Jacob - A Big Brother's Editorial on
think that with the many sacrifices parents must make in
caring for a disabled child, activities like bike riding
would not be a major concern. Itís hard enough teaching a
disabled child in painstaking, time consuming methods what
other children might pick up instantly, so why make things
it isnít that simple. For many parents, biking has become an
activity that both they and their child can enjoy; but my
brother, Jesse, is 11 and has autism. Heís physically
capable, and, if the planet was deserted, he could ride a
two wheeler just as well as the next guy. However, once you
bring in people, cars and traffic laws, things get
complicated. Jesse doesnít understand much. He wouldnít be
able to acknowledge the danger of other vehicles, and he
certainly wouldnít be able to grasp the concept of stopping
at a stop sign or traffic light. Jesse has to share a bike
with someone a bit more competent.
sharing wasnít a problem when Jesse still fit in the childís
seat that sat on the back of my dadís bike. However, as he
got older and bigger, it became clear something else was
necessary. First, my dad bought a tag-along bike, which is a
normal bicycle minus the front wheel. It attached to the
back wheel of my dadís bike and allowed the two to ride
together. But, this solution was far from perfect. Because
my brother was behind my father, Jesse could get away with
not pedaling since my dad couldnít always see him. Jesse
also sometimes let go of the handlebars, putting himself at
risk. When my dad did look back to check on him, the two
sometimes crashed since my dad would not be looking ahead.
Then my dad
came across the Love Bike (now known as The Buddy Bike), a
tandem bicycle with two sets of handlebars in the front and
a backseat that is slightly more elevated than the front
seat. These two unique differences allow my father to sit
behind Jesse while still retaining control of the bikeís
steering. Jesse now looks out towards an open view,
unblocked by my fatherís back, and my father now interacts
with Jesse without risking a collision. Theyíve been riding
this way for two years, frequently riding as much as 18
miles a day, and they both love it.
purchased the patent for the Buddy Bike in 2005 and is
attempting to raise awareness of the Buddy Bikeís benefits
for both disabled children as well as those who enjoy riding
together with a parent. He is the managing member of Buddy
watched my father devote significant time to starting the
Buddy Bike business, and I sometimes wonder why he does it.
He must know that bike riding, though beneficial to Jesseís
physical health, will never cure Jesseís mental impairment.
Similarly, the bike wonít cure a child of Down syndrome,
hearing loss, or blindness. Why, then, does he put so much
work into it?
understands that by not letting my brotherís problem
interfere with this activity, heís assuring my brother that
heíll always be on his side, no matter what. Maybe, by
raising awareness of the bike, heís trying to get the world
to understand that there will always be ways of getting
around these large, burdening obstacles.
Or maybe he
just really likes bike riding, and doesnít think anyone
should have to give that up.