Today I went for a ride along what must be Melbourne's quintessential weekend trundle route: the Anniversary Trail—it really is so very genteel. (I should make the time to take some photos next time I ride it because there are some quite beautiful spots along the trail.)
I was riding alone but almost everyone else was out with their kids: loaded up on rear seats, trail-a-bikes, and a squadron of various little BMXs. (I'm not joking when I say it was almost everyone else: I might have passed two couples riding without kids, and a small bunch of blokes on their way back from Carrum.) It really was family day.
And I think that's nothing short of fantastic—parents getting out and ~~indoctrinating~~ introducing their kids to bikes from a very early age. And not just as a plaything but as something that provides fun and healthy activity for the whole family—and maybe even family transport?
A few encounters gave me a laugh. On the way out, I passed a mum and three or four kids then dad out the front.
"Gorgeous day for it," I said as I went past.
"Yeah," agreed the dad, then added for my hearing only, "But it takes so bloody long to get anywhere!"
I think he was having a good time but envied my lack of encumbrance. Swings and roundabouts. I'll be in his position next time.
Lawyer in training
Then on the way back I saw four quite young kids on BMXs at a road crossing. They dutifully stopped and waited for a safe moment to cross and as I approached I heard the budding lawyer in the group pronounce:
"He said 'stop at the road', not 'wait at the road'" ('He' presumably being the responsible adult on the scene. Note to self: be specific in instructions to smart kids.)
They then made a perfectly safe crossing—I even heard one of them call a warning when a car appeared as they were halfway across. Very cool to see such good road awareness.
This makes me wonder at the necessity for the ridiculously tight barriers at every bloody road crossing on the Anniversary Trail—I've always thought that they represented a line of thinking that assumed cyclists are children. But when the children are as alert and sensible as these kids were, it does seem a bit pointless. Actually I've noticed a few of these barriers have been partially dismantled in recent times, which is a hopeful sign (if indeed this has been 'official' work!) But that's a rant for another day, perhaps.
One of the really good things about the Anniversary Trail is the linkage it provides between the Yarra Trail at Kew and the Gardiners Creek Trail at Ashburton; this makes it possible to ride a complete circuit on all three trails via the the Yarra-Gardiners Creek Trails junction in Toorak.
And it's also a good access route to head outwards on the Yarra Trail to the north or Gardiners Creek or Scotchmans Creek Trails to the south.
But don't overlook the Anniversary Trail as a complete ride in itself: it's the perfect place for a gentle weekend trundle.