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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 07-25-14, 04:42 PM   #1
MikeRides
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Wait, why can't we live car free?

Since last fall, I've been the legal guardian of my fiancee's 9 year old daughter while she's serving overseas for a minimum of 2 years. Throughout the winter I kept the car for emergencies but eventually got tired of paying the insurance on it just to sit there so I sold it to a friend of mine. It was shaky at first, I was apprehensive over the idea of giving up the car with a kid around in case of an emergency, but we seemed to make it work out. Unfortunately, some teacher at the school saw us riding away on bikes and decided to file a child endangerment report with social services. The part I can't figure out is why, and of course the caseworker isn't at liberty to disclose any information. She's a happy, healthy, well dressed kid who happens to like riding her bike everywhere. If its safety they're concerned about, her bike has bright lights in front and the rear, she always wears a helmet, and wears a hi-viz shirt with a reflector triangle on the back. She doesn't ride by herself and always rides in front or to the right of me depending on where we ride. The most traffic we see on our local roads are animals and tractors. I've seen kids bouncing around in the back of pick up trucks but nobody seemed to complain about that, but we try to better ourselves and the planet by going green by riding our bikes everywhere and we get singled out.

The caseworker specifically told me that if I could prove that I owned a car there wouldn't be a problem, but without one I'm putting her in "extreme danger". So if I buy a car, insure it, and let it sit in my driveway and still take the bikes everywhere she'd be safer. hmm, I think we're more aware of our surroundings on the bikes than we would in a steal cage-don't you?
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Old 07-25-14, 04:56 PM   #2
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Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States.
CDC - Child Passenger Safety Fact Sheet - Motor Vehicle Safety - Injury Center

That should be enough said, but of course I'll add more.

With an epidemic of obesity-related diseases now rampant among our youth, almost all of them caused by living a sedentary lifestyle, it should be clear to even the most obtuse person that it is the act of transporting children in cars that is child abuse. Those parents who choose to make and teach healthy lifestyle choices should receive medals. Sadly, we wouldn't have to use up much metal to make these medals.

By the way, just which flyover state are you in?
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Old 07-25-14, 05:09 PM   #3
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In many cities, up to 55% of households have no cars. Is this worker saying that all of those families need to give up custody of their children? Utterly ridiculous! Millions of families with children have no car.

List of U.S. cities with most households without a car - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Carfree Census Database
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Old 07-25-14, 05:09 PM   #4
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CDC - Child Passenger Safety Fact Sheet - Motor Vehicle Safety - Injury Center

That should be enough said, but of course I'll add more.

With an epidemic of obesity-related diseases now rampant among our youth, almost all of them caused by living a sedentary lifestyle, it should be clear to even the most obtuse person that it is the act of transporting children in cars that is child abuse. Those parents who choose to make and teach healthy lifestyle choices should receive medals. Sadly, we wouldn't have to use up much metal to make these medals.

By the way, just which flyover state are you in?
Exactly my thought. I know there are many bicyclist lives taken but mostly due to automobiles in the first place. I still think this is a prime example of extreme prejudice, the vast majority of the town is morbidly obese seeing other bicycles is extremely rare.

New York.
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Old 07-25-14, 05:10 PM   #5
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With automobiles being the leading cause of death for children in this country it could be argued that taking a child anywhere in an automobile could be considered reckless endangerment.

One solution would be to invest in a zipcar membership to prove that you have access to a car whenever you need one.
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Old 07-25-14, 05:15 PM   #6
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I would definitely file complaints against both the meddling teacher and the insane caseworker--unless there are other factors we are not being told about.
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Old 07-25-14, 05:23 PM   #7
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... Unfortunately, some teacher at the school saw us riding away on bikes and decided to file a child endangerment report with social services. The part I can't figure out is why, and of course the caseworker isn't at liberty to disclose any information. ...
The caseworker specifically told me that if I could prove that I owned a car there wouldn't be a problem, but without one I'm putting her in "extreme danger"....
I don't know how you could cure that level of ignorance on the part of the case worker, short of a court hearing, but I'd consult a lawyer about suing the teacher and school system.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:47 PM   #8
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I would definitely file complaints against both the meddling teacher and the insane caseworker--unless there are other factors we are not being told about.
I don't think this would work. It seems like the environment is particularly toxic in that town, as Mike has already pointed out; obesity is rampant and bicyclists are rarely seen. I doubt a complaint would receive a fair hearing unless it was lodged at state level away from the town.

The assertion that a car has to be owned is ludicrous. Surely Mike needs to get his fiancee to provide him with an affidavit that she is entirely happy with the arrangement and she doesn't consider her daughter to be in any kind of danger. So long as the fiancee has agreed to all this. That's at least a first step.

However, it might be a fine line before child protection oversteps and takes custody of the child. Some independent legal advice likely should be sought now, rather than later.

Another solution might be to buy a clunker, leave it in the driveway and not pay the licence and insurance.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:47 PM   #9
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By the way, just which flyover state are you in?
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New York.
Uh oh, that doesn't fit the bill does it, B.C.?
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Old 07-25-14, 08:06 PM   #10
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Some independent legal advice likely should be sought now, rather than later.
+1
Whatever their motivation, they sound pretty scary. It'd be nice to know what your rights are.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:06 PM   #11
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When I was a kid the caseworkers hassled us because we had a case of the Poors. We were clean and fed and loved but the family auto was beat up and our clothes weren't name brand...

It sounds like little has changed. See if you can find a community advocate or the like to help you out.

We were in NY too. Ugh.
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Old 07-25-14, 10:37 PM   #12
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I thought about this when i saw an ad for some mentoring program...and they said valid proof of car insurance is required. I guess if you don't have that you can't prove you are "responsible"

And all those landlords who don't rent to you, I saw a pamphlet a while back about housing discrimination, report them! There are certain questions people have no business asking....and are in fact illegal to ask.
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Old 07-26-14, 12:25 AM   #13
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I would definitely file complaints against both the meddling teacher and the insane caseworker--unless there are other factors we are not being told about.
Like what? She always had clean clothes to wear, food on the table, and a roof over her head. Never was she mistreated or malnourished.

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I don't know how you could cure that level of ignorance on the part of the case worker, short of a court hearing, but I'd consult a lawyer about suing the teacher and school system.
I contacted my lawyer soon after the caseworker visited. He looked into the case on my behalf and found out the report was anonymous from the school so there's no teacher linked. Nonetheless we have filed a complaint against the school board. We also filed a formal complaint on the caseworker and her supervisor as well, which he warned would probably not leave local court so it would likely not be any help.

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The assertion that a car has to be owned is ludicrous. Surely Mike needs to get his fiancee to provide him with an affidavit that she is entirely happy with the arrangement and she doesn't consider her daughter to be in any kind of danger. So long as the fiancee has agreed to all this. That's at least a first step.
This is an interesting suggestion, Rowan, I'm going to mention it to my lawyer and see what he thinks. I've been in contact on a regular basis with my fiancee since this situation popped up. With any luck her connection in the army may be able to assist in resolving
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Old 07-26-14, 12:58 AM   #14
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The best defense is the simple fact that there are millions of families in New York state that don't have cars. If the children were removed from all of those families, the foster care system and courts would be overwhelmed and have no ability to deal with all of them.

Also, the high prevalence of carfree families is on the proof that this practice is normal and acceptable in the state of New York. The persecution of one family for something that occurs in many families is a clear denial of equal protection.

(I'm not a lawyer, but this seems like common sense to me.)
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Old 07-26-14, 02:26 AM   #15
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Some people think you need a car for emergencies. You really just need to be able to dial 911.
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Old 07-26-14, 10:17 AM   #16
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this is a joke, right?




please?
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Old 07-26-14, 10:54 AM   #17
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I think katsrevenge might be on to something. It sounds like your town might be one of those places where it's completely acceptable to harass people whom they perceive to be poor (even if you're not) or are trying to do things differently. Legal action is probably the *right* thing to do...but it's probably more expensive than just buying a clunker, and it doesn't solve the fact that you still have to live with these people (who will probably resent you for trying to change things).

I know that feeling of getting harassed for no good reason. It's gross. Ugh.
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Old 07-26-14, 11:33 AM   #18
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The best defense is the simple fact that there are millions of families in New York state that don't have cars. If the children were removed from all of those families, the foster care system and courts would be overwhelmed and have no ability to deal with all of them.

Also, the high prevalence of carfree families is on the proof that this practice is normal and acceptable in the state of New York. The persecution of one family for something that occurs in many families is a clear denial of equal protection.

(I'm not a lawyer, but this seems like common sense to me.)
The whole situation makes no sense, she's far from abused, there are at least a dozen kids who appear to be in bad shape right in our community and yet we're the ones singled out...for riding our bikes!?

Living rural means if there was an emergency situation, heaven forbid, the response time for an EMT to show up is at least 60 minutes. This is what is pushing me towards being car light. Besides the cost savings I could see at the diner by ditching my distributors and shopping at wholesale clubs would be likely to negate the cost of owning a vehicle, though owning a car wouldn't be required if I was to build a custom trailer for the bike. However the 30 mile ride with 200 +/- pounds worth of groceries in tow is a little daunting.
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Old 07-26-14, 12:26 PM   #19
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You have to keep in mind that they aren't necessarily going to tell you what the actual complaint is. It could be anyone - a neighbor, enemy, friend of the child, busybody, anyone making an unfounded anonymous complaint. They have to follow up, and they have no idea in the beginning whether it's specious or a situation requiring immediate action.

We're all outraged, but it's important that you show no anger nor drag your feet on any part of the process. Don't escalate unless it's absolutely necessary. Provide them with references who would be familiar with your situation and who you know will not torpedo you. If you can put them in touch with your fiance that can probably end it, but let her know ahead of time. Document all contacts and conversations.

Not having a car can only be part of the allegations. It sounds like she's leaving you a way out, because she suspects that the allegations are bogus. I think it's probably a good idea to just buy a beater and satisfy them. Keep the priorities straight: resolving the situation is first and foremost, after that worry about fighting back. Confronting them head-on by filing complaints may not be the best way to extricate oneself - how does that actually help you? If it's not something like a personal vendetta against you that's not going to knock out the investigation. Cooperate, compromise, and explore further options when it's all over.
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Old 07-26-14, 12:52 PM   #20
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I would definitely file complaints against both the meddling teacher and the insane caseworker.......
Probably not the best of plans........especially after reading comments from one BF member in Tennessee, and her run up against law enforcement and child protection services over her daughter's riding to school on her bike.
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Old 07-26-14, 12:54 PM   #21
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Living rural means if there was an emergency situation, heaven forbid, the response time for an EMT to show up is at least 60 minutes. This is what is pushing me towards being car light. Besides the cost savings I could see at the diner by ditching my distributors and shopping at wholesale clubs would be likely to negate the cost of owning a vehicle, though owning a car wouldn't be required if I was to build a custom trailer for the bike. However the 30 mile ride with 200 +/- pounds worth of groceries in tow is a little daunting.
Given the situation and the advantages of having a car available that you describe in the above paragraph, what is keeping you from getting it?
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Old 07-26-14, 01:17 PM   #22
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this is a joke, right?




please?
The OP's tale isn't the first in the genre and probably won't be the last.

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Probably not the best of plans........especially after reading comments from one BF member in Tennessee, and her run up against law enforcement and child protection services over her daughter's riding to school on her bike.
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Old 07-26-14, 03:33 PM   #23
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Given the situation and the advantages of having a car available that you describe in the above paragraph, what is keeping you from getting it?
not having to
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Old 07-26-14, 03:59 PM   #24
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Judging from your post the child is a military dependent. If you have a base near you, contact the post sergeant major's office and ask to be put in touch with the director of the post's Family Support Group. Ordinarily this is the spouse of the post's sergeant major or commander. Your connection to the military may be too tenuous to be useful in this instance, but it's worth a shot explaining your story to them. As the guardian of a dependent, there may be resources at your disposal of which you are unaware.
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Old 07-26-14, 04:24 PM   #25
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Judging from your post the child is a military dependent. If you have a base near you, contact the post sergeant major's office and ask to be put in touch with the director of the post's Family Support Group. Ordinarily this is the spouse of the post's sergeant major or commander. Your connection to the military may be too tenuous to be useful in this instance, but it's worth a shot explaining your story to them. As the guardian of a dependent, there may be resources at your disposal of which you are unaware.
Given the military's paranoid-like requirements for anyone to even babysit for military children on post I doubt that an appeal to the military hierarchy will provide the OP any help, especially given the OP's voluntary insistence on being car free makes for "the response time for an EMT to show up is at least 60 minutes."
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