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Old 03-26-07, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Gerdz
I posted a similar thread in Advocacy and Safety, but thought I might get a different take on it in here. I am car-free and my kids - 8 and 11 - have to use bicycles to get to their various activities. We live in a very busy, suburban area (Chandler, AZ) and it sometimes feels unsafe being out there with them. Does anybody else do this kind of riding with kids and what do you do/how do you ride to keep everybody as safe as possible?

Hey there Mike,

I gradually became car-free over the past twelve years and have been virtually car-free for about seven years now. My son is thirteen and we both use our bikes to travel almost everywhere. We live in a city with a metropolitan population of 5.5 million and our downotown community is about 2million. Unlike most American cities, Toronto has vibrant downtown residential communities intermixed with high density commercial and corporate environments (major corporate headquarters located right next to major condo developments and established residential neighbourhoods). There is considerable traffic and congestion throughout the city, but we ride anyway.

I gradually elevated his bike education from the sidewalk to the street and by the time he was ten, he was on the street exclusively. We choose our routes carefully. He knows how to 'take the lane' and not be intimidated by close-passers or honkers. He rides predictably, alertly and respectfully and I am cofident in his abilities and skills whether I am with him or not.

So long as you teach your kids how to respect other users of the road as well as their own place within traffic, how to make eye contact with motorists and 'take the lane' in addition to riding in straight, predictable lines, they'll be just fine. They shouldn't encounter any more danger than anyone driving a car or walking across the street. Sometimes they'll need to stop and let someone usurp their right of way if forcing their right of way puts them in unnecessary danger. It's a battle lost, but the war won thing. If they keep a level head and an experienced eye out, they'll enjoy good long, healthy lives.
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