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  #1  
Old 6th September 2011, 04:49 PM
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It's not safe for a kid to ride a bike anymore...

What have we done to ourselves?

I read a story today about a little 10 year-old girl in Elizabethton, Tennessee. This little girl was riding her bicycle down a relatively quiet residential street to school one morning when she was stopped by a police officer who felt that it wasn't safe for her to be riding her bicycle to school. The officer took the girl home and explained to the mother that he felt the bicycling was unsafe. He informed the mother that he'd be speaking with CPS about the issue, but that until that had been resolved it would be considered child neglect on the part of the mother for the daughter to continue riding her bicycle to school.

Andy Clarke, the President of the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), commented that "is a frustrating story with no obvious winners and lots of people left feeling aggrieved. The basic principle that it really should be... perfectly reasonable for a capable 10-year old to ride her bike to school on local streets is in danger of getting lost."

I'm very sympathetic to the officer's plight. He has a responsibility to promote public safety. When he sees this little girl doing something that appears quite dangerous, he should do what he can to try to make sure the child grows up in a safe environment. I'm also very sympathetic to the mother and her daughter. Why shouldn't a 10-year old girl be able to ride her bicycle to school on quiet residential streets? What's wrong with our society that a young kid can't safely ride her bicycle to school nowadays?

The biggest problem is how wholly enmeshed in car culture we've become. Some communities (mostly older communities) have walkable and bicycle-friendly infrastructure. They have sidewalks. They have grid-style street networks that allow cyclists to choose routes that aren't as heavily driven Suburban arterial-surface street networks are a cycling nightmare because they force you to ride on streets poorly designed for cycling (accidents, particularly bad accidents, are more common here) and they're designed to increase traveling speed for cars even if that means the route is substantially longer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

As a society we've chosen to invest in infrastructure that is bad for everybody but automobile users. It's no longer safe for a 10-year old girl to ride her bicycle to school. The days of Theodore Cleaver riding his bike to school are dead. We've completely abandoned the world our fathers gave to us: a world that gave us great freedom and many worthwhile experiences as children. We've replaced it with a world that gratifies every desire that you and I have, even though it ruins the lives of many other people who don't have a voice in our society. Oh and did I mention that our brave new society makes us obese? What a bargain!



So much for the good old days.
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  #2  
Old 6th September 2011, 05:28 PM
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Last edited by Saving Hawaii; 6th September 2011 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 6th September 2011, 05:54 PM
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Wow one example of a kid not riding their bike to school and the reminiscing of the good ol' days begins. Amazing. And you are what, 24? What good old days did you live through again?
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Old 6th September 2011, 06:22 PM
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I can see where the policeman was coming from, but still....it would be nice if she could ride the bike home from school.
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  #5  
Old 6th September 2011, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Paulos23 View Post
I can see where the policeman was coming from, but still....it would be nice if she could ride the bike home from school.
I agree. I totally understand where the policeman is coming from. He's acting to help make sure the kid is safe. I also understand where the mother is coming from. She wants her kid to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle. Sedentary lifestyles have become the #1 killer in this country you know, they've finally managed to surpass smoking as the primary cause of death for Americans.

Both the police officer and the mother are doing the right thing. The wrong here is being done by society. We've built this town (like many others) in such a way that a healthy, active lifestyle isn't a safe lifestyle. It's not safe for a kid to ride his bike to school anymore. That's the world we apparently want to live in. I don't know why.

My town recently built a tunnel under one of the busiest streets in town for use by bicyclists and pedestrians. It was funded largely with a federal grant to ensure that children can safely get to school and it's used heavily for that purpose. The local Tea Partiers have lambasted this small tunnel as a tremendous waste, but I ask: Is it my fault that their kids are sitting on their behinds all day, getting fat? Why should my child have to risk life and limb just to live a healthy life?
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  #6  
Old 6th September 2011, 07:16 PM
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What's wrong with our society that a young kid can't safely ride her bicycle to school nowadays?
Legitimizing the Nanny State sure doesn't help...

"I'm very sympathetic to the officer's plight. He has a responsibility to promote public safety. When he sees this little girl doing something that appears quite dangerous he should do what he can to try to make sure the child grows up in a safe environment. "
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  #7  
Old 6th September 2011, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Blackguard_ View Post
Legitimizing the Nanny State sure doesn't help...

"I'm very sympathetic to the officer's plight. He has a responsibility to promote public safety. When he sees this little girl doing something that appears quite dangerous he should do what he can to try to make sure the child grows up in a safe environment. "
That the officer stopped the child and expressed his concerns about the little girl's safety doesn't change the fact that the only available route to the girl's school is dangerous.

The problem lies in the fact that we have built our town and cities in such a way that the only safe way to travel is by car. We live in a culture that is careless towards the lives and well-being of those people (many of them children) that choose another form of transportation. Many neighborhoods (my current one included) have encouraged cyclists and pedestrians, but most have condemned anybody who doesn't want to swear an oath of fealty to the car culture.

So much for the days of Leave It To Beaver...
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  #8  
Old 6th September 2011, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Self Improvement View Post
Wow one example of a kid not riding their bike to school and the reminiscing of the good ol' days begins. Amazing. And you are what, 24? What good old days did you live through again?
Hah, the classic "us old curmudgeons know better" argument.

I grew up in a neighborhood that was largely built to provide housing to Boeing factory workers building B-17s during the war years. Many of the older homes are small, simple, cheap places. The home my parents bought was somewhat newer but fit in with the old neighborhood. When I was in middle school I generally rode my bicycle to and from school. It was possible to do that because I could use some roads that weren't heavily traveled and I only had to cross a couple busy streets. Since then the population in my old neighborhood has nearly doubled and there have been virtually zero improvements in the transportation infrastructure. The streets are now perpetually day and night clogged with traffics. What used to be quite side-streets are now busy avenues. It's a nightmare. The city council got bought out by real estate developers who convinced them to allow insane amounts of new housing without having to pay to improve the roads, sidewalks, or anything. Today it's not safe for my younger siblings to ride a bicycle home from the middle school I went to. The quiet streets I used to ride on are now busy with traffic and helicopter parents are far more common now (they're probably the greatest hazard to a kid that wants to ride his bike to school).

I'm young and I'm often raw with inexperience but at least this change I have seen in my life.
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  #9  
Old 6th September 2011, 07:43 PM
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I don't know if I agree that the officer was in the right here, based on the details you have given. I don't think "a relatively quiet residential street" is dangerous to ride a bike down. I guess I just don't agree with your premise. Walking, driving, riding a bike, etc. are all potentially dangerous.

However, I find that involving CPS and potentially charging the mother with child neglect is incredibly irresponsible and damaging to both the mother and the child.

Bicyclists 15 and under killed: 93. Injured: 13,000
Bicycle Helmet Statistics

Bicycling in the US is not "dangerous".

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S.
CDC - Motor Vehicle Safety

Riding in cars is. This cop would be better served spending his time pulling over, without cause, every parent and threatening them with child neglect charges and CPS calls for driving their kids to school, given his outlook on life.
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  #10  
Old 6th September 2011, 07:55 PM
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Elizabethton, Tennessee

Population (2010) - 14,176


Dangerous? Ummm -they're kidding right? Thats a tiny country town for goodness sake.

I rode to school in a city of 3,500,000+ people for many years and somehow survived. As did all my friends.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.
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