The increased number of pedalers around the school means a few biker, non-biker conflicts. We’re learning from each other and need to keep an open dialog so we can live harmoniously on the shared streets and sidewalks.
One recent conflict surrounded whether or not bikes belong on the sidewalk. In King County, bikes are allowed on the sidewalk as long as they follow the rules of the road and the sidewalk.
Because the car traffic and bus traffic is thick in the morning and afternoon, our Bike to School team recommends that kid and parent cyclists jump up on the sidewalk and ride the last half block to the bike racks in the school yard. It’s the safest place for bikes.
Recently, a non-biker parent had some words with a biker family about riding on the sidewalk. She is adamant that bikes don’t belong on the sidewalk ever, to the point of instructing her children to stretch out holding hands and block the sidewalk when bikes are coming. Even though most riders are extremely polite, give pedestrians the right of way and use voice or a bell when passing, non-biker thinks bikes belong in the road, period!
These conflicts happen. I’ve found the best way to diffuse them is to be positive and friendly. Sometimes it’s hard to be nice, but I really try. Nobody is perfect though, and I can’t pretend that I don’t ever get irritated and I’m sure others do with me as well.
Bike to School Month is about encouraging more parents to try biking with their kids and hopefully to make it a habit. If more parents join us, our biker numbers will increase thus reducing car traffic. That’s the idea anyway.
My kids mostly ride in the road. We do have a few busy streets close to our house that I prefer to avoid on my bike when solo. Since these busy roads are the direct way to less trafficked ones, I take them anyway. I especially don’t want my kids riding on these streets. When we can’t avoid a busy road, we simply hop on the the sidewalk for a few blocks until we reach a non-busy road. We’re always polite and friendly and gracious and so far have avoided conflict.
How about you? Had any problems with riding on the sidewalk with kids?
I hope the moms out there had a nice Mother’s Day.