Helping Kids Bike to School

Kids who bike to school may find no-bike policies when they get there, in spite of the federal funding program Safe Routes to School.

Kid And Bike

Fearing liability, some principals have recently instituted no-biking policies in schools.

Photo By Victor Grigas

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Kids who want to bike to school might face a rough road, writes Linda McIntyre for Landscape Architecture Magazine (August 2012). Following up on an issue profiled in Bicycling magazine last April 2012, McIntyre reports that, in an effort to err on the side of caution, some principals have recently instituted no-biking policies in schools. Although the federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program gives money to states for local initiatives that encourage biking and walking to school, school administrators aren’t always enthusiastic. Safety risks are a concern, but fear of liability may be the real culprit behind no-biking policies.

The worry is somewhat unfounded. “It’s less of an issue than one might think,” one SRTS volunteer told McIntyre. In order to be liable for injuries, schools would have to fail to address a known hazard. In the 7-year history of SRTS, with over 4,500 schools participating, there haven’t been any lawsuits involving injured children.

Even in areas where schools welcome cyclists and safe routes are established, there might not be a culture that encourages biking, notes McIntyre. Proactive community members that request bike racks and organize rides play an important role in encouraging the future generation of cyclists.