In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the majority of children walked or biked to school. Today, however, fewer than fifteen percent of children travel to school in this manner. Walking or biking to school can offer important health benefits for your child, but there are several factors you should consider before deciding if your child is ready for this task.
Most experts agree that children under the age of ten are not old enough to bike or walk to school without adult supervision because they lack the mental capacity to fully understand the rules of the road and how to avoid potentially dangerous situations. If your child is over the age of ten, accompany him or her on the way to school to see how well safety rules such as looking for cars before crossing an intersection, crossing streets at corners and not between parked cars, and stopping for all stop signs are obeyed.
Obviously, the distance your child must travel will come into play. Most experts recommend that a child walk no more than one mile to school or bike no more than three miles, but this will depend on your child’s physical fitness level and whether or not there are any special medical conditions to consider. A sedentary, overweight child who suffers from asthma will not be able to travel as far as a child of average body weight who is in perfect health and regularly participates in athletic activities.
The conditions associated with your individual neighborhood are also something to consider. For example, if you know that the family at the end of the street has a dog that’s often running loose, biking or walking to school puts your child at risk of being threatened or bitten. You may also run into problems if your community does not have properly designed sidewalks and crosswalks or if there are any unusually busy intersections your child must cross on the way to school.
One way to make biking or walking to school safer for children is to create a Walking School Bus or Bicycle Train. This is a group of children who travel to school together. Depending on the age of the children, they may be under the guidance of a high school student or adult chaperone. To encourage physical fitness, many schools and parent/teacher associations are forming these types of transportation alternatives.
Protect Your Rights
Even if a parent takes every possible safety precaution, it’s impossible to account for the actions of others. If your child is injured by a careless driver while walking or biking to school, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other expenses. The experienced attorneys at Holzer Edwards are dedicated to representing Idaho residents who have been injured due to the negligence of others.