Tip of the day: crossing busy streets with kids
Crossing a busy arterial with two young riders is sure to rattle any normally calm, cool and collected parent. Many parents simply won’t do it: “Too many busy roads to cross where I live” is one of the most common reasons I hear from parents for why they don’t get around town on bikes with kids.
How do you get everyone across safely and keep what’s left of your sanity? Like everything else in life, it takes lots of practice. And you have to cross many intersections with kids before it becomes second nature.
We cross several of these intersections on a daily basis and have come up with a system that works for all of us and allows for safe crossing.
- I make sure all pedalers are alert, paying attention and are ready to cross as soon as traffic clears (foot on pedal ready to take off and no jokes or story telling while we’re waiting to cross, this is serious business.)
- We all call out the colors of the cars as they pass. “I see a red one to the right, and a blue one to the left”
- When we all agree it’s safe to cross, we call out the color of the cars we’re waiting for in each direction: “After the red car on the right and the yellow car on the left”
- Then I say, “are you ready to go”? And if the kids say yes, we take off together
This system works well for us. The past couple of weeks, our nine-year-old has been “calling” the intersections for us. She takes pride in being in charge of our safety.
Sometimes a car will stop for us (which they are not required by law to do for cyclists).
Cars who stop for bikes usually give me pause. Do I wave them along and wait for a natural hole in traffic? Or do I accept their gracious gift and cross while they hold up a line of cars? Sometimes it’s more dangerous when a car stops because for every driver who takes the time to stop, there are 10 more behind them who aren’t so patient and may swerve around to pass on the right or the left or where ever they can squeeze by. I always watch the line of cars and make sure there aren’t any jockeying to pass before we head into the intersection.
The kids know to make eye contact with the drivers and make sure they really are stopped for us before we proceed.
Regardless, the driver of the stopped car always gets a big wave and a smile. They helped send a positive message about drivers by stopping. We strive to return the sentiment and let them know bicyclists see and appreciate their efforts.
Do you have any tips about crossing busy roads with kids?
Next up in our transitions series: It’s not you, it’s me