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  1. #1
    pacifist-vegetarian biker
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    Why kids don't ride to school.

    The San Diego Union tribune has a feature article on why kids don't ride their bikes to school anymore. Article

    among reasons cited are fears about traffic and abductions, which are totally unfounded.

    From the article:
    "

    A Caltrans survey in 2001 found that children made 74.3 percent of all trips by car, 15.2 percent on foot, 7.5 percent on school bus and 1 percent on a bike. In San Diego County, 62,500 students about 12.5 percent of all students rode school buses in 2002-03.

    In a 2002 national survey, 71 percent of adults who responded said they walked or rode a bike to school when they were children, but only 22 percent of the poll's respondents said their children walk or bike to school now.
    "

  2. #2
    H23
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    Quote Originally Posted by UCSDbikeAnarchy
    ...
    From the article:
    " ...In a 2002 national survey, 71 percent of adults who responded said they walked or rode a bike to school when they were children, but only 22 percent of the poll's respondents said their children walk or bike to school now. ..."

    Not surprising. A lot of things have changed since there are now more cars than people.

    These days many people with kids live in McMansion or new condo developments which are in middle-of-nowhere ex-burban non-cities. Too many "family" neighborhoods look like strip-mall hellholes, mixed up with sidewalk-free residential cul-de-sacs.

  3. #3
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Everyone likes to blame sprawl, but there are other, far more important reasons, including laziness and perceived risk. Having met all of their personal wishes for material goodies, affluent folks want to control any risk factor which could endanger their idyllic lifestyle. They don't see the harm they are doing by turning their kids into couch potatoes, but they can see the harm in having a kid get run over by a car.

    In 1976, my wife and bought our first house in a fairly high-crime district of west-central Los Angeles. The community finally took a bit out of crime by taking back the streets, i.e., by encouraging residents to get out and walk or bike and to participate in both structured and informal Neighborhood Watch activities. Fortunately, I live and work in areas (Encinitas and Carlsbad) where motorists are very accustomed to seeing bicyclists, joggers, and dog-walkers.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  4. #4
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    As a parent of a beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed, dimpled 10 year old girl, I wouldn't say that fears of abduction or traffic are unfounded. Sadly abduction happens everywhere, and far too often. As far as traffic goes, one need only read the threads on this very forum to discover that even adults with years of experience in dealing with vehicular traffic can be vulnerable.

    Having said that, my kids ride the bus daily. The only exceptions are certain after school activities, and those rare occasions that they may have to carry something that I don't want exposed to the hazards of a school bus. Perfect example, my son did a report today on the influence of The Rolling Stones in the 1960s. My dad lent him his original copy of "Sticky Fingers" to use as a visual aid. There would have been hell to pay if anything had happened to it, so I picked him up from school, having dropped the album off to the care of his teacher last week, while he awaited his turn to give his report. This happens maybe 5 times a year between two kids. The middle school offers an activity bus a couple of days a week, so we take advantage of that when we can during sports seasons.

    Unfortunately they don't allow kids to ride bikes to school and have removed bike racks. That's a big change from when I was in school in the same district, but this town has grown significantly since then, and what were residential streets have become significant arteries jammed with traffic. I guess I won't complain too much though, I really wouldn't want my son riding his Allez to school, and I really don't have storage space for him to have a beater too.
    Tom

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  5. #5
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    The only kids I see ride to school in my neighborhood in Brooklyn are the Orthodox Jewish boys who go to school on Ocean Parkway. There's a bike path that leaves them 10 yards from the school's front door, and the steel rail that separates the bike path from the pedestrian walkway is a natural, if unofficial, bike rack. Usually there's 40-50 bikes hooked on there during the day. Some of those kids can hammer! Full black suits, dress shoes, shirt and tie AND fedoras, and they're cranking away at like 17mph!

  6. #6
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    Fat, lazy, parents breed fat, lazy kids
    Easier to blame, Crime, abduction, ABDUCTION?????????,traffic than to hang the blame on precisely where it belongs
    Exercise is outside of the norm I.E. ,an air cooled mall, in front of a Tv frying their minds

    Wonder where these kids will be in 20-25 years when they have to compete in a world market place with Asians, Indians,and other economically emerging nations, to say nothing about the Chinese who are on their way to owning the world in the next 50 years

    Oh Mommy, Daddy, drive me to work in that fast food place.

  7. #7
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Yes, abduction. Watch the news, any news. Seems to happen daily. I wish it didn't, if it were my child I'd kill if I could, but none of that makes it non-existant.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  8. #8
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twahl
    Yes, abduction. Watch the news, any news. Seems to happen daily. I wish it didn't, if it were my child I'd kill if I could, but none of that makes it non-existant.
    But does it happen MORE than it did 30 years ago, or do we only HEAR about it more? Of course it could be answered that that simply means we have a more accurate picture of it now than we did then, and if we knew then what we know now, they wouldn't have been riding then either.

    Still, I hope that when my kids get old enough to ride to school (they are 7 and 5 now), they can, since we live in a smaller town and the school can be gotten to on mostly neighborhood streets. But I can't judge what's right for other parents.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
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  9. #9
    Chronic Tai Shan ofofhy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travelinguyrt
    Fat, lazy, parents breed fat, lazy kids
    Easier to blame, Crime, abduction, ABDUCTION?????????,traffic than to hang the blame on precisely where it belongs
    Exercise is outside of the norm I.E. ,an air cooled mall, in front of a Tv frying their minds
    My mother is a teacher in RI. Her school will not let children ride bikes into school due to liability issues. They won't even let my mother commute via bicycle, because they can't have a double standard. I told her to tell the principal that 4th graders can't drive to school, but the teachers do as an example of a double standard that is in use every day.

    Some other threads/articles:

    Cant commute to school?
    Child dies in crash

    Half this forum is people ranting about how dangerous people drive, but now when it comes to letting children out on these busy/dangerous roads, you claim that statistics are invalid. The roads/traffic are perfectly safe for our children to go out on their way to school. I can see where parents would be scared. We don't let children have driver's licenses until they are 16 because they supposedly don't make the best decisions. So why would you think it is OK to give them just as much responsibility with a bicycle on the roads???
    From Craig's List: IF its a singlespeed that means----all the other parts are broken cut off and dumped...dont buy singlespeeds, the bikes will make your balls fall off

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  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Abduction is very rare and in most cases it is by a relative or a friend. It gets in the news because it is easy to report and attracts a lot of attention which is good for the advertisers.

  11. #11
    pacifist-vegetarian biker
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    The article is a good read.

    debunking the child abduction thing, it says that there were 364 child abuductions in the whole nation last year, and that includes kids takenf rom their homes, shoping malls, etc. There were also 17,000 kids injured or killed in car wrecks. The chance of kid dying in a car are proablymuch better than a kid getting abducted.

    when I was about ten, I jumped off a curb and fell of my bike on the way to school. I scraped up my face and had a little chip in my tooth, but I made it to school, put a bandage on my face and made it throuhg they day.

    my schoolw as about a 1.5 miles away from my house on quiet and moderate trafic streets with bike lanes. I'm sure that 15 miles a week did me good.

    I really wonder when parents of moribly obese children are going to be charge with neglect, or at least parents are given more education on nuturtion and excerise. Sure some people are natural chunk but 12 years old shouldn't be weighing 200 pounds

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    I wouldn't say that riding the bus is a complete waste. Every morning, I walk my bike and my daughter about a quarter mile to the school bus stop. We say goodbye and I ride on to work.

    When I was in elementary school, I walked or biked between a quarter mile and a half mile each way to school. Since we walk quite fast, I suspect my daughter is getting exercise that is not insignificant compared to what I got at her age.

    Paul.

  13. #13
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    But does it happen MORE than it did 30 years ago, or do we only HEAR about it more? Of course it could be answered that that simply means we have a more accurate picture of it now than we did then, and if we knew then what we know now, they wouldn't have been riding then either.

    Still, I hope that when my kids get old enough to ride to school (they are 7 and 5 now), they can, since we live in a smaller town and the school can be gotten to on mostly neighborhood streets. But I can't judge what's right for other parents.

    Does it "happen" more... I doubt it. It is my belief that there are a certain percentage of wierdos in the population, and those folks are the ones that don't quite fit the mold. However as population density increases, the chances that one may be exposed closer to home to one of these wierdos also then increases.

    Unfortunatly as population density increases, so too does traffic in a particular area.

    So generally I blame these woes on increasing population density.

  14. #14
    Spoked to Death phidauex's Avatar
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    The child abduction thing is a lot like the 'razor blade in the halloween candy' story that freaks so many people out. Turns out the candy thing has only happened once ever, and it was a family member that did it!

    Statistics support the notion that if you are going to be kidnapped or raped, it is probably going to be someone you already know, by more than a factor of 2. Great, huh?

    I think that if you watch enough news you'll be afraid of everything. I refuse to let the news making something seem scary be a justification for something. Scary sells, realistic doesn't. I carry a huge grain of salt around with me for any mainstream media I read or see.

    There are dangers with biking to school, but there are dangers on the bus, and dangers while driving a car. My parents taught me how to ride safely, made me wear a helmet, and made me call if I was going to be late for any reason. I rode my bike quite happily to school from 2nd grade through high school.

    Taking away the bike racks is utter crapola. Working families can't always change their entire daily schedule just to drop off or pick up a kid, busses don't always go where they need to go, and some schools are just too far to walk. A bike is a safe and effective way for kids to get around, and it'll give them a little well needed exercise.

    Sigh... People wonder why asthma and juvenile diabetes is so common these days. Every little choice we make through the course of the day adds up to an outcome, and we quickly lose sight of the effect our choices make.

    peace,
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  15. #15
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    I don't suffer from fear of my child being abducted. My daughter is a school patrol, she walks to the bus stop and rides the bus. I was just reacting to the statement from the original post that these fear were totally unfounded, a statement which also apparently applied to concerns about traffic. Abductions happen. I'd say it's a tossup whether it happens more now or it's just reported more, but if there were 364 in the US last year, that's an average of 7 per state. The problem is that's not what the article you're quoteing says. It says that 364 children were reported abducted by a non-family member in the state of California between 1995 and 2000. That's an average of almost 73 per year in California.

    This source, shows that in 1999 over 58,000 children were abducted by a non-family memberin the US. The State Department says that since the late 1970s, over 16,000 children were abducted and taken from the US, or prevented from returning to the US, usually by a parent.

    These are not numbers that should be dismissed as out of hand, and if you dismiss that concern as "totally unfounded", you must not have children.
    Tom

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  16. #16
    Senior Member Crazy Cyclist's Avatar
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    Here is my .02 worth on this topic: First of all this idea of not allowing kids to ride to school is bullsh!t if you ask me, for some kids this might be the only excercise they get all day, I mean they go to school for what is it? 8 hours per day, they they go home and by then they are too tired to do any excercize so they watch televsion until bedtime. This whole idea was probably started by some femist woman's group, if parents raised their kids properly than the chances of abduction would be rare, the best defence against child abduction is the self esteem of the child. When I was going to school I rode my bike everyday and if the school didn't like it tough ****. Maybe if the schools provided proper gym classes and not classes for aonly 10 minutes per day, than kids would be in better shape. Also schools need better bike storage facilities, kids are probably afraid to bring their bikes to school because they fear they may be stolen or damaged, if they had a place inside the school where the bikes would be safe than I believe more kids would ride.
    Political correctness means always having to say your sorry.

  17. #17
    1.9lb/in pseudobrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phidauex
    Sigh... People wonder why asthma and juvenile diabetes is so common these days. Every little choice we make through the course of the day adds up to an outcome, and we quickly lose sight of the effect our choices make.
    Asthma and juvenile diabetes are not triggered by lifestyle choices. That's patently false.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Crazy Cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pseudobrit
    Asthma and juvenile diabetes are not triggered by lifestyle choices. That's patently false.

    obesity can lead to diabetes in both adults and children
    Political correctness means always having to say your sorry.

  19. #19
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    There are far more common causes of child death:accidental drownings, gunshot, car accidents, abuse.. Accidents kill far more kids than abduction. But they don't get publicized because most are not crimes, just accidents. There were child murders when we were kids, butwe didn't have amber alerts and the internet and the missing children's network.

    ALl this is just yet another reason for lazy american kids to play Xbox all the livelong day.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  20. #20
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Cyclist
    obesity can lead to diabetes in both adults and children
    Nitpicking maybe:

    Juvenille diabetes (Type I diabetes), as mentioned first, is not caused by obesity. Obesity is related to Adult-onset (Type II) diabetes. Recently, there have been news reports that many more children are developing the Adult-onset Type II diabetes, possibly as a result of obesity.

  21. #21
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Juvineile diabetes (type 1) is HERIDITARY, there is nothing a child can do about but treat it then die from it. To blame this on a lifestyle choice is cruel and inhumane.

    Schools took bike racks out and banned bikes over liability issues. Kid rides bike to school, bike is stolen at school, school is sued by parents.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  22. #22
    1.9lb/in pseudobrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Cyclist
    obesity can lead to diabetes in both adults and children
    As others have said, juvenile diabetes (Type I) is not caused by obesity.

    And in no way is asthma caused by lack of exercise. In fact, asthma often leads to obesity because kids don't get proper treatment and are afraid of exercise.

  23. #23
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wabbit
    There are far more common causes of child death:accidental drownings, gunshot, car accidents, abuse.. Accidents kill far more kids than abduction. But they don't get publicized because most are not crimes, just accidents. There were child murders when we were kids, butwe didn't have amber alerts and the internet and the missing children's network.

    ALl this is just yet another reason for lazy american kids to play Xbox all the livelong day.
    over 70% of deaths in youth in the US are from:

    Motor Vehicle Accidents
    Other Unintentional Injuries
    Homicide
    Suicide

    So I guess I shouldn't worry about homicide in any way, since there are 2 causes of death that are more common for kids. Following that logic, I guess I shouldn't worry about anything but heart disease and cancer, since those are the leading two causes of death in the US overall. Hell with that seat belt, right? Don't worry about a helmet or even getting hit by a car, unintentional injuries rates overall 5th, so it's not an issue, right?

    I'm just saying that the fear should not be dismissed as "totally unfounded." My kids are active, certainly not "lazy American kids...playing Xbox all the livelong day." They're doing a century with me in June...they ride with my wife and I regularly, and regularly ride distances of 25 miles or more at a time. They ride the bus to school, and they go to and stand at the bus stop alone. I think their own self-confidence and normalcy are worth the risk. Of course if something were to happen, I'd be one of those parents losing my mind and asking myself why I didn't walk them to the bus stop. I'm just saying that the fear some people have (especially if something has happened in their neighborhood) is not without reason.
    Tom

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  24. #24
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pseudobrit
    As others have said, juvenile diabetes (Type I) is not caused by obesity.

    And in no way is asthma caused by lack of exercise. In fact, asthma often leads to obesity because kids don't get proper treatment and are afraid of exercise.
    My daughter does have asthma, but it's mild and controlled by medication. Continuous activity isn't usually a problem for her, but very intense/strenuous activity can cause her to weeze. She's anything but inactive, and if anything she's slightly underweight...she's very trim.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  25. #25
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twahl
    over 70% of deaths in youth in the US are from:

    Motor Vehicle Accidents
    Other Unintentional Injuries
    Homicide
    Suicide

    So I guess I shouldn't worry about homicide in any way, since there are 2 causes of death that are more common for kids. Following that logic, I guess I shouldn't worry about anything but heart disease and cancer, since those are the leading two causes of death in the US overall. Hell with that seat belt, right? Don't worry about a helmet or even getting hit by a car, unintentional injuries rates overall 5th, so it's not an issue, right?

    I'm just saying that the fear should not be dismissed as "totally unfounded." My kids are active, certainly not "lazy American kids...playing Xbox all the livelong day." They're doing a century with me in June...they ride with my wife and I regularly, and regularly ride distances of 25 miles or more at a time. They ride the bus to school, and they go to and stand at the bus stop alone. I think their own self-confidence and normalcy are worth the risk. Of course if something were to happen, I'd be one of those parents losing my mind and asking myself why I didn't walk them to the bus stop. I'm just saying that the fear some people have (especially if something has happened in their neighborhood) is not without reason.
    I know that parents and schools teach children how to avoid and handle dangers such as crime and traffic. It seems that at a certain age, bike riding to school would be safe enough. Do you think it might be reasonable for schools to encourage bike commuting for middle school children (say over age 10 or 12)? It really would be good for their health, and it might instill lifelong fitness habits. Also, do any schools have bike clubs where kids can learn about riding fun and safety? The schools spend a lot of money on driver ed, which is fine with me, but it seems like a good idea to teach cyclist ed too.

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