaloniki, Greece. I loved my neighbourhood. I have beautiful childhood memories from there.

Summer time was our favorite season, because every day at the end of "siesta" hours in Greece you could hear the children's voices getting louder and louder by the minute. We had a silent agreement. All the children in the neighbourhood, would gather on the street to play games until the sun went down around 9pm. We would play all sort of different games, from hide and seek, to jumping ropes, dodge ball, peace or war, ride our bicycles or just sit in a circle and share stories. And the beauty of it was that age didn't matter. We were all one large lively group. Some days we could reach 15 to 20 children.

The neighbourhood wasn't really busy with traffic and the few vehicles that would occasionally drive by, would be of the people that lived on that street and possibly had their children playing with us, so they were extra careful. But accidents could still happen.. and on one summer day, I was the victim!

The street we were playing had a downhill part and I was playing with my girl friends on the side of the street, right were the the downhill part was ending. I had my back turned when suddenly I heard a boy yelling "Naaaaaaaaasia" with a slight terror to his voice!

I turned around with no second thought and to my surprise I saw my brother, my only brother, older by two years looking at me with his big blue eyes, terrified! Before I knew it I was on the ground, in excruciating pain, trying to get my head around to what just hit me.

I still remember the pain to this day. Scratches on my knees and elbows.. the taste of blood in my mouth made my mom who was watching us from the balcony of our appartment on the first floor of the building , to literally fly down the stairs and on the street to check how I am. I was okay. A few bruises and scratches on my body and lips instantly swollen like a balloon where the result of the impact. My brother was riding his bicycle and for some unknown reason, he couldn't stop the bicycle and with force came directly at me, hit me and then stopped a few meters down the road.

The memory of my full blown up purple lips that were the cause of some name calling for the next few days, along with the scratches on my knees gave me some physical pain and emotional pain. Children some times can be very creative with name calling.

About a week later, everything was back to normal like nothing had happened and the impact was a long distant memory.. to the rest of the group. Obviously not to me as I still remember it. But I also vividly remember my dad , sitting us both me and my brother in the living room, giving us, what we thought at the time, a lecture on safety.

  • A bicycle is a vehicle and you're a driver...

  • Be responsible...

  • Be Predictable...

  • Stay Alert at All Times...

  • Don't speed...

  • Check your breaks...

  • Check the air pressure in your tires...

  • Watch out for pedestrians, older people and children playing...

  • Watch for Parked Cars because they don't see you!

and a few more instructions that he repeated a few times to make sure we understood.

Luckily, nothing worse happened on that day. Although it was a considerable strong impact that had me landing on the ground very close to the sidewalk, I was lucky to get away with just a few scratches and a bruised ego.

Be aware of the children riding bicycles, And for parents, teach them how to stay safe and together enjoy the world Cycling Day.

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