Last summer I started seeing something new on the local roads: Amish people riding bicycles were wearing reflective safety vests.
Although regular bicycles are not allowed in some Amish communities (such as Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where a scooter-type push bike is used instead), they are very popular in Amish Indiana. Even older citizens can often be seen riding them, and the buggy lanes along the sides of the main roads make it safer than it sounds. For short hops, a bicycle is more convenient than hitching up a horse and buggy!
Change is slow and rare in the Amish community, and it always piques my curiosity—so I asked my friend Ruth about them. She said that the vests are becoming more and more common in the Shipshewana area. Many of the older church members were hesitant—but the local authorities had a plan. They went into the local Amish schools and talked about the vests, and even passed some out to the kids. Naturally, the kids went home and spread the word to their parents and grandparents.
It’s a good safety feature, and when my two new stainless steel knees heal up this spring, I plan to use a safety vest myself, when riding on the streets. (Shipshewana/Middlebury also has an excellent seven-mile bike trail, which I’ve written about previously.) It just seems like the smart thing to do.