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Please Dont Bike To School!?!?

by Abhishek on August 10, 2009

I found an article on kids not being allowed to ride their bikes to school. It was in Saratoga Springs NY. School officials protested against a mother and son when they decided to ride their bikes to school on Bike to Work day. The boy’s bike was confiscated. Read story on The Saratogian here: link. More news  here: link

This reminded me of another article in the UK. The 11 year old lost his battle to ride his bike to school in Portsmouth. This time, the CTC (http://www.ctc.org.uk/) tried working with the school to establish that bike riding on roads is safe for kids. See full story here: link

Both schools said that the roads outside were unsafe for bicycling. A professional risk assessment done by the CTC in Portsmouth found that the road was in fact safe.

There is more discussion on these news articles on Bike Commuters: link

I am of the opinion that the type of safety in question is skewed. People consider operating a car safe where the fatality rate is almost twice in cars (0.47 per million hours) as it is for bicycles (0.26 per million hours) per Planet Green.

According to David Hembrow  http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2008/09/three-types-of-safety.html

There are three measures of safety, all of which have their place in Dutch bicycle provision:

  1. Actual safety – How many km you can expect to travel before you’re injured on your bike.
  2. Subjective safety – Are you near fast moving traffic? Is it easy to make a turn across traffic? Do you have to cycle “fast” in order to keep up?
  3. Social safety – Is there a mugger around that blind corner? Will I be attacked in the street if I cycle?

The Subjective Safety with riding bicycles on roads is quite low, making overall safety appear unacceptable. The Subjective Safety in driving a car surrounded by metal and airbags, ABS, ESC etc is relatively high.

I am inclined to think this is what the school official are spooked by. What the professional risk assessors have probably assessed is the ‘Actual Safety’. Subjective safety is one of the reasons why parents do not let their kids ride to school alone. Some accompany their kids to school on bikes. Others just drive.

What are we doing to improve Subjective Safety? Should it be considered important when designing roads? How does one measure it?

As a parent, what would make you think it is safe to let your kids to ride their bikes to school?

Related posts:

  1. School Principal Refuses Bike Rack, Students Protest
  2. High School Students Protest Gas Prices, Forgo Cars
  3. Eugene School District Keeps Kids out of Cars
  4. Bike Friday in Toronto
  5. MTA Helps Commuters to Bike-and-Ride
  6. Recent Posts

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Helen December 4, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I think that letting people know the actual safety statistics might help. And yes, Subjective Safety should be considered when designing roads.

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