In The Giver, nines were given bicycles. What did that signify for them?
As part of the Sameness that was the basis for all functions of the community, the raising of children was carefully controlled and structured for the good of the society. Very young children learned to cooperate and help each other because they all had jackets that buttoned in the back, for instance.
Acquiring a bicycle of ones own, when one becomes nine, was a recognition that the boy or girl had become old enough to be able to travel distances greater than walking distance by himself or herself. It was assumed that a nine-year-old was also old enough to be responsible for taking proper care of the bicycle, parking it properly and keeping it clean. Having a bike enabled the children to travel to more locations for their volunteer activities as they learned about different tasks that could indicate appropriate Assignments for them when they reached the Ceremony of Twelve.