Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Walking and cycling to school in the US: verboten

This is probably unfair to the monolinguals who disagree with me because they will have a hard time finding similar horror stories in France and Germany because of the language barrier (I can't find any myself, however), but -- pursuant to my previous blog post about walking in the US -- I just came across one report about a schoolchild not being allowed to ride a bike to school and another about a school child not being allowed to walk to school.

In the cycling case, the school actually warned the parents and then had a state trooper come in to greet them one morning to prevent the child from locking its bike up on school grounds.

In the walking case, a number of passersby (in cars) called 911 when they saw a child walking down the road. A policeman picked up the child and drove him to soccer practice -- but also reprimanded the parents and informed them that they could be charged with "child endangerment" if anything happened to the kid.

As I said recently, Americans live in fear. In this case, as in so many others, the fear is exaggerated:

Critics say fears that children will be abducted by strangers are at a level unjustified by reality. About 115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year, according to federal statistics; 250,000 are injured in auto accidents.

In Germany -- and in England, where I witnessed events a few weeks ago -- school kids fill public spaces in the morning and afternoon. It is hard to imagine a school not letting kids walk or cycle over here, and the German police would definitely laugh in your face if you called them to report a child walking or cycling.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed: Children are even strongly encouraged to walk or cycle to school