Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reasons to let your child ride to school

I just checked my email and found I had received an email inviting me to share an article with my readers. I read the title of the article quickly and then re-read it because I thought I must have read it wrong, then I thought it must be some sort of play on words and clicked the link to read it. The title is "10 Reasons to Not Let Your Child Ride His Bike to School". 

I read the article and found it contained what I would consider common-sense notions mixed with a dash of fear-mongering. Obviously, as parents we all have to know our children and their limits, we want to protect them, but it's a fine line to know how we should both guard them against imminent and possible dangers, whilst encouraging them to be confident and outgoing in the world.

If you want to read the article here is the LINK. I encourage you to make up your own mind, but also to consider the possibility that rather than accept the possible fears of a capable child riding to school, we fight to make those fears unfounded. 

By example, I must mention my friend Sarah, here in Bristol. When walking to school with her children and other parents she felt intimidated and rightfully so, by large semi-articulated lorries/trucks from a local company that would drive the narrow streets at excessive speed but within the limits allowed by law. Rather than decide to drive to school or walk a longer and less convenient route, Sarah contacted the companies that owned the offending semis and asked them to consider the safety of children walking to school and lower their speeds. As a result of Sarah's work, the companies announced that they would enforce their own speed limit, to all their drivers within the company in any roads leading to the primary school. 

As parents I feel it is our duty to challenge what is acceptable by law and question the social norm. Rather than saying "It's not safe for my child to walk or ride to school", let us question why isn't it safe for my child to walk or ride to school? 

I have heard of cases where parents have been fined for letting a child walk or cycle to school and in some places children are simply not allowed to arrive at school on foot. What kind of a ridiculous world do we live in where these judgements are not challenged? If a road is not safe enough for a capable child to ride to school in a competent manner, then the fault lies not with the child, nor with the child's parents, but with the officials residing over that area for not enforcing a persons right to access public roads. Obviously I'm not saying parents should let any child cycle on any road. We should utilize common sense to ensure their safety, but we should also question the world's problems and try to fix the fixable.

Anyway, that is my tangent for the day, always happy to share! What is your opinion?



I responded as below:


Thank you for your email, I honestly find the tone of the article to not be of my own mind and therefore wouldn't be able to post it on my blog. It shows cycling in a mindset of fear and bicycles are not scary. Children manage to ride to school all over the world with the assistance of their parents or without, as common sense dictates. Rather than installing fear, I would encourage parents to ride with their children and enjoy the added family time, health and safety over riding in a car which is statistically more dangerous- that would be an article I would be happy to post.



  1. Much of the "don't let your child walk to school" stuff falls under the "blame the victim" banner. Such restrictions totally fail to address the reason for the problem. They are, at best, bandages on large slashes--fixes not solutions.

    I go the same direction when people tell me it's dangerous to ride a bike on the road as part of traffic. My first response is, "Address why it's dangerous! The cause of the danger is not my presence, but idiocy behind the wheels of many cars."

    1. Exactly Bikeolounger- It's like people are so accustomed to motor vehicle deaths that they are numb to it, it's like a calculated risk that people are willing to take with their loved ones.

      I really wouldn't ever want another car, but Kyle isn't as sold on the car free lifestyle as I am.

      when you think of the billions of dollars spent by car companies telling us how cool we are behind a wheel its really no wonder people have a hard time breaking free of the mindset.


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