Bike-to-School Bans

I’m sorry, but the wrong-headedness of this is mind-boggling. From Streetsblog:

As schools across the country open their doors for another year, Robert Ping of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership says students are increasingly facing “bans” against walking and biking to campus.

Even though they have no jurisdiction over students prior to their arrival at school, an increasing number of school administrators are discouraging students from riding or walking to school, some going so far as to remove bicycle parking facilities. Reportedly the concern is liability, but this also appears to be yet another symptom of our tendency in America to over-protect our children, while actually causing harm in the process. I wonder if it dawned on any of these over-zealous administrators to look at the statistics? If they did, they would be encouraging biking and walking and discouraging parents from driving their children to school.


21 Responses to “Bike-to-School Bans”

  • Jonathan says:

    UNbelievable!! If this ever hits my community, I will go down fighting. Meanwhile (on the topic of resulting childhood obesity), insurance companies won’t pay for preventative medicine, but will pay for gastric bypass/banding surgical procedures…

  • Nate Briggs says:

    Hey Alan:

    Conversely, in Denmark – where liability litigation seems to be under some control – schools are establishing car-free zones around themselves so kids don’t have to mix with motorized traffic (Copenhagenize).

    As I have mentioned before in your Comments section: if, in the early 1960s, I had suggested to my father that he drive me to school he would never have stopped laughing. Getting back and forth to school was MY job.

    Nate (Salt Lake City)

  • Alan says:


    Like you, I was expected to get myself to school on time. The choices were bike, foot, or bus; past a certain age a car ride was not even an option.

    We purposely live close to schools and we’ve required our kids to walk or ride to school (within reason – 100F+ days and stormy days are exempt). Sometimes it seems they think we’re crazy, but hopefully it’ll make more sense when they’re older.

  • Iain says:

    Beyond comprehension!

  • Erik Sandblom says:

    I also always walked or biked to school. Ironically, it seems the people who themselves walked or biked to school are the same ones who are now trying to get this activity banned. It seems “freedom machines” are the only sanctioned vehicles for this purpose ;-)

  • Nathan says:

    I have started “bike to school days” at the high school I teach in… if I told those kids they weren’t allowed to do it, they’d think it was rebellious and they’d all want to do it. Maybe I should try it…

    No, seriously, this is ridiculous… but some of the communities have been built in such a way that it is actually dangerous to expect kids to ride to school. Huge mistake… another school in our district was built in the wealthier part of town, and promoting a bike to school day over there would be tricky because there AREN’T safe routes for them. It’s all single lane roads, no sidewalks or shoulder, and that time of day the drivers are primarily teens racing to school. Scary.

    We’ve made some big mistakes that are hard to recover from… but we need to keep asking for good infrastructure..

  • Madness says:

    This is just dissent in the making. Try to stop us!

  • Larry Guevara says:

    @ Nathan

    I’m interested in hearing about your “bike to school days” and any incentives you have, and maybe a little about your “mistakes.”


  • nady says:

    i never rode my bike to school and now look at me. i dropped out of high school and never went to college. my social life also seemed to stop when i stopped getting on the big yellow
    school bus. (what i’m saying is that i never learned initiative by not having to get to school myself). on the other hand, my love affair and education of all things bicycle BEGAN when
    the official schooling ended. i was co-captain of my cross country running team in high school, and my coach wanted me to get a collegiate scholarship. but running was just the egg beaters for the cookie dough of a life in bikes.

  • Nicolas says:

    That makes me remind Lunar Park from Bret Easton Ellis where, because of the fear they have of the big cars on the road to school, the parents choose to use the same big cars to drive their own children to school.
    In my city (in France) a man explained me that 20 years ago, with other parents and the town police, they tried to explain to the motorized parents that it was dangerous to park just in front of the school entrance to let there their children. The reactions became very agressive, even against the policemen !

  • bongobike says:

    I think a critical mass event in front of the school board, and one every morning in front of the schools should get the point across…

  • Alan says:



  • bob says:

    here’s the link:
    I hate to say it but it’s 30 miles north of me.
    And it does follow the majority opinion around here.
    Critical Mass? Yeah, that’s four of us riding around.
    They removed the rack from the local elementary school,
    when I questioned the reasoning and solution to where my kids should
    lock up? Liability if a bike gets stolen, but they could lock up to a tree
    or the railing to the handicap ramp. I wouldn’t expect it from what seems
    to be a ‘progressive’ state. Guess bikes are not part of the equation.

  • Isara says:

    Similar thing is happening in San Jose. My friend took some photos of the letter that was sent home with the kids:

    Excerpt: “”7. Bicycles are not allowed as a means of transportation to or from school due to the nature of the traffic patterns as deemed by the San Jose Police Department.”

    Don’t ride your bike to school. It’s against the rules.

    There are NO bike parking facilities at Noddin Elementary School in San Jose, CA. And it looks like there may never be…

    This is a hand out given to all the parents at the beginning of the school year. “

  • Cycle Coaching says:

    I’m all for safer cycling but the fun of riding to school is one of the best parts of going to school from memory. There needs to be a happy balance.

  • Tim Guthrie says:

    1-Another reason to homeschool. Cycling is part of our homeschool PE. My 12yo has ridden RAGBRAI on his own bike. The whole thing.
    2-Blame trial attorneys and the Democratic party who backs them. Trial attorneys give huge money to democrats, democrats fight tort reform, trial attorneys sue anyone with deep pockets including schools, win huge awards, give to $ democrats, democrats fight tort reform….on and on and on. I am not trying to drag politics into this, but it is impossible to really discuss the suit happy climate in this counrty and ignore these facts.
    3-Ever spend 3 years and $75K fighting false claims made against you? Ever have to hire $600 an hour attorneys to fight for your right to stay in business? Ever been sued for 1.3 million when you did nothing wrong? I have.
    It is fear of the same b*stards that went after me (and got nothing) that drive schools to do this. It is not your guilt, it is your ability to pay (current law philosphy).

  • Greg Straight Edge says:

    Can obesity be banned as well?

  • Adrienne says:

    A few years ago, I had my, then, 9 year old daughter start walking to and from school by herself- a whopping 2 blocks. The first day the school would not release her because I did not send a letter. The second day, I sent a letter and they would not release her because they were not comfortable with my choice. When I pointed out that they had no objection to her walking TO school in the morning, they just looked away. I also pointed out that it was not their choice to make, the letter had been written and that if my daughter was not allowed to leave on her own the following day that I would lodge a formal complaint with the SFUSD. The next day, a letter appeared in my mailbox from the SF District Attorney outlining all of the ways that my daughter could die if she were allowed to walk home on her own. The letter hinted that I would be prosecuted if anything happened to her on the way home from school (but not on the way to school). I marched to the school, sat in front of the Principal, gave her the letter, and told her I would sue the school for harassment if I received even one more letter like this from any party (I made sure to leave my lawyer’s name and # to let her know I meant what I said).

    The world has gone insane. It is contagious. Make sure you are using the psychic sanitizer of reason and logic to fight it!

  • bongobike says:


    That is absolutely NUTS! These stupid, paranoind school administrators are also using similar excuses to have lock-downs, discipline and even arrest children for nothing more than carrying some aspirin to school, stip search them, etc. I am so glad my kids are adults now.

  • John S. says:

    There are places where students live close enough to school to bike or walk? In my hometown, students are bussed across town in order to achieve diversity requirements.

  • Julian says:

    Similar bans up my way in Seattle (Highline and Mercer Island school districts) inspired this rant:

    I’m hoping to help get this issue on Cascade’s (our big local bike advocacy group) state political agenda.

© 2011 EcoVelo™