Let’s Ride! Back to School on Bikes

Davis-bicyclingby Maria Contreras Tebbutt 

Remember when most kids walked or rode their bikes to school?  What happened?
The Bike Campaign has asked hundreds of parents who give a variety of reasons, but when you look underneath all the excuses, the main reason is that they themselves don’t walk or ride a bike themselves.
A recent study presented at UCD’s Department of Transportation Studies, showed that the reason that far fewer 16 year olds are getting driver’s licenses, is because it’s easier for them to have their parents drive them around. Let’s think seriously about the message we send our kids when we become their personal chauffeurs. Many parents contacted the Bike Garage this summer  looking for internships to get their kids of their duffs and electronic devices. It was sad to see parents driving their kids to the Bike Garage.   Left to their own devices (pun intended), most adolescents will exert as little energy as possible to get their needs met.  If you drive them, they can sleep in later.  If you don’t, your kids will learn how to manage time and a healthier way to get their needs met.
The Bike Campaign is serious about reducing car trips to schools.  Streets are for people, not just for cars.  When there are too many cars dropping off kids at schools, it makes streets more hazardous for pedestrians and kids on bikes.  Teach your kids how to walk or ride to school.  Go with them, especially if they’re under the age of 10! Look for the least-trafficed streets, make yourselves highly visible, obey the rules of the road, talk about what road signs mean, insist that you all wear helmets and know what to do in case of emergency.  This kind of parent interaction will pay big dividends for many years to come and your kids become more self-motivated, responsible and healthy.  Imagine confident kids getting themselves to school and extracurricular activities.
If you or your kids would like to be a part of this revolution, there is training available for parents and kids about how to ride a bike, rules of the road, cycling skills and basic bike maintenance.  The Bike Campaign has trained hundreds of riders and the Bike Garage has new-to-you street legal  bikes, helmets, locks and lights available for all who would like to dump the gas pump and use a bike pump. Contact Maria Contreras Tebbutt at (530) 753-1125 or funmaria@sbcglobal.net  for more information about local cycling skills classes and FREE bikes and training for those in need.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Delia .


    I need to shut up after this comment. I will.

    Why don’t my friends take the “it takes a village” attitude more often?

    This is nothing new. 40 years ago an old couple told me they were sad to see a toddler sitting on her front lawn all alone. The old couple figured out her mom stuck her out there while the boyfriend visited

    The old couple kept a watchful eye on the little toddler from their retirement home, constantly peaking out their front window until the boyfriend left and the woman retrieved her little girl.

    “Why, oh why don’t you just call CPS? Why are you spending all your precious retirement hours peaking out your front window, for Gods sake?

    The old man answered me, “can you guarantee me that the little girl will be better off if I call CPS? Then shut up and let me do it my way.”

    1. Matt Williams

      Delia, when I rode my bike to school (or walked to school) I never had a chaperone.  Why is a chaperone needed?  The safety of our children isn’t any worse now than it was when you and I were children.  What is different is that we now have media (of all sorts) providing us with information that we really don’t need access to.  The news broadcast each night starts with the expression “good evening” and then proceeds to tell us all the reasons why the evening was anything but good.

      As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” or if you prefer, as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

  2. Delia .

    Jaycee. It scared a lot of us. She was walking to her bus stop for God”s sake, within sight of her step dad. It was in the news for a long time and many parents did not easily forget those news stories, Matt. Fear does not have to bee 100% rational to be real. My friend was bitten by a brown recluse. I was terrified of brown spiders for a long while after that. Irrational, but real.

  3. Tia Will


    “Why, oh why don’t you just call CPS? “

    Several events involving CPS may provide some insight into why some may hesitate to contact CPS.

    1. Years ago, I made a report to CPS of a little boy ( age 3 or 4 ) who was brought into the clinic by his mother who was a regular gyn patient of mine. The child had a large bruise and abrasion over his eye. When I asked him “what happened” expecting that I was going to hear about a fall or game induced injury, he completely guilelessly hit himself in the head with his hand and said “daddy”. My patient tried to laugh it off, and tried to stop me from making my legally required report. I never saw her again as a patient, but did see her around the facility and so was aware that the child was left with the parents which may or may not have been the optimal outcome. I suspect that she managed to convince them that my concerns were unfounded.

    2. The case of Tatiana Garcia, a five year old drowned by her mother who was known to have severe mental health problems and who had made statements admitting that she was unable to care for her children. They were left in her custody despite this admission and despite the fact that police were called for a “wellness” check on the day of Tatiana’s death.

    3. Most recently, we have baby Justice who was discharged home with his mother and biologic father despite the fact that the father was a supplier of meth and the mother had been documented as using meth throughout the pregnancy and the fact that baby Justice tested positive for meth at birth.

    I know that I have strayed off topic, but I will link. It seems to me that we have achieved a remarkable lack of balance in how we approach child raising in our society. We have some parents who are so overprotective as to prevent their children from developing any individual responsibility or self care skills. On the other side, we have some parents who are so self absorbed whether by addiction, or work, or other activities that they prefer to child rearing that their children are essentially left in the care of surrogates or left to their own devices.

    Combine this with a CPS and Family Justice system that places biologic parental possession ( aka family reunification) above the welfare of children and you have a recipe for the above kind of situations.

    I have no easy answers but have had plenty of opportunity for observation due to my profession.

  4. Delia .

    I sat in the ER one day with my own kids and overheard a mom coaching a little girl on what to say to the doctor, her teacher, and her grandma when they asked what happened to her brother. I immediately told the ER receptionist and doctor. I passed the receptionist a written note.
    And the whole time she threatened the little boy he’d get the belt worse if he told his grandma.

  5. Tia Will


    What a horrible story. As an ob/gyn I have a definite opinion on how some of these problems could be resolved. They are called LARCs for long acting reversible contraceptives. There are four types currently on the market in the United States. Three intrauterine devices, one injection, and one subdermal implant. All are safer than a pregnancy. All should be free and readily available.

    Approximately 1/2 of the pregnancies in the United States are not planned. This statistic has hardly budged during the past 30 years. While there does not seem to be a difference in pregnancy outcomes whether the pregnancy is planned or unplanned, pediatricians that I have spoken with do believe that there is a difference in the outcome and well being of the children between those planned and those who are accidental.

    If one is not actively attempting pregnancy because one wants and has the both short term and long term ability to raise and nourish a child, then one should not have one. This includes both financial and temperamental willingness and ability to nurture a child through infancy, childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood ideally neither over protecting so as to raise a child unprepared to build there own life, nor neglectful either physically or emotionally.  This is both a matter of individual and societal responsibility.  If an individual is too ill ( regardless of the cause of their impairment) to nurture a child, it becomes the responsibility of the state to see that the needs of the child supersede those of the parent whether the parent is capable of understanding this or not.

  6. quielo

    As a recent arrival to Davis I feel the ability of my children to ride their bikes to school may be the biggest benefit they have received. The youngest two are going into 5th and they love the independence of making their own way to school. We recently purchased a home here and being on the bike path was a key consideration.


    Hard to believe people are not taking advantage of this. “five kids they don’t know” I do not chaperone my kids to school, though I may threaten to if their behavior is bad, but after a few months they know all the kids who ride the bike path.

    1. Barack Palin

      Good “on topic” post Quielo.  My kids rode their bikes to school too.  I don’t feel one can get much safer than Davis as far as biking and bike paths go.  It was good for my kids because it taught them to be independent and not have to rely on mom and dad to get them to school.

      1. quielo



        Not sure about your kids but with mine the less Dad is around to embarrass them the better they like it. If I need to get serious with my son I suggest that maybe I will show up at his school and kiss him on the play ground in front of his friends. The thought shocks him and his belief that I will actually do it gets him into line.

        1. Barack Palin

          Been there.  Where I used to live I would drive my youngest to school every once in a while in our family Caravan.  She would get so embarassed she would make me drop her off at a side gate to the school.  Once I picked her up and purposely drove up and honked my horn while she was standing with five of her friends.  She didn’t ask for too many rides after that.

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