Author Topic: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question  (Read 1903 times)

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MrTango

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2013, 11:20:49 AM »
If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that he is afraid of being hit by a car and therefore chooses not to cross until there are no cars around.

It's not normal, but I can't say I'd blame the kid for being scared: too many drivers can't seem to grasp the concept of a 4-way stop.

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2013, 05:31:14 PM »
My concern is that it creates confusion at the intersection.  It's a 3 way stop with the street he and I were on being the one that t-bones. Yesterday when I arrived I was traveling west as was the boy. He wanted to turn left and I needed to turn right. There was 3 cars heading south and 2 cars heading north. He waved through the first car heading south, and everyone waited for him to go, but he waved through a car heading north. Again everyone waited for him to go but he waved through another car and then another car with each time the new car arriving at the intersection and indicating for him to go. Only after all the cross cars were clear did he notice me behing him and then indicated for me to go around him to turn right. By this time another car had arrived behind me and another was approaching the from the north. I didn't wait to see if he was going to finally take his turn.

The other two days there wasn't as much traffic so his actions weren't as notable. But yesterday's created confusion for all drivers. All were patient, but it does concern me about an impatient driver getting caught up in the confusion.

I'm sure the kid is just trying to be safe by waiting for the cars to clear out, but I think you're right to be concerned. IMO, a bike safety talk would probably be good for this kid, so letting the school know it would be useful to offer one would be appropriate. Not to get the kid in trouble--he's clearly trying to ride safely--but so someone will teach him even better ways to ride safely.

The problem is that he's putting himself in a gray zone between a vehicle (with a specific place in the three-way stop queue) and a non-vehicle (who would be off the road and not part of the normal three-way stop queue). That gray zone can be dangerous because it's unpredictable. There's a defined order for going through a three-way stop for good reason. When you start changing up the order by waving people through when it's not their turn, it makes the situation less predictable and you have to count on everyone properly interpreting hand signals, which isn't exactly a precise form of communication.

IMO there are three good options for handling the three-way intersection on a bike. 1) Take your turn like the other vehicles, after checking to make sure that all the cars are stopping/stopped. 2) Get off of the bike and move out of the road, so you can cross the intersection as a pedestrian (either waiting for all the cars to clear or crossing when the person with the right-of-way waves you through). 3) Get the bike completely out of the road (onto the sidewalk or grass) and step back, so it's clear you're out of the queue, and wait for cars to clear before getting back on the road and riding through.

The problem in the OP is that he stays on the road (so the cars can't assume he's completely out of the queue and proceed as if he wasn't there), but he also isn't taking his turn, so he's messing up the normal order. From the OP's description, he ended up acting as "traffic cop" for the intersection, waving each person through, and the OP ended up missing her turn in the rotation because she was behind him and he was waving other people through instead. That's where it gets unsafe. If he doesn't want to go, he needs to move out of the way completely and let the system proceed without him.

Peregrine

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2013, 05:45:02 PM »
I know that the common rule for bicycles is that they are to be treated as any other vehicle on the road.....but that is not always feasible with younger kids.  I can cite a perfect example of being about 8 living in a rural area that had a 5 ft wide shoulder on one side of the road and less than a foot wide shoulder on the opposite side, bordered by a highway and a 6 foot deep ditch filled with blackberries.  I always rode on the side with the extra wide shoulder going in either direction.  It was just much safer, despite strictly speaking being against the rules of the road. 

In this case it sounds like the kid is trying to be extra cautious but isn't old enough to recognize that the abundance of caution might not be as safe as he thinks.  I would think that a quick call to the school to let them know that some bike safety lessons might be a great addition to their PE curriculum would work.  It may also be that this kid isn't even a student at the school, could be homeschooled or any number of other things.  If you live in a small town and see this kid regularly at a set time a call to the non-emergency police line might be in order.  If they can spare an officer to drive out and talk to the kiddo they might be able to teach him how to more safely navigate the intersection.

TootsNYC

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2013, 06:30:29 PM »
...but I can see potential for accidents with the cars by having an 8 yr old direct traffic.


But he's not "directing traffic." He's ONLY saying to each individual driver, "Go on ahead--don't wait on me."

I'm absolutely certain that not one of those drivers thinks that child has the authority that a traffic cop has. They're not (or they shouldn't be, and bad ont hem if they do) assuming his wave means "drive on through the intersection without looking for yourself."

And, yes, I think this is your issue.

TootsNYC

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2013, 06:43:02 PM »
I had cars pull up and turn right crossing my path as I was trying to go straight.


Given this, I'm really surprised that you think he needs to be corrected!

This is absolute proof that he is incredibly wise to be doing what he's doing.

QueenfaninCA

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2013, 06:50:26 PM »
I had cars pull up and turn right crossing my path as I was trying to go straight.


Given this, I'm really surprised that you think he needs to be corrected!

This is absolute proof that he is incredibly wise to be doing what he's doing.

No. If you are on a bicycle and want to go straight and there is a chance a car behind you might turn right you stay far enough left in the lane that the car needs to stay behind you and can't pull up to the left of you (but to the right of you if the lane is very wide).

Having done a lot of cycling, my experience is it's safest to behave as close as possible to a car and the drivers will treat you as such.

QueenfaninCA

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2013, 06:51:27 PM »
The problem is that he's putting himself in a gray zone between a vehicle (with a specific place in the three-way stop queue) and a non-vehicle (who would be off the road and not part of the normal three-way stop queue). That gray zone can be dangerous because it's unpredictable. There's a defined order for going through a three-way stop for good reason. When you start changing up the order by waving people through when it's not their turn, it makes the situation less predictable and you have to count on everyone properly interpreting hand signals, which isn't exactly a precise form of communication.

IMO there are three good options for handling the three-way intersection on a bike. 1) Take your turn like the other vehicles, after checking to make sure that all the cars are stopping/stopped. 2) Get off of the bike and move out of the road, so you can cross the intersection as a pedestrian (either waiting for all the cars to clear or crossing when the person with the right-of-way waves you through). 3) Get the bike completely out of the road (onto the sidewalk or grass) and step back, so it's clear you're out of the queue, and wait for cars to clear before getting back on the road and riding through.

The problem in the OP is that he stays on the road (so the cars can't assume he's completely out of the queue and proceed as if he wasn't there), but he also isn't taking his turn, so he's messing up the normal order. From the OP's description, he ended up acting as "traffic cop" for the intersection, waving each person through, and the OP ended up missing her turn in the rotation because she was behind him and he was waving other people through instead. That's where it gets unsafe. If he doesn't want to go, he needs to move out of the way completely and let the system proceed without him.

POD. Either behave like a car or like a pedestrian and make it clear which one it is.

TootsNYC

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2013, 06:58:03 PM »
Again, considering the stakes, I think he has every right to keep declining the taking of his turn until he feels safe.

Right now he is inconveniencing other drivers. They can surely cope with that in order to provide him with a feeling of absolute safety.

I'm a bit appalled that the idea of the OP's "missing her turn" is considered to trump his sense of safety.

Surely none of the cars are in actual danger of hitting one another at the T-intersection just because he keeps waving for drivers in cars to go first. (and even if they did hit one another, it would be a fender bender, probably without physical injury--not the same stakes as for him)

You think he'd be safe if he changed how he handled it. But you know what?
You don't have to live with the injuries if you're wrong--he does.

You cannot tell me that there is NO risk to him if he does what you want him to do. But it is true that his current plan DOES create a situation where he has no risk. By the time he goes across that intersection, there is NO chance of a car hitting him.

And frankly, whether he feels safe is far more important than whether you think he'd be safe.

And whether he FEELS safe is just as important as whether he IS safe.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 07:41:40 PM by TootsNYC »

MOM21SON

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2013, 07:05:52 PM »
Look, the kid doesn't want to go until he feels safe. That is absolutely, perfectly fine.

Stop trying to wave him through and get out of his way so he can get home.

If he were driving a car, he would be completely fine to pull over and wave you all on past him, and not proceed through the intersection until he knows its clear.

He's not *required* to keep riding into any situation that he doesn't want to.

As long as he's not getting in your way, he's perfectly all right.

i understand WillyNilly's point about "doing the expected thing." But if he pulls off to the side of the road (not clear if that's what he does) and GETS OFF HIS BIKE (which he does), then there's absolutely no confusion.

100%  Kids are hit on bikes every.single.day and you can never be too careful.  My son goes when he feels comfortable doing so and always has.

DottyG

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2013, 07:15:53 PM »
I love it when I have a long post to make and then I don't have to because someone's already done the work for me. :)

I can simply say, "Read everything Toot's has said above and consider my agreeing with her 110%" to this one.


Onyx_TKD

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2013, 09:12:10 PM »
Again, considering the stakes, I think he has every right to keep declining the taking of his turn until he feels safe.

Right now he is inconveniencing other drivers. They can surely cope with that in order to provide him with a feeling of absolute safety.

I'm a bit appalled that the idea of the OP's "missing her turn" is considered to trump his sense of safety.

Surely none of the cars are in actual danger of hitting one another at the T-intersection just because he keeps waving for drivers in cars to go first. (and even if they did hit one another, it would be a fender bender, probably without physical injury--not the same stakes as for him)

You think he'd be safe if he changed how he handled it. But you know what?
You don't have to live with the injuries if you're wrong--he does.

You cannot tell me that there is NO risk to him if he does what you want him to do. But it is true that his current plan DOES create a situation where he has no risk. By the time he goes across that intersection, there is NO chance of a car hitting him.

And frankly, whether he feels safe is far more important than whether you think he'd be safe.

And whether he FEELS safe is just as important as whether he IS safe.

There is nothing wrong with him waiting until all the cars are gone to cross the intersection. However, if he's going to do that, the safest thing to do would be to step completely out of the road with his bike. He could stand on the sidewalk or on the shoulder of the road, preferably with his feet completely off of the pedals so the drivers know he's not going to suddenly decide to enter the intersection. Then, all the cars can pass through according the normal rules of three-way stops, and he can cross when the intersection is clear and he feels safe.

If he doesn't feel safe crossing as a vehicle, that's perfectly ok. But he doesn't need to stay in the road and be involved in waving cars through. That doesn't make the situation safer. Instead, it just makes it the situation more confusing for the drivers.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2013, 10:33:35 PM »
Again, considering the stakes, I think he has every right to keep declining the taking of his turn until he feels safe.

Right now he is inconveniencing other drivers. They can surely cope with that in order to provide him with a feeling of absolute safety.

I'm a bit appalled that the idea of the OP's "missing her turn" is considered to trump his sense of safety.

Surely none of the cars are in actual danger of hitting one another at the T-intersection just because he keeps waving for drivers in cars to go first. (and even if they did hit one another, it would be a fender bender, probably without physical injury--not the same stakes as for him)

You think he'd be safe if he changed how he handled it. But you know what?
You don't have to live with the injuries if you're wrong--he does.

You cannot tell me that there is NO risk to him if he does what you want him to do. But it is true that his current plan DOES create a situation where he has no risk. By the time he goes across that intersection, there is NO chance of a car hitting him.

And frankly, whether he feels safe is far more important than whether you think he'd be safe.

And whether he FEELS safe is just as important as whether he IS safe.

I agree that it is important for him to feel safe. But when he has 2 adult women in cars waving for him to take his turn concurrently and another in her car well behind him all blocking any additional traffic, I'm not sure how much safer he could feel. Honestly, if he didn't feel safe going at that point, I don't think he should be riding his bike from school.

And yes, from his school shirt and back pack I do know that he is a student at the elementry school this occurs in front of.


Erich L-ster

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2013, 10:58:04 PM »
I have seen some (several) awful articles and videos of accidents wherein someone has stopped to let a pedestrian, bike or other car cross and some reckless @#$% will speed up and pass the stopped car and hit the person the first car had stopped for.

I don't blame the kid for not trusting the drivers.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2013, 11:09:24 PM »
I can definately see that happening on a multi lane street but seems very unlikely on single lane inner neighborhood roads when all cars are stopped at a 3 way stop.


TootsNYC

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Re: Kids on a bike and the "rules of the road" question
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2013, 11:27:52 PM »
You don't get to decide what his comfort level is.

And honestly, those soccer moms need to just drive.