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Old 09-14-06, 07:11 PM   #1
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I may have been wrong about bike paths, but it's not what you think

Got an email from a concerned parent. He makes his kid ride to school on the street. Why? Because he is afraid of robbery or thuggery on the bike path. It's seculded so sombody could steal your bike out from under you with no witnesses. Nobody will steal your bike out on the street. Too many witnesses. Also, if you get in an accident maybe somebody will come to your aid on the street. Who will see you on the bike path?

The boy has two bikes: a costco beater and a fully suspended mountain bike. He only likes riding the mountain bike. But he won't ride it on the bike path for fear of someone robbing him of it. So the only way to keep from driving the kid to school all the time is to let him ride his mountain bike on the street.

Goes to show you that you gotta get more information about all this stuff.

However, I remember being a kid walking to school on these seculded pathways and yeah, I was afraid of being beaten up or getting my lunch money stolen and I can't tell you how many flashers I saw, but I still think that a bike path is a good idea. One going right to the school. Maybe even post some moms or crossing guards along the way or something.
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Old 09-14-06, 08:23 PM   #2
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Very interesting. Thanks for posting that.
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Old 09-14-06, 08:44 PM   #3
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It depends entirely on the neighborhood adjacent to the bike path. There is a section of a bikepath on my way home that I wouldnt ride late at night on the way home, but it is very friendly during the day. The streets can be scary for a boy if there are busy intersections with a lot of turning traffic. If he rides the streets he will be a lot more aware of the dangers when he gets behind the wheel of a car.
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Old 09-14-06, 08:59 PM   #4
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I often wonder if the world is REALLY more dangerous than it was during my 1970's upbringing -- or if 24/7 sensational news makes it SEEM that way....
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Old 09-14-06, 09:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
However, I remember being a kid walking to school on these seculded pathways and yeah, I was afraid of being beaten up or getting my lunch money stolen and I can't tell you how many flashers I saw, but I still think that a bike path is a good idea. One going right to the school. Maybe even post some moms or crossing guards along the way or something.
I think the solution would be to think of bike paths differently-- not all bike paths should be scenic. Some, maybe most, should serve specific transportation functions. In this case, make a high-visibility bike path from the neighborhood to the school-- one where no flasher or thug would dare to lay in wait. For example, a bike path on the right-hand side of the sidewalk, such that the sidewalk is between the street and the bike path. It might mean moving the sidewalk out into the present bike lane (assuming a present bike lane), and placing the bike path between the property lines and the sidewalk. It will definitely mean thinking outside of the box, but if we do think outside of the box, it can be done.
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Old 09-14-06, 09:08 PM   #6
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My concern is, does the kid have the training to ride on the streets? How old is he? And if he rides to school during the dark hours, does he have the lights, etc. As for the idea of posting people along the path, I think that's a great idea. Have them use lights, whistles, and two-way radios, and the people who lurk in the shadows will soon find another place.
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Old 09-14-06, 09:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
I often wonder if the world is REALLY more dangerous than it was during my 1970's upbringing -- or if 24/7 sensational news makes it SEEM that way....
I hate to be so glib, but I think it is more dangerous for kids, or for alot of people. I'm a child of the 70's also, and we didn't have crackheads--who would hurt their own family just to get some more. We had other things, but this is by far the worst I've seen. Some would think nothing of killing a person to steal their bike and trade it.
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Old 09-14-06, 09:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomcryar
My concern is, does the kid have the training to ride on the streets?
Unless you're talking about a route between home and schools that is on a path that uses no streets, which is highly unlikely, then you're talking about the following choices:
  1. Kid rides on streets
  2. Kid rides on sidewalk, paths, crosswalks
  3. Kid rides on some combination of (a) and (b)
  4. Kid doesn't ride
If the kid does not have the skills for (a), does he have the skills for (b) or (c)? I think the skills required to ride safely on sidewalks along streets, crosswalks and paths that intersect streets are greatly underestimated, and are very similar to the skills required to ride on these same streets. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I know the percentage of cyclist deaths that result from kids riding on sidewalks is astonishingly high.
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Old 09-14-06, 09:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomcryar
I hate to be so glib, but I think it is more dangerous for kids, or for alot of people. I'm a child of the 70's also, and we didn't have crackheads--who would hurt their own family just to get some more. We had other things, but this is by far the worst I've seen. Some would think nothing of killing a person to steal their bike and trade it.
Well, the per capita crime rates haven't really changed over the past 30 years... and actually when it comes to certain crimes such as ****, they've dropped.

Perhaps we're all just being turned into scared [obedient?] rabbits.
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Old 09-14-06, 09:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Unless you're talking about a route between home and schools that is on a path that uses no streets, which is highly unlikely, then you're talking about the following choices:
  1. Kid rides on streets
  2. Kid rides on sidewalk, paths, crosswalks
  3. Kid rides on some combination of (a) and (b)
  4. Kid doesn't ride
If the kid does not have the skills for (a), does he have the skills for (b) or (c)? I think the skills required to ride safely on sidewalks along streets, crosswalks and paths that intersect streets are greatly underestimated, and are very similar to the skills required to ride on these same streets. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I know the percentage of cyclist deaths that result from kids riding on sidewalks is astonishingly high.
A meaningless statement about a meaningless statistic. If you want it to have some meaning, you have to state some specifics-- e.g.: Did the kid do something wrong? And if so, would the death have been less likely or more likely if the kid had been riding in the street? If all kids were riding in the street, would sidewalk deaths go down and street deaths go up? And if so, would the street death rate be lower or higher than the sidewalk death rate? Was there a driver at fault in the sidewalk death, or was the child at fault? Was the death the result of a helmetless fall that was not related to a collision with an automobile? Was the death at an intersection, and if so, what were the circumstances?
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Old 09-14-06, 10:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Unless you're talking about a route between home and schools that is on a path that uses no streets, which is highly unlikely, then you're talking about the following choices:
  1. Kid rides on streets
  2. Kid rides on sidewalk, paths, crosswalks
  3. Kid rides on some combination of (a) and (b)
  4. Kid doesn't ride
If the kid does not have the skills for (a), does he have the skills for (b) or (c)? I think the skills required to ride safely on sidewalks along streets, crosswalks and paths that intersect streets are greatly underestimated, and are very similar to the skills required to ride on these same streets. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I know the percentage of cyclist deaths that result from kids riding on sidewalks is astonishingly high.
I wrote what I meant. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Old 09-14-06, 10:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
I often wonder if the world is REALLY more dangerous than it was during my 1970's upbringing -- or if 24/7 sensational news makes it SEEM that way....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomcryar
I hate to be so glib, but I think it is more dangerous for kids, or for alot of people. I'm a child of the 70's also, and we didn't have crackheads--who would hurt their own family just to get some more. We had other things, but this is by far the worst I've seen. Some would think nothing of killing a person to steal their bike and trade it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dept of Justice
Violent crime and property crime rates in 2005, as estimated by BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey, are at the lowest levels recorded since 1973 -- the first year that such data were available. The rate of every major violent and property crime measured by the survey fell significantly between 1993 and 2005. The violent crime rate fell 58 percent during that period, and the property crime rate declined by 52 percent. The number of violent crimes decreased from an estimated 11 million in 1993 to 5.2 million in 2005.
Like much of what we talk about in the A&S threads there is a difference between perceived risk and actual risk.
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Old 09-14-06, 11:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
Well, the per capita crime rates haven't really changed over the past 30 years... and actually when it comes to certain crimes such as ****, they've dropped.

Perhaps we're all just being turned into scared [obedient?] rabbits.
The key thing in your statement is "per capita." Since the population has gone up, the amount of crime in a specific area has gone up as population density in that area has increased.

Still the same amount of crime per capita, but more "per capita" per area, thus more crime per area.

Sorry.
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Old 09-14-06, 11:06 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Blue Order
I think the solution would be to think of bike paths differently-- not all bike paths should be scenic. Some, maybe most, should serve specific transportation functions. In this case, make a high-visibility bike path from the neighborhood to the school-- one where no flasher or thug would dare to lay in wait. For example, a bike path on the right-hand side of the sidewalk, such that the sidewalk is between the street and the bike path. It might mean moving the sidewalk out into the present bike lane (assuming a present bike lane), and placing the bike path between the property lines and the sidewalk. It will definitely mean thinking outside of the box, but if we do think outside of the box, it can be done.
On the other hand, if sidewalks aren't used by pedestrians in suburbia (I was thinking with a "city mindset"), there's no reason kids can't just ride on the sidewalk instead of building a path next to the sidewalk.

Having said that, I really think bike paths should be more like bike highways-- for travel purposes, separated from car traffic, rather than for scenic recreation. That goal would change where bike paths are placed.
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Old 09-14-06, 11:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Order
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I know the percentage of cyclist deaths that result from kids riding on sidewalks is astonishingly high.
A meaningless statement about a meaningless statistic. If you want it to have some meaning, you have to state some specifics--
Fair enough. Never-the-less, my question stands. If a cyclist does not have the traffic knowledge, understanding and skills to ride reasonably safely in the streets, does he have the traffic knowledge, understanding and skills to ride reasonably safely along streets on sidewalks, across crosswalks and on paths that intersect streets?

Also, whether kids are riding on sidewalks or streets, they continue to represent a disproportionately high percentage of bike-related fatalities, particularly when you consider how much less most kids ride compared to all the adults who ride thousands of miles per year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomcryar
My concern is, does the kid have the training to ride on the streets?
...
[HH reads into this]
...
I wrote what I meant. Nothing more, nothing less.
Sorry. I assumed that you were implying that sidewalk/path cycling is appropriate for someone who lacks training to ride on the streets. My bad.

I too am concerned about lack of training for kids. Teaching a kid to "ride a bike" often seems to consist of basic operational skills, plus telling him to ride on sidewalks.

Without the training, kids probably should not ride unsupervised, except maybe along routes which are exclusively on paths that never intersect streets, alleys or driveways. But those are extremely rare. And once they are trained, they should be able to be just as safe on the streets as they would be riding on sidewalks and paths. The key is training.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Order
On the other hand, if sidewalks aren't used by pedestrians in suburbia (I was thinking with a "city mindset"), there's no reason kids can't just ride on the sidewalk instead of building a path next to the sidewalk.
A reason why they should not ride on sidewalks is if they are not trained to do so safely. But same with paths that intersect streets. But if they are trained, then they should have no need to ride on sidewalks or paths. Again, the key is training.

I'll close with a recent quote from John Forester that he posted on our county bike coalition list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Forester
Sidewalk cycling is safe only if the cyclist is utterly subservient
to motor traffic, which means, in the conditions of sidewalk cycling,
low speeds with many delays produced by good knowledge of traffic
operation. One who has the knowledge to ride safely on the sidewalk
also has much of the knowledge required to ride safely on the street.
...
As I have written repeatedly, and have posted the studies on my
website, it is quite possible to teach seven year olds who grow up in
families of competent cyclists, and eight year olds in classes, to
ride competently for the traffic that they probably need to
encounter. Indeed, I have been on club urban rides in the company of
seven year old cyclists who rode as well, in the traffic sense, as
the adults whom they accompanied.
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Old 09-15-06, 01:01 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Fair enough. Never-the-less, my question stands. If a cyclist does not have the traffic knowledge, understanding and skills to ride reasonably safely in the streets, does he have the traffic knowledge, understanding and skills to ride reasonably safely along streets on sidewalks, across crosswalks and on paths that intersect streets?

Also, whether kids are riding on sidewalks or streets, they continue to represent a disproportionately high percentage of bike-related fatalities, particularly when you consider how much less most kids ride compared to all the adults who ride thousands of miles per year.


Sorry. I assumed that you were implying that sidewalk/path cycling is appropriate for someone who lacks training to ride on the streets. My bad.
I have to disagree with you HH

Riding on sidewalks as a two-wheeled pedestrian and riding on the street as a vehichle are two totally different things with little overlap in traffic interaction skills. That's why you can have a child that knows how to be a safe pedestrian but has no idea how to operate a vehichle in traffic.

If there are segregated facilities for a kid to ride to school that intersect streets its primarily a matter of teaching the kid to dismount and safely cross the street as a pedestrian before resuming his/her journey. Not much different to teaching them how to safely walk to school, remember we're not talking about adult vehichular cyclists here but children that don't have the ability to make the sort of safety judgements that you and I make in real-time, subconsciously, while riding in traffic.

Just out of interest, here in Sydney it's legal for a child up to 12 years of age to ride on sidewalks, and it's also legal for an adult accompanying that child to also ride on sidewalks with the child.
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Old 09-15-06, 01:08 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Also, whether kids are riding on sidewalks or streets, they continue to represent a disproportionately high percentage of bike-related fatalities, particularly when you consider how much less most kids ride compared to all the adults who ride thousands of miles per year.
This is a horrible but true statement which I think needs to be qualified for the sake of this discussion. What proportion are bike-car collision, what proportion occured where a bike path intersects a road, and what proportion occured while the child was riding on the street (i.e. requiring vehichular cycling skills).
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Old 09-15-06, 06:49 AM   #18
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A popular trail around here (B&A trail) has had a string of around 6 muggings in recent months. Most are in the evenings but some right in the middle of the day as well.

Personally I prefer the road. I have had far more close calls on the paths than the road.

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Old 09-15-06, 07:09 AM   #19
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It's a valid concern. Not to do overkill, but very recently an avid female cyclist in her 50's in Atlanta was raped and murdered on the Silver Comet trail (She put up one hell of a fight, too.) I don't think our trail is any more dangerous than any other, but it's good to be armed with knowledge.

One thing is that if you pass by a secluded spot regularly, you can become a target.
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Old 09-15-06, 07:18 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Also, whether kids are riding on sidewalks or streets, they continue to represent a disproportionately high percentage of bike-related fatalities, particularly when you consider how much less most kids ride compared to all the adults who ride thousands of miles per year.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
This is a horrible but true statement which I think needs to be qualified for the sake of this discussion. What proportion are bike-car collision, what proportion occured where a bike path intersects a road, and what proportion occured while the child was riding on the street (i.e. requiring vehichular cycling skills).
Of course children fatalities are especially painful but HH's post is just more HH juggling of and guessing about misleading and/or non-existant data to support a personal agenda. What "disproportionately high percentage" and how were the percentages calculated? HH provides no data or references at all but HH knows based on HIS choice of non existant mileage statistics HH thinks HH knows all about. How about what percentage of kids frequently ride bikes vs. what percentage of adults frequently ride bikes? Who says adults ride more than children or have more exposure to risk? HH? Not good enough. I have no doubt children have more accidents and probably more fatalities on playgrounds than adults but I would not make stupid and misleading comments about their disproportionately high percentage of accidents.
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Old 09-15-06, 07:31 AM   #21
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Diane,

There are courses taught ny the LAB, called KIDS I & KIDS II. Here is the link: http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/e...on/courses.php

email this to the concerned parent. Maybe he or she can find out who teaches these courses in your area & get their kids involved.

I am taking the Road I Course next Saturday, the 23rd. After which I will take the LCI course to become an instructor.
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Old 09-15-06, 07:55 AM   #22
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I am taking the Road I Course next Saturday, the 23rd. After which I will take the LCI course to become an instructor.
Just like Helmet Head; Wonderful!
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Old 09-15-06, 08:08 AM   #23
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Hey you guys, I'm talking about a live kid, a Junior high kid, who is alive and who chooses to ride on the streets because he feels safer than riding on the bike path. But his reason for feeling safer has nothing to do with all the usually boogy-man nonsense about intersections with bike paths. It has to do with him being afraid of getting his bike stolen.

So, to avoid getting his bike stolen he rides on the street, on very busy streets you wouldn't expect kids to ride on and he does so confidently and with his father's encouragement.

So all this talk about deaths and needing road 1 courses is missing the point. The point was, we've probably forgotten what it's like to be smaller and weaker than people who might want to steal your very expensive bike.
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Old 09-15-06, 08:19 AM   #24
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The scourge of easy-mix methcathinone that swept america in the mid 90's has changed the face of social depravity and crime in rural and urban areas alike.

so the kid is paranoid about riding on the paths; that is a sad state of social affairs, best taken up with the city ombudsmen rather than the bicycling educators.

bike safety and knowing how to operate a bike has NOTHING TO DO WHATSOEVER about fears of getting mugged in public. sorry. stop the debate about riding styles; this is a social issue, not a riding style issue.
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Old 09-15-06, 08:21 AM   #25
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If he's confident and able to ride on a busy street, then more power to him, and I wish him the best. As for other kids who may use the path, I refer to post #6--an idea that may or may not be worth looking at.
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