Wow, it's been a long time since I posted on the forums! I am in desperate need of help though (and some need to vent!). Today my 10 year old daughter gets brought home by a police officer stating it is his 'judgement' that it is unsafe for my daughter to ride her bike to school and home again. During my conversation with the officer I learned she was obeying all designated laws (federal and local), her helmet was securely fastened and properly fitting, she was not riding in an unsafe manner, nor breaking any law. He informed me that if I continued to allow her there would be "problems". He explained to me that part of his job is public safely, and again in his opinion her riding her bicycle to school and home is "unsafe"; further stating that she has a bus available to ride, she needs to utilize it. If she was 14 or 15 it would be a different story of course (his opinion).
Humorously he requested my presence at the curb without asking if the children were old enough to be left unattended inside the house (sure public safety). At this point I told him I am well aware of the bicycle laws in the state of Tennessee for children under 40 inches/40 pounds, children under the age of 12 and adult cyclist. He (politely might I add) explained to me that although no law was broken in his judgement it was unsafe for her to walk or ride her bike to school and will be filing a report with child protection services for my decision to allow her. I really felt like he was...threatening me with child protective services if I didn't follow his directive.
First of all I don't believe there is a blanket age when a child is able to ride their bike to school and environment does play some role. I live in a very small rural town and her ride home does not entail any major intersection crossings. The intersection at the school is heavily trafficked however she dismounts and walks her bicycle across the street. I do not allow her to ride when it is dark for her ride either to or from school nor do I allow her to ride in inclement weather conditions (fog, rain, snow, extreme cold, etc.).
Before allowing her to even begin riding, we put her through a bicycle safety course, proper hand signal usage and rode the route she is to take with her numerous times to ensure she was able and respectful of road conditions. She makes excellent eye contact with drivers and (for a 10 year old) rides very defensively. She has been riding since age 3 and has grow up in an active cycle family so a great deal of this she takes as second nature.
I told the officer he is welcome to call child protective services, but it is my judgement as her mother that she is responsible enough and able to ride her bike the 1 mile to and from school that I have taken all safety precautions possible to ensure her safety. Additionally, I have called and left a message with his supervisor because as I previously said I feel I am being threatened with child protective services if I don't just say "yes officer, of course your right".
I would love some suggestions/comments on this please. My goal is to prevent other parents in my area from going through this also. I have made contact with safe routes to school in an attempt to establish a program for the school my children attend. What other options do I have?