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My 12 year old son has expressed a desire to ride his bike to school in the mornings. We live fairly close to the school so it would be about a 10 minute bike ride for him to get there. My husband thinks he will be fine and we should let him but I can’t help feeling worried. What are your thoughts?
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The first question is, is it safe for your child to ride a bike to school every morning? Are there vehicles on the road on the way to school? If yes, is there a bike lane? Another question is, are other kids bike in the morning to go to school too?
I understand your concern. As mothers, we always worry about our kids’ safety and we tend to be overprotective with them. This is very natural for us moms but we have to trust our kids too. They would not ask something if they feel that they cannot do it or if they will be uncomfortable in the first place.
I suggest that you do your own ocular inspection with your child. Observe the road and if you see something that poses a possible risk, tell him. It will also make you feel at ease. If you are still worried, you can also bike with him to school if you have the luxury of time. You will not just feel comfortable knowing your child arrived at school safely, but you have also found a physical activity that is very good for your health. Talking about hitting 2 birds with one stone, right?
Our children will ask to do things and as parents, we cannot always say no just because we are worried that they might get hurt. Growing up is inevitable and we are all leaning in that direction. We should learn to trust them and let them know that.
I think that's a great age to ride a bike to school. I love the tip of doing the ride with him on the weekends to check his awareness and safety choices. I've seen kids as young as 7 or 8 ride their bikes to school in our little town. I know if I gave my son the OK to do that he would be thrilled and it would boost his confidence. It shows that you trust him and he's capable of doing things on his own.
I'm sure he does this already, but encourage helmet-wearing and have him pick out a new lock for the bike rack at school. In no time, you may be able to ask him to run an errand or two for you! Best of luck to the both of you!
It sounds like a great age to consider letting your son ride to school. It will probably ease your mind more if you do a few walk beside while he rides to be familiar with any tricky intersections and/or driveways that you can help him be aware of when he starts riding.
If you do decide that the time is right for him to ride on his own, it will be a good way to help convey that you trust him and allow for him to demonstrate his autonomy and independence.
Well done for having a son who feels confident enough to want to cycle to and from school alone. This is right around the time young teens starts pushing for more independence and as parents who are responsible for their safety, it can be difficult to decide whether they are ready for more "freedom".
I think that there are a number of factors that you can take into account when making this decision:
1. Are there other kids in the neighborhood that ride to school? If so, you can insist that he cycles in a group for safety.
2. Are there any main roads or intersections on the school route? If there is a busy main road or intersection, it will set your mind at ease if you know that there is a pedestrian crossing or a traffic warden that monitors that area in the mornings.
3. How responsible is your son? If you feel your son is responsible and will obey all the rules of the road, you should be less anxious about him cycling to school.
A good starting point might be to ride the route with your son a few times and monitor his cycling safety and road awareness. You can do this on the weekends. If you think he is ready, you can always follow him at a distance by car or bike for a few days to be sure that he is coping.
Don't forget to have a general safety conversation with him - especially if he will be riding by himself - and make sure he knows what to do in the event of an emergency.
Good luck with this new stage of parenthood where you're finding the balance between holding back and giving freedom.
If you allow him to ride 10 minutes away for other activities (and he is responsible with it), I don't see why he can't ride his bike to school.
What are your concerns? Is the bike route safe?
I would weigh all of the pros and cons together and see what develops. You can always ride along with your son at first to see how it goes and then back off the supervision as he demonstrates that he is mature and responsible with this freedom.
I hope that it all works out for you both.