Do you ever...let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk to school? Make dinner? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free-Range Kid! Free-Rangers believe in helmets, car seats, seat belts safety! We just do NOT believe that every time school age kids go outside, they need a security detail. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe I'll use them in a new book. Here's to common sense parenting in uncommonly overprotective times!
one of the things we’ve been working on are ‘safe walking routes,’ which also cover safe biking. dealing with traffic is a huge issue, as so many neighborhoods don’t have continuous sidewalks in the ‘walking distance’ to schools.
my daughter’s school is fantastic, but there aren’t any sidewalks, just a narrow street with no sidewalks.
wow – and check out how random that last paragraph is. sorry, forgot i wrote it, so didn’t edit it.
Well…this IS good news because from the sounds of things the city is building a bike trail, not sidewalks. If my memory of my bike safety classes thirty-mumble years ago isn’t faulty, in most areas it’s illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk.
What a shame it would have been if that little go-getter managed to organize (or shame) a city into building sidewalks so she could ride her bike only to find out that she wasn’t allowed to by law.
Update: After a bit of web research, it looks like riding a bike on the sidewalk must be legal in Missoula, since I’ve located a fair number of letters to the editor complaining about how unsafe sidewalk cyclists can be.
Depends on the locality. I did my Undergrad work at Montana State in Bozeman, and the Police Chief there described the situation as follows:
“Cyclists want to be treated as pedestrians when it’s convenient, and as vehicles when it’s convenient.”
We had a huge problem with cyclists on pedestrian malls which all had “No Bicycle Riding” signs clearly posted, but most bike riders are completely unaware of how the law affects them (or simply don’t care), and in a lot of cases, police officers have given up enforcement.
Then, in some localities, like Moscow, ID, near where I live now, signs are posted that bike riding on the sidewalks is OK, but that cyclists must ride slow and yield to pedestrians.
Great kid! She gets an early lesson in speaking out to fix things where she lives.
Riding on the sidewalk is something generally legislated at the municipal level. In some cities it’s illegal for adults to ride on the sidewalk. Perhaps some it’s illegal for kids as well, but I’d be surprised. In that case it’s probably a broadly written law that never thought about kids.
That said, riding on the sidewalk is a lot more dangerous than riding on the street, as long as you’re old enough to ride faster than someone jogging. The main problem is that cars at intersections and coming out of driveways look left for cars, not right.
The neighborhood I grew up in had very narrow streets. Originally there were hike and bike trails on the road. After I was forced to ride my bike into the ditch because things were thrown at me from a school bus (driver stopped and gave me first aid, then helped me home), my parents got involved with a movement to put in sidewalks.
They put in culverts and used the space where the ditches had been to put in a hike and bike sidewalk trail. It is 2.5 times wider than regular sidewalk.
The roads were built ln the 1950s and are narrow. If there is traffic there is no way for a car to safely pass a bike rider. So the law is that bikes have to be on the parallel hike and bike trail. In the 80’s when many Yankees moved to the area, we would be yelled at by the new adults for riding on the sidewalk. I remember pointing out to an adult the sign that said no bikes on road with a 2nd side on the other side of the sidewalk calling it a hike and Bike trail. He continued to yell at us and ride with his kids on the road. A village cop gave him a ticket and offered to arrest him if he kept up the abuse.
I was dubious at first regarding the actual benefit of the path, but it does look like it’s a dedicated bike path, vs. a generic sidewalks.
In my 30 years of riding, the only time I’ve collided with a car has been b/c I was riding on a sidewalk. I’ve had a couple of close calls on the street because the drivers weren’t paying attention, but the only actual contact was due to misusing a sidewalk.
I’m a firm believer in vehicular cycling. Do what they expect you to do, and be where they expect you to be, and be *extremely* defensive about it, and you’ll be better off.
Shame on the mother for instilling the mistaken belief that (assumed noncontinuous) sidewalks are safer.
All that said, good for the girl! One can only hope her get-er-done attitude survives her childhood!
People should NOT RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. It’s dangerous. If the street is too narrow for you to ride safely on the side of the street, ride in the middle of the lane, and own the lane. The cars behind you can slow down. Cyclists pay taxes too.
I’m really glad this is working out for this girl. On an unrelated note, did they seriously name an elementary school “Hellgate”? That’s hilarious.
@CLT — At least it’s not Hellmouth. The girl’s name is Elli, not Buffy. 🙂
It’s weird, when I was a kid I was taught NOT to ride on the sidewalks. It’s less safe for the pedestrians.
While this discussion of riding bikes on sidewalks is good, do check the linked article. What she’s getting is a trail (paved it seems), not a sidewalk. And it won’t even connect with the school. It’s great, but it’s also sad that such a partial victory has to be considered good news these days.
I am a cyclist–not a “racer” or any such, a “commuter” who uses his bike for nearly every errand possible, in city traffic and such.
My 4 year old son and 7 year old daughter love riding their bikes, too. They also have NEVER ridden on a sidewalk, nor will they. They are being taught that they are bound by the same laws which govern motorists and are granted the same privileges on the road, too. My kids are SAFER riding properly in the street where they can be seen more easily by motorists than they could ever be on a sidewalk.
For children, a sidewalk probably is safer. Assuming they are slow-moving, and get off at crosswalks and all. There’s a big difference between an adult who can cycle with traffic, and a child who’s maybe not great on their bike.
Where I live, it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk over the age of 16, but I’ve never had a problem when riding at a very slow pedestrian pace on sidewalks of really busy streets that you wouldn’t want to bike on. (Normally I’m on the street, but when I have to take one of these a short distance, I’m staying on the sidewalk)
As long as cyclists are respectful and careful, there’s no reason it should be dangerous for anyone. It’s the disrespectful idiots who are always the problem.