Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

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Bicycles in Amish Country

Those who have read my book, Bonnet Strings, know how much I longed to ride a bicycle when I was in my early twenties. I knew that some other Amish communities allowed them, and I wished so much that they would change that rule of the Ordnung. But they didn't. We lived with the double standard that we could only ride bicycles when we were on trips, but not at home.

It never once occurred to me that if the bishops of the community were to lift the ban on bicyles, there would be issues of safety on the roads in our area.

This is exactly what happened in Daviess County, Kentucky, and in Daviess County, Indiana. Believe me, I checked and these reports really are coming from two different states, both in Daviess County. I thought for certain I was mistaking this until I did a thorough check on which states each story was reporting from.

Update: The verdict is in from several of you and I think now that it's true: This must be the same story, and this is really only happening in Indiana. I just cannot figure out why it was published in Kentucky.

So allowing bicyles into an Amish community has unintended consequences I never thought of. It is different for those Amish communities who have been allowing them, because youngsters learn to ride when they are children, and they learn road safety (hopefully) before they go out on the road with their bicyles. When there is an influx of new riders who are not yet stable on their bikes taking to the roads, it can definitely cause safety issues.

Sometimes if one community starts something new, others will follow. This could mean there will be more communities allowing bicyles in the future. I hope they will learn from these first ones to have someone teach their young people bicyle safety before allowing them out on busy public roads.

I wonder what unintended consequences there would be if the Amish suddenly allowed their young people an education beyond the eighth grade?

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