Bumper Car Craziness

Hi Readers! A question for you:

Q: When is a bumper car NOT a bumper car?

A: When you are no longer allowed to bump it.

Such is the case in England right now, where three amusement parks have banned bumper car bumping, and insist that patrons who climb into the cars drive them slowly and use them only for “dodging” each other.

I’m sure you can (LAWYERS LAWYERS LAWYERS) guess why. And as this Telegraph article says: It is probably only a matter of time before the cars come equipped with airbags too. Or maybe a lawyer just rides alongside you. — Lenore

An amusement park (Coney Island) from back when amusing was not a crime.

Stories Needed: How Do Kids Get To/From School in YOUR Town? (Wackiness Appreciated)

Hi Readers! I’m about to write a column on how kids are getting to school — with a plea for more walking or biking, when possible — and for this I need stories of kids get to school in your neighborhood. For instance, I heard from my friend that her nieces are driven by GOLF CART two blocks to the bus stop in their GATED COMMUNITY. This seemed a bit, shall we say, ridiculous. The kids are able-bodied! The community is gated! The distance is two blocks! But the mom thinks the walk is just “too risky.”

I also heard of a school in Florida where dismissal works like this: The cars line up, single file, outside the school where there are NO children outside. As a car reaches the front of the line, a school aide reads the name on the dashboard plaque issued by the school and barks into her walkie talkie, “Jeremy’s mom is here!”  At which point someone inside the school shouts, “Jeremy! Your mom is here!” And Jeremy is ESCORTED OUT to the waiting car — like an unpopular dictator being hustled into his limo.  Jeremy’s mom careens off and the process begins again, with the next car and kid. Dismissal takes half an hour.

And, finally, if this is happening in your neighborhood, I would love to hear about it:  Is it hearsay or the truth that in some school districts, the bus no longer stops at bus stops but now actually stops at each child’s home? And that some parents drive the child from the garage down to the sidewalk in front of their house to wait?

Please tell me what strange new things are happening in your neighborhood, vis a vis getting to school, including whether kids are even ALLOWED by the school to bike or walk. Thanks!

A Boy, A Dream, A…Bucking Bull?

Hi Readers: Just had to pass along this story. I’m Free-Range all the way —  well, most of the way — but sure am glad we live in New York City. Not a tempting bull in sight (even on Wall Street these days!).  — L.

Good News! About A Girl & A Bike!

Sometimes, things go the RIGHT way.  Here’s a story about a girl who wondered why she couldn’t bike to school. When her mom told her it was because the city needed sidewalks, she got to work!

Free-Range Signs of Life?

Hi Readers!
A magazine reporter is looking for stories of Free-Range concepts being put into practice in real life. Schools insisting on adding back recess. Districts encouraging kids to walk or ride  to class. Neighborhoods bringing kids back outside, on their own, communities informally agreeing to tone down the oppulence of the birthday parties. Happy, hopeful signs of a tide turning toward less over-the-top, helicopter parenting toward a more old-fashioned, less parent- (and money-) intensive version of childhood.

We’d ALL love to hear these stories. Please — give us hope! Thanks — Lenore