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Old 10-03-06, 12:17 PM   #1
tbdean
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Bike To School Day - School says don't

Wow. I don't know what to say. My daughter was excited about this. Walk & Bike to school day is tomorrow.

I checked the web site and my daughter's elementary school hasn't signed up. No big deal, it's Georgia, I was expecting that. So last week I emailed the principal and her assistant and asked if they were planning on doing anything. Will there be signs? Extra crossing guards? Will there be a place to lock up your bike?

My daughter has told me "no one" rides their bike to school and they don't even have a bike rack, but surely that can't be true.

No response to the emails so I just called. I asked the operator if they are planning anything and I get a quick "no". I ask if I ride with my daughter will there be a bike rack. No again. She asks if I want to talk to the secretary? Sure.

I ask my question again and she's puzzeld. "Are you sure you meant to call Jackson Elementary?" Yeah "Hold On". She comes back and explains that they aren't participating, "it's just not safe". (Not safe?!) "Okay, I'm going to ride with my daughter. I've been told there is no bike rack, can she just lock her bike to the fence."

"No, it's just not safe."

I didn't know what to say. I paused, and then, "wait, are you asking me not to ride on my own."

"Yes, I'm sorry. There's a lot of traffic, and busses..."

Wow. She was really nice about it. She offered to let me talk to the principal later (in a meeting now). I'm kinda tempted to do it anyway but I don't thinking upsetting the school administrators will do any good.
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Old 10-03-06, 12:23 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by tbdean
Wow. She was really nice about it. She offered to let me talk to the principal later (in a meeting now). I'm kinda tempted to do it anyway but I don't thinking upsetting the school administrators will do any good.
I would definitely ride. The actual upsetting might not directly do good, but riding usually does. And it might force someone to confront the issue rather than deferring to "safety considerations".
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Old 10-03-06, 12:24 PM   #3
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Wow. Don't worry about upsetting them. You owe it to your daughter and her classmates to set them straight! If I were you I would take them up on the opportunity to talk to the principal, you don't have to convince them to become 'bike to school' advocates or anything but don't they have a right to know that riding a bike to school is less dangerous than, say.... driving a car to school?
If they have any sort of commitment to education at all, they should be humbled by their own ignorance when you tell them this.
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Old 10-03-06, 12:52 PM   #4
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You know while I fully agree that cycling to school is an important issue... it could well be that the roads around the school (or better yet the inconsiderate motorists) can make this a difficult challange for younger cyclists.

For instance the road leading to my son's school and the only thru road available is a 45MPH arterial. He took his skateboard... on the sidewalks.

Maybe we need to work to make these roads and others like them available again... instead of constantly letting motorists dictate how roads are used.
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Old 10-03-06, 01:20 PM   #5
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Parts of St. Petersburg has had those portable signs posted in different areas for about a week warning that this was going to happen here. They will have extra patrols and crossing guards ready. Maybe we're not so backwards after all, but I'll reserve judgement until I see how it goes.........
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Old 10-03-06, 01:23 PM   #6
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Parts of St. Petersburg has had those portable signs posted in different areas for about a week warning that this was going to happen here. They will have extra patrols and crossing guards ready. Maybe we're not so backwards after all, but I'll reserve judgement until I see how it goes.........
I donno... sounds like they are taking back the streets to me.
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Old 10-03-06, 01:25 PM   #7
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You know while I fully agree that cycling to school is an important issue... it could well be that the roads around the school (or better yet the inconsiderate motorists) can make this a difficult challange for younger cyclists.

For instance the road leading to my son's school and the only thru road available is a 45MPH arterial. He took his skateboard... on the sidewalks.

Maybe we need to work to make these roads and others like them available again... instead of constantly letting motorists dictate how roads are used.
Gene makes a vary important point. I'd like to make another. If you think this is importnat them work through the system in a non confrontational manner. If you get branded as a troublemaker it is your daughter that will bear the consequences not you. Your job is exactly the opposite, to protect your children, not to put them on in harms way. And by harms way I mean being a target for teachers, not cars.

On a pure cycling level I'd suggest seeing what the ride is like from your house to the school. If you are interested in more than your daughter riding to school then check out how it would be comming from other directions.

I never biked to school. I was always either too close (a short block, riding would have more than doubled my distance because of were the bike racks were) or too far. 7 or 8 miles involving some nasty highways. But when I was a kid many other did bike to school.

From what I've seen as an adult I have to question the wisdom of biking to school. In my previous job I had to pass 2 schools on hte way to work and it was a positive zoo near either of them. Alternate routes took me past 2 other schools and it was the same there. So before of even thinking of having your daughter bike to school see for yourself what it is like at the time your daughter would be on the road.

BTW I have a feeling that there is no way to do much. If the school puts in bike racks or encourages biking to school in any way then they can be blamed if someone gets hurt. If they do not they can not be blamed. Simply put unless there is a huge groundswell there is no reward for the school and only risk.

Oh and do consider what it might mean for your daughter to be teh only one to bike to school. Kids can be rather cruel.
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Old 10-03-06, 01:30 PM   #8
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i used to ride my bike to school, but that was partially through the desert and off any main roads. plus we had big 'ole bike lanes to use if we needed them.

what are the roads like around there?
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Old 10-03-06, 01:40 PM   #9
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Here are some links to a Safe routes to school program in Georgia. The 2nd link has more links to national resources.

http://www.atlantabike.org/srtsGOALS.html

http://www.atlantabike.org/srtsHOWTOSTART.html

How to Start a Safe Routes to School Program for a Local School or Community
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Old 10-03-06, 01:40 PM   #10
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My kids school has bike racks. Should I make them walk to school tomorrow, since it is walk/bike to school day. They normally ride anyway. One thing I'm thinking of doing is the full fender/rack thing, as her book/messenger bag is $#@$ heavy. I guess it'll make her strong. We live a mile from the school. The bike lockup/rack area is full of bmx and cheap mtb's, along with 1 80's road bike, which is her's.
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Old 10-03-06, 01:55 PM   #11
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Make her wear spandex!
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Old 10-03-06, 02:05 PM   #12
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Wow. 25 years ago getting to ride your new bike to school was pretty much a rite of passage in my neighborhood. Riding was where it was at! The only other option was walking home, as our parents didn't feel the need to mollycoddle us by picking us up. Oh yeah, when you got home from school, you got a snack and ran back out the door to ride your bike to meet your friends to enjoy games and whatever before the sun went down.

When did we become such a nation of pansies?
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Old 10-03-06, 02:21 PM   #13
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Many schools have entrances in more places than just the front. When you are scouting out the route, be sure to check for "secret" back ways in.
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Old 10-03-06, 02:29 PM   #14
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In most cases, the school is legally responsible for the child not only at the school, but in transit to/from. So they may be able to legally restrict how the child gets to school.
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Old 10-03-06, 02:33 PM   #15
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In most cases, the school is legally responsible for the child not only at the school, but in transit to/from. So they may be able to legally restrict how the child gets to school.
So what happened to the good old fashioned crossing guards, like we had to make sure we got across major streets safely?

Oh yeah.... nobody lets their kid walk to school anymore.

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Old 10-03-06, 02:34 PM   #16
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You should have asked your daughter to find other children with bikes who would consider riding in. Then you could have figured routes where pupils could have taken the ride to school together - strength in numbers. Another safety measure you could campaign to achieve would be parking/stopping restrictions within 1/2 mile of school, at the beginning and end of the school day.
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Old 10-03-06, 02:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith99
work through the system in a non confrontational manner
That's the plan. I figure I've got a year until the next one. I'll see what resources are available to purchase racks, signs, etc. But mainly it's just showing them the statistics on how safe it really is.

Map tester - thanks for the links.

I have ridden the route she would take, it's the first 1.7 miles of my normal loop. A bit hilly for a 4th grader, but she could do it.
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Old 10-03-06, 03:06 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by genec
You know while I fully agree that cycling to school is an important issue... it could well be that the roads around the school (or better yet the inconsiderate motorists) can make this a difficult challange for younger cyclists.

For instance the road leading to my son's school and the only thru road available is a 45MPH arterial. He took his skateboard... on the sidewalks.

Maybe we need to work to make these roads and others like them available again... instead of constantly letting motorists dictate how roads are used.
It's not the motorists who decide, it's the city. The Planning Departments decide which streets will be arterials; the city decides whether or not it will encourage cycling within the transportation mix. If the routes are unsafe for cyclists, it's possible that nobody asked the city to provide safe cycling routes.

The fact that the routes to this particular school are unsafe for children to ride demonstrates just how shortsighted city agencies and officials can be sometimes. That's why they need to hear from the citizens when there are problems like schools with no safe routes for children.
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Old 10-03-06, 03:57 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by tbdean
That's the plan. I figure I've got a year until the next one. I'll see what resources are available to purchase racks, signs, etc. But mainly it's just showing them the statistics on how safe it really is.

Map tester - thanks for the links.

I have ridden the route she would take, it's the first 1.7 miles of my normal loop. A bit hilly for a 4th grader, but she could do it.
In general I would worry the MOST about the LAST 2 BLOCKS going to school. Other than that all teh schools I mentioned except one where there were problems have at least one decent way in for the majority of students. The one exception is a church school on a truely major street mid block. That would be a major problem, but since there the vast majority probably live too far away anyway it is a moot point.

Again check the school itself at the times student arrive and leave.

The grade school I went to until the 5th grade still has bike racks. I pass it on the way home most of the time (alternate route since the freeway is a parking lot). Perhaps I'll try to take that route to work sometime and see how things are. (I'll probably find school starts at 9 and learn nothing since I'd be going by at near 8). But thinking about it the bike racks are in a little entirely enclosed area where they would lock the gate once school starts, that to prevent theft of vandalism, something the school would get blamed for. Just one more thing to think about. If the school provides facilities they will have to maintain them as a safe area.
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Old 10-03-06, 04:01 PM   #20
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The word "just" is overused in this sort of situation. It's a one-word, catch-all cop-out. Drives me nuts.
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Old 10-03-06, 04:02 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCI_Brian
In most cases, the school is legally responsible for the child not only at the school, but in transit to/from. So they may be able to legally restrict how the child gets to school.
I doubt that the schools are legally responsible at all for transit, unless on a school bus. Where did you hear about "most cases"?

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 10-03-06 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 10-03-06, 05:38 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Order
It's not the motorists who decide, it's the city. The Planning Departments decide which streets will be arterials; the city decides whether or not it will encourage cycling within the transportation mix. If the routes are unsafe for cyclists, it's possible that nobody asked the city to provide safe cycling routes.

The fact that the routes to this particular school are unsafe for children to ride demonstrates just how shortsighted city agencies and officials can be sometimes. That's why they need to hear from the citizens when there are problems like schools with no safe routes for children.
Well generally I agree with you... but the other factor in play is how motorists would deal with reduced speed limits at certain times on arterial roads.

Of course enforcement should be called out to deal with that...
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Old 10-03-06, 05:40 PM   #23
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When did we become such a nation of pansies?
About the time SUVs and Nintendo showed up...
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Old 10-03-06, 05:49 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by LCI_Brian
In most cases, the school is legally responsible for the child not only at the school, but in transit to/from. So they may be able to legally restrict how the child gets to school.
Speaking from experience, when biking, schools are only responsible when you're on school property. But when riding a bus, the school is responsible for the entire ride. It may or may not apply to the bus stop as well. But I'm sure this varies from district to district, and state to state.
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Old 10-03-06, 06:06 PM   #25
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Well generally I agree with you... but the other factor in play is how motorists would deal with reduced speed limits at certain times on arterial roads.

Of course enforcement should be called out to deal with that...
There should be signs announcing a reduced speed limit in school zones already. If the motorists don't like the school zone speed limits, they can choose a different route, or leave earlier. It would seem to me that the key would be to designate safe routes to school with school zone markings.

Then ticket the speeders till they bleed money.

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