Non-custodial ex-husband forbids children riding bikes

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
By Yokota Fritz

Does anybody know where Randy's girlfriend can get help for this situation? Posted here with his permission. They live in Longmont, Colorado.
I am writing this on behalf of my girlfriend and her two kids. There has been an issue with my girlfriend's Ex-husband about the fact that we allow her two children (age 7 and 11 as of March 9th 2009) to commute to school by themselves on a bicycle. The Ex contacted there Mediator Arbitrator and complained, and the Med/Arb set a ruling forbidding the children to commute by bicycle by themselves.

All of us commute by bicycle all over town, and my girlfriend and I both commute to Boulder. If we were to continue to transport ourselves by bicycle, her two children need to go it alone to their school in the mornings. We had ridden with them for over 4 months, the same route everyday, and taught them all of the rules of the road.

As we felt the youngest lacked the responsibility to do this on his own bike, we set them up with a Yuba Mundo (, a cargo bike that is built to transport multiple passengers as well as cargo. I installed an extra set of handle bars on the rear of the bike for the youngest to hold on to. My girlfriend and I made several test rides with them to and from their school to ensure they not only operated the bicycle safely, but that they also felt safe on the bike and the route.

The route they travel is as safe as any route in town, and 90% of it is on streets with bike lanes, the other 10% in on streets either wide enough to have a bike lane, or little to no traffic. They use crosswalks with lights, or intersections with stop lights or 4 way stops to cross major intersections.

I feel a very dangerous precedent is being set here that should concern us all. I am asking for your help to fix this situation.
Given that my major mission is to promote bicycling as a safe activity, I'm very concerned about these kinds of misinformed rulings.


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I'm with dad. Accompany the kids still...
I used to walk to and from school by myself, in the San Francisco Bay Area at age 8, I'd say riding at 7 and 9 isn't much different. I wonder if they walked rather than biked, would the situation be different. Meaning, does the father have issue with them riding or commuting to school alone in any fashion?

At some point, as a parent, you need to let go, release yourself from the burden that your child isn't safe without you around.

I say let them ride.
Really? I wouldn't let my 7 and 11 year old ride BY THEMSELVES just because they can ride a bike and obey the traffic laws. No matter how safe you are on your bike, there are some SICK people out there that would snatch up those kids in an INSTANT if they were alone. I mean come on people...sure don't overprotect your kids but be reasonable!
It seems to me that the point isn't necessarily the bike riding in itself but rather the fact that the the kids are unsupervised. if the boyfriend and/or mother are that concerned that the kids can't ride them maybe one of them needs to go with. I agree with the dad that I wouldn't let my 7 & 11 year old children out without supervision, even if it was just down the street. There are too many variables (read pediphiles) out there to warrent not being the least bit concerned for the childrens safety.
"pediphile" - is that a freudian slip?

I walked by myself to school starting with Kindergarden. There aren't any more pedophiles today than there were back then - it just gets more publicity so people aquire the irrational fears. Certainly this depends on *where* the child is walking - Longmont is a pretty tame town - at the age of ten I was walking from Niwot to Longmont with a big plastic bag collecting cans from the ditch for a scouts fundraiser.

In fact, if anything the streets are more safe - haven't you heard the pedophiles are all trolling the internet these days!
I have to agree with murphstahoe. Most children are abused and kidnapped by people they know. It does depend where you live. I honestly don't know where the irrational fear takes hold, but there are statistics for this thing. Draw conclusions from reality, not from gut feelings.
There are issues here that extend way beyond cycling. Custody issues are about power and control.I doubt that there is anything that can be done to change this guy's mind- he most likely knows the family does not use a car and wants to make life difficult.

as to 7- i am very liberal on the freedom of kids to move around their environments. But... at almost 10, i am only now comfortable with my daughter riding alone in the neighborhood. Not because of pedophiles (worst excuse ever!!!!) but because she is small enough that she is not easily seen in the bike lane.

Here is an excellent site about raising independent kids with lots of real info on the true #'s about crime and 'danger'.

Ten years old is the base age for kids biking to school on their own. Each parent has to make their own decision based on their child and the conditions on their route to school.
I'm concerned what kind of precedent this would set and I wonder what authority the mediator has to regulate the parents transportation choice.
I think it's great this parent has set up the kids with a system of Active Transportation that works for them and they obviously feel it is a safe option. Does the Mediator cycle this area? Do they know the issue completely?

As far as the safety issue- the number of abductions in the US have not increased over the previous four decades (though coverage of them has). However our childhood obesity rate HAS tripled as the amount that our kids walk or bike to school has gone from over 50% in the 70's down to about 10% nationwide. We are protecting our kids so much we are killing them. The danger is not out there, it's right with us.

Shane- Safe Routes to School Program Manager.
The ruling may relate to being alone vs the bike safety thing. There's a lot of kooks out there. Children that age probably shouldn't be that far from a responsible adult.
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