Mom & Son Bike to School. State Trooper Awaits!

Hi Readers! In defiance of a policy that seems to forbid biking to the local grammar and middle schools in Saratoga, New York, a mom and her middle school son did just that last Wednesday.  That is, they ignored “a phone call placed to students’ homes by school officials, asking parents not to allow students to walk or ride bikes to school,” according to The Saratogan. And then?

Upon arriving at school on Wednesday, Adam and Janette Kaddo Marino were met outside by school officials and a New York State Trooper, who were on hand for the first day of school. They were informed that they were “out of compliance,” and had a lengthy discussion over where Adam’s bike could be locked.

And you thought State Troopers were the strong, silent type.

What’s cool is that the next day, mom and son were joined by several supportive adults. Friday was too rainy for a ride, but we can only hope more and bicyclists will be converging every day. (I can see the Disney movie now!)

For its part, the school district is said to be “reviewing” its bike policy.

Good. Once again, it’s not that any of us here are in favor of danger: If we were talking about kids riding their bikes up slippery slopes frequented by ice road truckers who drive while texting, that’s one thing. But The Saratogan reports that the road  in question is actually designated a bike route by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Let’s hear it for folks who defy laws that make no sense and don’t even make us safer.  (And for a middle school student who is still willing to be seen in public with his mom.) — Lenore

48 Responses

  1. Way to go Saratoga Mom!

  2. The last paragraph of this article makes it appear that riding bikes to school is against the law when in fact it is only against school district policy.

  3. wow! how cool! stand up to dumb laws like that! why on Earth do they not let kids ride bikes to school?

  4. There are plenty of policies that don’t make sense, and laws too. And there is often a nonsensical enforcement where the law leaves discretion (i.e. mom arrested when kids were out in car at Walmart – “child endangerment”). I applaud those who stand up for what they think makes sense for their families and kiddos!

  5. If it was only a school policy and not a law, shame on the school for wasting the state trooper’s time. Yay, Saratoga mom!

  6. Gotta love one of the comments at the Saratogan website. In response to several commenters who said “But it is for the Safety of the Children!” and suggestions to Google for reports of children dying while riding the bicycle to school. one commenter wrote:

    ” I just googled “Student killed while riding bike to school,” with 44,700 results.

    Then I typed “student killed while driving to school,” yielding 694,000 results.

    Finally, I typed, “the value of anecdotal evidence over critical thinking, community involvement and the freedom of choice,” and walked away. “

  7. Good for them! And, I love Anna’s comment.

  8. A free education for all…. as long as they have cars!

    Good for them.🙂

  9. Yay! for the mom!

    Even IF you agree that the school policy is ok, when the mom is RIDING WITH HER KID, not sending him off on his own, obviously she IS looking out for his safety.

    Personally, I think the school’s authority should stop at the edge of the campus, or at the school bus steps. How a child gets TO the campus, or the bus stop, is none of their business. Quit stepping out into the parent’s realm of responsibility.

  10. I agree with WendyW. I pay the teachers and administration to *teach*, not dictate how my child gets to and from school. The law only requires that they attend. My children are free to walk, ride, or bus to and from school – I just want to know which they choose, and I have final say over biking on a busier street in the rain.

  11. I just wrote a letter to the school board here about their reluctance to allow students to walk or bike to school. My 14-year-old has Karate lessons once a week, about a mile from the school. So, rather than let her walk to her lesson and have us pick her up there, we have to drive 10 miles at 2:15 to pick her up and take her to her lesson (the bus will not drop her at the studio), wait at the studio, and then drive her home. Ridiculous!

  12. So, wait, according to this policy you aren’t allowed to attend public schools in Saratoga unless your family owns a car? SERIOUSLY? Is such a policy even LEGAL?

    Or are walking and public transit permissible, but biking not? And if so, how in the world does that make sense?

    Yay for Saratoga Mom, her son, and their supporters!😀

  13. BTW, I should mention that I don’t know anything about Saratoga; maybe everybody who lives there actually does own a car. But it’s still a stupid policy.

  14. Sylvia, well, based on the photograph on the article, there are school buses. But that they can tell parents that they can’t walk or bike their kids to school is too much intrusion into parental decisions.

  15. Let’s all look at the silver lining. Saratoga, NY is such a lovely crime-free place that they can afford to dispatch a state trooper to a school to yell at a parent for riding a bike with her child to school. Clearly, no one speeds anywhere on state highways in the jurisdiction, there is no domestic violence, no theft, violence, nothing!

    I’m not the suing kind, but there’s got to be a potential lawsuit in here for official oppression. How is it that if the kid was going the opposite direction at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, there would be absolutely no role for a state police officer (since it can’t possibly be illegal in the normal course of things for a kid to ride a bike on a BIKE ROUTE), but if he’s going toward school at the time before school starts, it becomes a matter for the police?

    It’d be objectionable enough if the principal came out and yelled at the parent, but the POLICE? When it’s not REMOTELY illegal for a parent and child to ride their bikes on a bike path? NOR is there anything illegal about taking your bike somewhere where you “might not” be able to lock it up. You can leave your bike sitting in the middle of the park if you want — it’s stupid, but it’s not a CRIME.

    “For its part, the school district is said to be “reviewing” its bike policy.”

    Now that you’ve got me going, even this sentence infuriates me. They shouldn’t be “reviewing” it, they should be slapping themselves on the forehead saying, “What were we THINKING, that we could dictate how parents got their kids to school, and involving the police over it? We’d better get all our drinking water tested — someone’s obviously been drugging us! We must have been INSANE!”

  16. Kudos to this mom!!

  17. What is a parent supposed to do who doesn’t have a car? Doesn’t matter the reason why, maybe there is only one car for the family and the other parent takes it to work, or maybe the car was wrecked, or maybe, just maybe, the parents don’t need a car because they bicycle everywhere or ridepublic transportation?

  18. PS The schools say they are worried about childhood obesity, but they don’t want kids to bike or walk to school. WTF??

  19. This reminds me of how NYC spent millions building parks in Brooklyn only to tell parents and famlies in the borough that to use they park they had to have a permit and permission from the city to use it at special times.

    Or the suburb outside of Chicago that does not allow children to play in the front yards of their own homes as it is a violation of the neighborhood covenants.

    Sometimes the lunacy gets out of hand…

  20. I live less than an hour from the Saratoga district and I’m happy to report that not all districts around here are so draconian. Here’s the 1st sentence from our school website about the first day of full day kindergarten in our district:

    “The kindergarten students who walked to school with older siblings on Thursday will have one big experience in xxx school they couldn’t learn about from an older brother or sister — full-day kindergarten”

    Walking and biking to school are actually encouraged by the school!!!

  21. […] by Anna’s comment about safety while biking to school, I Googled for “student killed riding bike to […]

  22. Anna, I love that quote!

    It amazes me how many people view walking to school or riding bikes. About 4 kids at my daughter’s school ride bikes to school. They have this lovely area to lock up bikes, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than 4 bikes locked up in there. Pretty sad.

    We walk. My mother-in-law asked me once about driving my daughter to school if we were ever in a rush, and I just laughed. The school has so little parking available that parents who drive their kids park on our street, some days all the way up to our house.

  23. I just realized I don’t have time to write a comment as I have to ride to my kids school and pick them up. From there we’ll ride our bikes the eight blocks home just like we do every day.

  24. Umm…since when did state troopers enforce school policies? They don’t have that authortiy. They can enforce the LAW.

  25. The issue here as some have stated is that the school does not have the right to dictate how we, the parents, decide to get our children to or from school or where they go from school. Schools already have too much authority in our homes by dictating how much time our kids spend on reading, assigning homework, etc. when kids are on their own time. Heck, they even have reading assignments to do over the summer that are required. Required! What happened to parent’s deciding how afternoons, weekends, summer vacations are spent? I applaud this woman and her son for standing up to school administrations that are increasingly deciding that they have the right to dictate our life choices on and off school property.

  26. Mike’s comment about that Chicago suburb makes me SOOOO glad that my husband and I are raising kids in an historic African-American neighborhood in Houston where folks can actually be seen on their front porches and a good time is had by all.

    Pretty soon we are going to need to bring people on field trips here to see (gasp!): Children walking to school without adults. Children playing in parks without adults. Children being children!

    My recent free-range step was to allow my white-nine-year-old-daughter to actually circumnavigate (.5 mile) the park on her bike, alone.

  27. When I was young the kids that lived close to the school were not allowed to come on bicycle because there was not enough capacity in the bicycle parking area, so many kids came by bicycle, they had to come by foot.

    This school is still opposite my parents house and now every morning and afternoon our entire street is blocked by cars trying to drop their children off! They even petitioned to have our street turned into a one way street for the safety of the children. We didn’t sign we told them to bring their children to school on bicycle instead of by car.

  28. The first Friday of the school year (9/4) was designated Ride Your Bike to School Day at The Soulard School in St. Louis, MO. Nearly everybody participated and all wore helmets.

  29. I know this family. You’ll never meet two parents who are more concerned about the welfare of their children. The school systems, with their virtual certainty of budget increases every year provided by our tax dollars, might want to concentrate on producing a better product than worrying about whether our children ride bikes or not. I would think the parents are quite capable of making that decision. Centainly these two parents and, I suspect, thousands of others.

  30. I had to leave my private school. They were nuts. The principal decided that it was dangerous for kids to walk in or near the school, and some people were leaving babies in cars to pick up their kids. Her solution was: nobody can get out of the car to pick up their child. The kids were breathing in exhaust while the parents idled their cars in the parking lot for 20 minutes.

    She put in this insane pick up policy where you had to drive around the parking lot in a circle. This backed up the traffic at this old inner city school and the cops and city engineer had to try to mitigate the problems. THe cops told her this was a bad idea, which she ignored.

    This Principal also decided kids couldn’t play on the playground after school because she didn’t know who had been picked up. Well if you are over 3 then you should know that you can’t play on the playground without your mom, before being picked up. Or why couldn’t she say have people wait 15 minutes before going on playground? No principal banned playground play after school.

    This principal also told me that I couldn’t park at a local coffee shop and walk 2 blocks to pick up. I had to come in a car. Principal also wouldn’t let teenagers walk across the street without a note from their parents and a teacher to walk across the street.

    I called her supervisor and complained. I was labeled a malcontent and they told me they would be glad that I left. So I did. I don’t know how the other parents put up with this insanity.

    My son now goes to a public school where the principal incourages walking, biking and busriding to school. This principal teaches self reliance. Thank you Lenore. The insanity must stop.

  31. One wonders what will happen to such policies once gas hits $10 a gallon. Or $25. Such policies seem to provide an underpinning for “drill baby drill.”

  32. How much do you want to be they teach conservation and Green methods in classes and then hypocritically send them home in these cars?

  33. In small-town Missouri in the 1960s, the first milestone toward adulthood was being allowed to ride a bike (a Schwinn Grape Krate buzz bike with a bananna seat, of course) to school. Even in repressive, over-protective families this happened by 5th grade. And nobody’s mom ever rode with them; that would have marked you as a total sissy. (Of course, in high school during duck and deer season there were enough guns in the trunks of cars in the student parking lot to equip an Army regiment, so it was obviously an insane culture that taught responsibility from an early age, and there was never even a threat of a school shooting.)

  34. I cannot fathom how a school would even have this policy! What is the world coming to? Has the school district looked around at the number of obese and overweight kids in our country? Has the school district even taken into consideration the long-term effects of lack of exercise? Not to mention the environmental impacts of having so many kids arrive to school by car each day. What is wrong with people? Of all the things I’ve read today in the news, this is one of the most disgusting things I have come across. Shame on this ignorant school district and hooray for the parents who are standing up to this absurdity and trying to give their children a healthier future!

  35. It does not matter if there was a bike path or not. Federal law prohibits transportation discrimination. If the parent has properly trained there child for riding to school and the bicycle is maintained properly by that parent than nobody has a right to object. The lady was not defying any law. She was shunning uneducated bigots.

  36. I live in Temecula CA, and a middle school here FOUGHT the city to remove a bike lane so that more parents could park their cars and drop off their kids. Not only did they not want their kids riding to school on very quiet suburban streets, but the also did not want them to walk more than a few steps to reach the gate, like it would bad for them. The city stood firm and the bike lanes stayed, but they didn’t ticket parents who ignored that rule and parked their anyway. It just seems like opposite day.

  37. Insane. In defense of Saratoga *County* I will say that I live one town south of Saratoga Springs, my fourth grader walks to school by himself, and the school is very supportive (and all our neighbors are, too — not once have I gotten the “how can you take a risk” line. Everybody tells me how proud he looks when he is bouncing home.)

    Also, I don’t know the Maple Avenue School, but that area is new development, ticky tacky nightmare — they may be discouraging walking because there are no sidewalks.

    Lenore, have you mentioned walk to school day on the blog yet? It’s coming up Oct. 7th!
    http://www.walktoschool-usa.org/

  38. It’s important that the strong protect the weak from the self-proclaimed. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with a logical brain and a strong backbone, use them and do your less fortunate community members a favor.

  39. Our kid’s school just removed the bike racks for lack of use and it’s key to note that the Principal is extremely over weight. Hmm.

  40. Being overweight does not automatically mean that that person is lazy and never active. Was there a reason given for the bike rack being removed? Did you bother to ask or did you just assume that the principal’s weight made him decide to be a meanie and keep all the kids from riding their bikes?

  41. This is just incredible. I’m all for my son and daughters safety and for the safety of all children but this is rediculous. This is just an example of a school district trying to cover itself by making stupid laws. We as adults should be more concerned that all our children receive a good education rather than how they get there. Congratulations to this mother and son for their courage.

  42. Not ride a bike OR walk? How should those kids get to school, then?

    Over here the vast majority of kids walk or ride bikes. Some irresponsible parents bring their kids by car, but that’s actually dangerous because of the resulting heavy traffic around school. They should forbid cars, not bikes!

  43. Oh, and I forgot to say – how does a school have anything to say about what mens of transportation kids use?

    Okay, I’m not American, I don’t know very well how your country works – over here it’s the kids’ (and therefore ultimately the parents’) responsibility to arrive in school before the bell rings. How you get there is not the school’s business at all.

    And the police would never stop children who ride their bikes to school – that may be because all roads are litterally filled with schoolkids’ bikes around 8.15 AM but also because it is, of course, allowed to ride bikes, walk or drive cars.

  44. Hi, I’m Carson and I’m 11 years old. My parents let me bike to my friend’s house which is 30-45 minutes away, I couldn’t imagine not being allowed to bike to school. Yet another rule that is supposed to protect kids but just ends up annoying most people.

  45. And how many children are obese due to inactivity? I’m currently a Junior Mens road cyclist and pretty competitive. Why? Because 1.5 years ago I began cycling to school. I was never out of shape (having run track) but running had become painful. Cycling to school motivated me to race. What is important for safety is vehicular cycling i.e. obeying traffic laws and riding as if you were a car. This is not commonly taught in American schools.

  46. I found this thread tonight when I was looking for our local (i.e., Saratoga Schools) bike policy. You’ll be glad to know that they’ve instituted a ride-your-bike-to-school policy. It has lots of attendant regulations, but they also leave some things to parent discretion. For example, in the information I got from Caroline Street Elementary, parents are “strongly encouraged” (but not required) to accompany their children.
    See http://www.saratogaschools.org/NewsPublications/bicycleupdate2.htm

  47. […] by Anna’s comment about safety while biking to school, I Googled for “student killed riding bike to […]

  48. I remember reading about this last year. I just finished reading the comments. It’s reassuring to know that there are plenty of rational, responsible people who care enough to speak their mind. Similar injustices have happened, and wrongs have been righted.

    My friend in San Jose, CA had a similar problem when she rode with her daughter to school at Noddin elementary.

    Elementary School's Anti-Bicycle Policy

    It took a little over a year, but through the persistent work of many good people, Noddin’s policy of prohibiting bicycles as a means of transportation was overturned.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bike/sets/72157622432894913/with/3998619455/

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