Australian children too cosseted to ride to school

Amid all the other analysis that doesn't mention the elephant in the room. : Parents don't let the kids ride to school because they know how they, and other (registered, licensed drivers) drive, and they don't intend to change or tolerate being slowed down for anyone on a bicycle (other cars parallel parking, double parked and or driving erratically with a phone to the ear are all fine)
Anyway - positive bit here:
Peter Johnston, the principal of Bourke Street Public School in Surry Hills, said nearly a quarter of his 140 students were riding to school since the City of Sydney had built a cycleway past the front door.

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The City of Sydney course specifically attempts to address scenarios like that faced by this crashing child.

Outcomes elicited on the course specific to this incident include

  • Hours of basic control skillspractice - inc -slow speed cycling & close proximitycycling
  • Awareness that Pedestrians do have right of way on footpath ... and ought not be frightened
  • Bells are only to let people know you are there- be careful not to frighten people or seem bossy with your bell
  • If there isn't space (ped's don't budge) it may be better to dismount and walk

Children and their accompanying adults are legally entitled to use footpaths

I believe the unsaid bit in the story related is that the man caused the crash either by refusing to move or moving into the cyclist space, intentionally,  - Maybe he didn't bother to turn his head to see if it was a child, and/or he didn't care in the bid to "mark his territory."

edit: you'll find others will relate stories where some pedestrians intentionally adopt aggressive postures (including crucifix pose) even on SUPs , maybe one thing to add to Safety/awareness courses.

Pedestrians who do this could be in breach of road rule 236, pedestrians must not obstruct . Be good to see police target this, imagine the outcry!

The pedestrian in this scenario didn't even honor the rule about the under-12 cyclists.

Either that or after he caused the crash* his "defensive mentality" kicked in and he sprouted the garbage to justify his actions / throw off the victim.

*my assumptions

Our local Primary School advised us that Education Department "guidelines" were to advise parents not to let their kids walk or ride to school until year 4.

I persevered riding with my son. The school advised me he was not allowed to leave his bike in the school grounds, so we chained it to the bus stop seat. One day it disappeared.  One of the kids told my son "a bus driver" had taken it.  I rang Sydney buses local depot to be told I could have the bike back after I paid a fine for "trespassing".

A threat of a phone call to Gladys (in opposition at the time) and a promise to not do it again got the bike returned.

We decided from then on, walking was the easier option.

How hard does it have to be?

Trespassing?  If they did it to me I'd want it hand delivered back to my door with a smile or I'd be getting the police involved for theft.

Here's the irony, the same parents who won't let their kids ride to school because it's too dangerous, are the ones in huge 4wd's who double park, park in no stopping zones, overtake in school zones, endangering theirs and other kids in the process. 

I see it every time I take my kids to school. I dare say more children have been killed or injured by this behaviour than by riding to school.

This country is so backward.


Given it is ride2school day tomorrow, I spoke to the principal at my kids' primary school today.  The school is surrounded by reasonably quiet streets, though some are narrow and there is a tendency for displays of the Sydney rat running driving culture. She advised that although the school does not have a policy on riding to school, it is actively discouraged for two reasons:

1. The streets are not safe for children to ride on. Three children have been slightly injured after being hit by cars in "recent" years, including one on the pedestrian crossing outside the school.  

2. The school playground is already very full and there is no place for bikes to be stored.  Some kids were allowed to chain their bikes to the outside of the school fence but these were stolen after a short period.

Safety of children is of course paramount however I find it strange that a school can dictate the method by which children arrive at school.  Only seems to encourage the cotton wool mentality?  Lack of bike storage is a matter of priorities.  There seems to be space behind the demountables, same place that bikes were kept when I went to school....

1. The streets are not safe for children to ride on. Three children have been slightly injured after being hit by cars in "recent" years, including one on the pedestrian crossing outside the school.

Problem statement: Cars are injuring children, even on pedestrian crossings

Solution : change the problem statement (aka paradigm shift) to : Children are taking unwarranted risks on almighty car hunting grounds

Therefore correct  solution : Children are discouraged from being in the proximity where cars have unfettered rights to kill and maim, until they get their license to do the same.

How about this:
Problem statement: Principals have virtually no power to affect the safety of the road environment.
Solution: Change the problem statement to: Principals are avoiding their responsibility to make the roads safe.
Therefore correct solution: Blame principals for children not riding to school.

No power ? They can talk to their local council and RTA, Police etc about road safety problems. They can get involved with the local bike and pedestrian plans to get bike lanes leading to the school. They can lobby councillors. They can get the P and C to do do this too. I think most just dont see it as a priority unless parents get together and badger the principal, as has happened at some schools. 

My P&C has been lobbying the (ex) RTA, the local police and local council for years to improve road safety around our school. These groups don't liaise easily it seems and without supportive individuals nothing gets done. This is why we only see improvements when there's a serious accident. We're not giving up but it's not easy.


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