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It's not safe for a kid to ride a bike anymore...

Discussion in 'News & Current Events' started by Saving Hawaii, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. Saving Hawaii

    Saving Hawaii New Member

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    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!

    [​IMG]

    So much for the good old days.
     
  2. Saving Hawaii

    Saving Hawaii New Member

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    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  3. Self Improvement

    Self Improvement New Member

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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?
     
    united4Peace likes this.
  4. Paulos23

    Paulos23 part of the Rebel Alliance

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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.
     
  5. Saving Hawaii

    Saving Hawaii New Member

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    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?
     
  6. Blackguard_

    Blackguard_ Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

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    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. "
     
  7. Saving Hawaii

    Saving Hawaii New Member

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    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...
     
  8. Saving Hawaii

    Saving Hawaii New Member

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    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.
     
  9. Cute Tink

    Cute Tink Whatever

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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.

    Bicycle Helmet Statistics

    Bicycling in the US is not "dangerous".

    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.
     
  10. Trogdor the Burninator

    Trogdor the Burninator Senior Veteran

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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.
     
  11. Saving Hawaii

    Saving Hawaii New Member

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    Citing statistics without the least amount of analysis of possible problems with your argument is ignorance at best. Incidence per mile traveled would be a great statistic which unfortunately isn't available because "mile traveled" data isn't readily available or even easily estimable for cyclists (though it is pretty well known for automobile users). There are far, far fewer miles traveled by cyclists than miles traveled by automobile users. It shouldn't be a surprise that total fatalities are higher for the latter, even if the relative risk per mile traveled is higher for the former. Cycling is almost certainly somewhat riskier than driving in our current day in age, if only because reckless drivers are a huge hazard to cyclists. In a way car culture encourages itself: drivers routinely and accidentally inflict tremendous damage on others. Many people buy cars with "safety" in mind. They want protection in case they or somebody else screws up. The car takes most of the damage, the passenger doesn't. Cyclists don't have that luxury and the ever-increasing abundance of cars on the road is an ever-increasing danger to cyclists. This activity isn't nearly as safe as it was half a century ago.

    My gut judgment is that the officer is probably wrong... even given the (very minor) risks of cycling, the parent is probably right to encourage her child to live a healthy and active lifestyle and that this far outweighs the risks of cycling. Virtually anything you can do to make yourself healthier from running on a treadmill to extreme sports increases your risk of injury, but it's a good idea to do these things (maybe not some extreme sports) anyways because the health benefits improve our quality of life and prevent health problems. The officer is well-intentioned but probably wrong.

    My real problem here is not with the officer or the mother. My problem is with the fact that we've built towns and cities like Elizabethton where it simply isn't safe for a kid to ride a bicycle anymore. This is one of the simple pleasures I enjoyed when I was growing up and that my parents enjoyed as well. But my children won't be able to enjoy it because the adults of my generation (and my parent's generation) have decided that the world revolves around them, car culture at the expense of all else. That upsets me.
     
    united4Peace likes this.
  12. united4Peace

    united4Peace Contributor

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    Well...gee...our youngest was biking right in front of the house one day (literally speaking...right in front) and he broke his arm. I wonder if we were neglectful for letting him build a ramp? Gosh kids need to live...
    We had a guest speaker come to our school and he was saying how people are having their kids live in a bubble, as the world is actually safer than it ever was!
    My kids were walking/biking (depending on weather) to school since gr 1. Now they walk all over. Id probably get charged in that town as I let the kids stay out tell midnight and walk home one night a year (as long as I can text them)...
     
  13. AceHero

    AceHero Veteran

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    Studies have actually shown that pre-war neighborhoods are safer than post-war suburbs because they have more connectivity and the streets are narrower. So much for suburbia being a safe place to live.

    The far right hates infrastructure unless it involves the automobile. Spending money on public transportation, bicycling, and sidewalks are wastes of taxpayer money, while highways are public investment. Such a double standard.

    I live in a neighborhood that is very walkable and where bicycles are often seen going down the street. It also has frequent bus service. There's a new neighborhood currently being built that will have much of the same amenities, but of course that's an anomaly. In America, anything identified as "urban" is still seen as something negative.
     
  14. Cute Tink

    Cute Tink Whatever

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    All of which is irrelevant to this discussion, since you did not give us the distance the girl would have had to travel.

    In the end, yes, cars are driven more than bikes are ridden, but the numbers are the numbers. To argue that bicycle riding is more dangerous than riding in a car when far, far, far, far more children are killed in cars than on bikes is nothing short of ridiculous. I cannot get behind your position on this topic.

    I have to disagree. The officer is not well-intentioned. The officer is over-reacting and has some random agenda that he gets to enforce because of his position of power and blatantly abusing his authority.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
  15. Supreme

    Supreme Moderator Staff Member Moderator Staff on LOA

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    The officer was in the wrong. There are far better uses of his time than this. A safe street, even one without pavements, shouldn't be a hassle to the girl riding her bike.

    I don't think we've completely adapted to car transport. Bicycle usage in London is increasing, and this is about as big and busy a city as you can find.
     
  16. Psudopod

    Psudopod Godspeed, Spacebat

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    The numbers are important, and you can't just compare the figures of numbers killed/ injured.

    If 5000 cyclists are killed a year and 10000 car passagers, is being in a car twice as dangerous as being on a bike? You might say that if you were just comparing the base numbers. However if you found that annually there were 10000 user-miles for cyclists compared to 1000000 user-miles for car passengers, then it becomes obvious that the cycling is 5 times more likely to leave you dead.

    There's a real problem with people evaluating risk, and part of it is not knowing the difference between relative and absolute risk.
     
  17. Cute Tink

    Cute Tink Whatever

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    I agree as far as that goes, but when you are comparing "Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S." to "630 bicyclists died on US roads in 2009 (718 in 2008, 1,003 in 1975) 74 were 14 or younger, a reduction of 58 per cent from the 178 killed in 2000", I think the numbers themselves DO speak for themselves. Leading cause compared to 74 - a number which is falling.

    There is a more serious problem - a disagreement between a mother and an officer of the law in evaluating that risk and that officer abusing his authority by having the mother investigated for a serious crime based on his opinion of the situation alone.
     
  18. Saving Hawaii

    Saving Hawaii New Member

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    I just called CPS... they're on their way.

    I agree! The world isn't as safe as it ever was in every respect, but I suspect that some fears about "safety" are stifling our actual safety. We've replaced a handful of injuries that result from cycling or football or whatever with obesity being the leading cause of death in America. Can you call that progress or what!?
     
  19. wanderingone

    wanderingone I'm not lost I'm just wandering

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    Saving Hawaii likes this.
  20. keith99

    keith99 Senior Member

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    Major fail.

    So what if absolute numbers are declining for bicycle deaths. It jsut happens I have lived most of my life in the same place. (In terms of residence, travels are a different story). It also happens that I (in large part through cycling) know the back routes to get places. This works out so my daily commute goes through the area where I grew up. Specifically right past the elementary school I attended throughthe 5th grade. Past 2 sides of the school and just after passing the school I can look to the left and see the house we lived in.

    I know the area, and I know it was teaming with kids when I grew up. Walking and biking everywhere. I go through ther about 3-4 times a week, every week. I cannot remember the last time I saw a kid on a bike. It happens that the side of the school I go by is where the (now empty) bike racks are.

    This isn't just what I see. One other site I spend a lot of time on is a cycling site. The same story is repeated over and over. People who grew up in an area where the vast majority of kids walked or rode their bikes to school where now few if any do.

    If accidents and fatalities are cut in half, but the number of miles ridden is cut by 90% it hardly means things have gotten safer.