Bikes to school by SKL

bikes to schoolHow many of you walked or biked to school as kids? My family always lived close enough to walk to all of our schools.  It would have been fun to bike, but even when all of us had a bike and when the weather was accommodating (which wasn’t often), my elementary school had no place to park them – except during the school-sponsored “bike week” when they made space in the gym for everyone’s bikes.

We moved shortly after my youngest sister was born, to a small town where riding bikes to school was more common.  My kid sister rode her bike to school from kindergarten onward.  Granted, she was a relatively responsible kid, and it was only a few blocks away (across one state highway), but she never had any problems.

I’d love to have my kids ride their bikes to school if it were feasible.  I would have to weigh the various factors, of course – how far away is the school, how many big streets, what are the neighborhoods like, how responsible is my individual kid, etc.  But I hope that it will come down to my own decision, not that of someone who doesn’t know my kids at all.

I came across this article about an elementary school that has an outright ban on kids riding bikes to school.  A mom who bikes with her son every day (3 miles) challenged the rule, and it looks like they are going to change it, because they admit they don’t have the right to control what kids do outside of school hours / off school property.  But for years, this prohibition has stood and controlled something that, in my opinion, should have been a family decision.  Because let’s face it, most young kids aren’t even going to consider blatantly breaking a school rule.

Another parent was recently prevented from taking her child home from school on horseback.  The school held onto the child and called the police, who drove the child home.  That school is sticking to its guns about its right/duty to tell parents what mode of transportation they are allowed to use to get their kids to and from school.

This makes me wonder.  How common is it for schools to try to control actions that are “related” to school, but happen off school grounds / outside of school hours?  And what do parents / citizens think about this?  If your child’s school had a policy that you considered beyond the scope of their authority, what would you do about it?

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15 Responses to Bikes to school by SKL

  1. Joy says:

    I walked to school in elementary school though I could have ridden my bike but I don’t remember doing that. I do remember walking though. We did have a bus available to us in jr and sr high but we still all walked. I’m thinking it was a social thing.

    My own boys rode the bus until they could drive to school. The schools were further away than mine were. But I do feel it’s up to the parents how the kids get to school. I can’t see the harm in any way either walking or riding a bike and I can’t begin to imagine how or why the school set up this policy. They are in no way responsible for kids until they are on school grounds. They are responsible for kids riding a bus so to my way of thinking, it’s a better deal for the kids to walk or rife a bike.

    Now the woman and the horse. I can see a few problems with this mainly because she did it because she was mad at the way she was supposed to be picking up her kids. I also feel that horses leave “stuff” behind and if you’re in a city, it’s really not such a hot idea. Now if you lived very rural and did this and weren’t “proving a point,” I’ll bet it would be okay. I could see someone doing this where I live.

  2. Mrs.C says:

    This is so ridiculous! Not being able to ride a bike to school? Or being told that you can’t pick up your child on horseback?? ARGH.

  3. Gary says:

    I was a bus rider but anyone could ride their bikes to school at ALL the schools I attended growing up. Never heard of any schools not allowing bikes. That would SUCK!

    As far as the horse goes, I feel much like Joy. It comes down to location. I could see picking up your kids on a horse in Chicago or New York being a bit of a problem. However where I live, nobody would care. Everyone would just want to pet the horse. 😀

  4. SKL says:

    This kind of stuff irks me because I feel there’s often arrogance behind it.

    I remember when my sister got a detention for combing her hair in the bathroom before school. My mom wouldn’t let her serve the detention. The school’s argument was that she “might” have tried to smoke a cigarette (she was 13 and not a smoker). Another time my brother, then 18, got suspended for having cigarettes in his pocket. He was not smoking them, sharing them, etc. It is not illegal for an 18-year-old to have or smoke cigarettes, and certainly plenty of teachers had smokes on school property. My mom tried to intervene, but to no avail. I also recall being disciplined for (a) not attending church [it was a parochial school (KG), but my parents weren’t members]; and (b) not yet having glasses [my parents had to save up the money to pay for them]. I’m sure there are many other examples I could think of if I had the time.

    I understand the schools need to have rules/guidelines to keep order, etc., but what I don’t understand is why they have to be so arbitrary. I rarely see a teacher or administrator back down when a student or parent points out that maybe they are wrong, or maybe the punishment isn’t the right course of action in a particular case. Maybe they think that is going to earn them respect, but I think it’s the exact opposite. Besides, if a kid is going to have a discipline record for doing something that isn’t illegal and isn’t bothering anyone, they may lose the motivation to walk the straight-and-narrow afterwards – aside from hating school.

    As far as the horse, I support the mom on several levels. One, I don’t blame her for wanting to make a statement about the pickup lines. That is a prime example of the schools dictating things they shouldn’t be dictating, to the detriment of many. I don’t pretend to have a logistical solution to every school’s traffic problem, but you know, when I was a kid, those issues didn’t exist. You either got on the bus or you walked home. A few parents came to pick up their kids at school, usually because they needed to go somewhere other than home. They had crossing guards to handle the traffic that did exist (our school was on a major highway). Maybe parents are more paranoid now or whatever, but why does that translate into the school’s right to tell us what to do? But back to the mom on the horse. I feel that regardless of her motives and regardless of what the school employees think about horses, it was none of their business. They could make a rule against horses on their property (so the child would have to walk off of school property to get on the horse), but that’s it. Frankly I feel that their holding that child was false imprisonment.

    We are supposed to celebrate diversity and individuality and freedom in this country, yet school administrators don’t seem to understand this. When I took my first education course, one of the first lessons was that I’d encounter lots of things I totally disagreed with among my students, but I’d have to get over my prejudices, because it’s not up to me to decide what a child should eat at home, how often her parent should wash her face or take her to the dentist, and whether she ought to have enough information to report that Uncle X got his girlfriend pregnant again. Schools are there to impart knowledge to children during school hours, and to provide an environment wherein this can be done safely. The rest really none of their business in my opinion. But do you think they will ever get that memo?

  5. megan says:

    I walked to school when I was in 1st-3rd grade because the elementary school was a block and a half from my house. That ended in 4th grade when the new school ended up being too far away and in on the border of the scary part of town.

    I would think that with schools today touting how “green” they are trying to be, they would encourage bike riding or other means of transportation that don’t involve gas guzzlers, especially if the kids do live close enough to walk.

    In a very small way I can understand the schools being worried that a child is going to walk home unaccompanied, and that something might happen to that child on the way from school to home. Schools might be afraid that they may be held liable if the child doesn’t make it home. It’s an unfortunate fact of the times in which we live.

    What bothers me is that a fuss is made even when the parent is there to accompany the child. One would think that the parent would be the final word in a child’s safety, and that the school would feel a sense of relief that they are free of responsibility for the next nine hours.


  6. Otto Mann says:

    Banning kids from biking to school is horrendous! Especially considering how bad of a problem obesity is with children nowadays. Yes, God forbid they get any exercise.


  7. mssc54 says:

    All six of us kids had to and from school each day unless it was raining. Then mom would load us all into her Chevy station wagon and cart us the nearly three miles.

    Being an “older parent” I already have a couple of decades experience dealing with our school system. I do not ever hesitate to call the principal up when I have a concern or question. I have her number loaded in my cell phone.

    This whole issue gets right down to the school rememvbering that our children are essentially “the customer” and the school is there to provide for our student-children.

    One of my biggest pet peeves are the fund raisers! How dare the schools use our children as their surogate sales agents! And how do your reconcile the Federal Child Labor laws with sending children out to sell wrapping paper, coupon books, candy bars or whatever?!

    Also they teach our children to eat healthy but then send them home with stickers on their shirts announcing which fast food joint is offering the school a percentage of the proceeds that day if we just cart our family down and order their junk food!


    • nikki says:

      I’ve never heard someone say that about fund raisers. IDK how it works there but here you can choose not to participate and I think it’s a great way to earn money for the school…which is not doing so well. We always know where the money is going for each fund raiser and although it does get kids out there to sell I don’t think it comes close to going against the Federal Child Labor Laws. IMHO.

      • Tosha says:

        I HATE fundraisers.. Here they sell the same thing every single year and the first fundraiser comes home 3 days after school starts (I kid you not)..

        On our paperwork they clearly state they do not want kids selling to 1. strangers, 2. going door to door or anything like that. they just want family and friends and thats it..

        We never participate because no one we know wants to buy a 15$ tub of cookie dough that tastes like crud no matter what the cause is for. Even more so with the economy the way it is and so many of the people we know being laid off lately. After my kids feeling let down and dejected from no one buying from them.. I no longer even attempt to participate in the fundraisers.

        Our schools have never sent home stickers or anything like that for fast food. They have sent home gift certificates for a free kids meal from the local mexican restraunt for making the A or A/B honor roll. They have always done that and I think its a good reward.. We do get letters all the time reminding us of healthy snacks and ways to make dinner healthier.. it can be rather annoying..

        • mssc54 says:

          At the elementary school our children attend the children have a sticker studk to the front of their shirt once a week.

          Either Chucky Cheese or ChickFilet or some local pizza joint. And of course the children are encouraged by their teachers, “Remember tonight is Chucky Cheese night! I may see you there.”

          I’ve spoken with the principal and she tells me that it is a fund raiser. My response is, “Actually it is clever marketing of an individual’s business to a captured market and all they have to do is print the stickers and deliver them to the school. There are enough things for parents to discuss with their young children without having to add why their school teaches them to eat healthy and exercise AND wants them to go and eat fast food.”

        • SKL says:

          I too hate fundraisers. Principal, if you want money, just ask me for money, tell me what you plan to do with it, and I’ll see how much I can spare. Maybe I can help with an in-kind donation, or volunteer work, or maybe I could help you get some discounts with some companies I know. Or, how about you have the kids make something that they can sell, so all the cash (except minor raw materials) goes to the school. It’s dumb to manipulate kids and their families to sell/buy something that nobody wants (especially not at those prices), where much of the money goes to an outside company that really isn’t providing much bang for our buck.

          As for the fast food promotions, I agree that the schools ought to take the junk food aspect into account. If it’s only once a month, I could see it, but not every week. Parents can always say “no,” but schools should nevertheless be responsible about the messages they send. Maybe they could do a deal with a restaurant that serves healthy food, or have them adapt their menu for “school night.” Whatever, some more thinking needs to happen.

  8. nikki says:

    Hmm I guess I could have. I lived with in a block of the school. I just walked with friends. I don’t understand why any school wold ban it?! I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. If we lived closer I’d let Bailey or I’d ride with him. Parents should have the say in how their children get to school and their child’s safety.

  9. Just a Mom says:

    I rode my bike to school until I got into High School. We had a group of about 15 of us that all met at one girls house in the morning and rode together from there. I have a bunch of great memories from those mornings!
    My kids have not had the opportunity to ride their bikes to school because we are just a little bit too far away. If they could they would!
    If I have a problem with what I consider a “Stupid” rule at school then I go to the principal first thing. The majority of the time they will work with you on things.

  10. Tosha says:

    As far as schools controlling what students do outside of school hours.. You dont want me to get started on that subject..

    We never could walk to school or bike. we lived too far away.. same now.. we live too far away for the kids to walk

    • Tosha says:

      PLUS.. people are psycho now days and you cant trust IMO a child to walk very far away from home and trust that nothing will happen to them..

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