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Back-to-School Season Brings Bike-to-School Bans

As schools across the country open their doors for another year, Robert Ping of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership says students are increasingly facing "bans" against walking and biking to campus. Network member BikePortland.org reports:

229710.jpgIn Portland, fears of liability turned Safe Routes to School to "Safer Routes." Photo: BikePortland.org

"It’s pervasive throughout the country and we’re hearing about it moreand more,” [Ping] said. The problem, according to Ping, is that many schoolprincipals and administrators feel that biking and walking to school issimply unsafe. They are concerned about being held liable for anythingthat happens during the trip to and/or from school.

In addition to studying the current scope of the problem, the SafeRoutes National Partnership is putting together a team of legal expertswho will craft a legal statement directed at school principals,outlining why improving biking and walking options will not increasetheir liability exposure. They hope the legal statement will also helpallay the fears that lead to bike ban policies in the first place.

Though, as Ping points out, principals can't actually stop students from walking and biking, they can use their influence to discourage it. Administrators can also deny students a decent place to store their bikes during the school day. But if the issue is safety and liability, what about those high school parking lots?

Ping said one safe routes advocate he heard from countered a bike banin their community by asking the principal whether or not he feltliable for kids who drive to school. “That’s a great way to push backon this idea.”

In a somewhat related post featured on the Network today, Car Free With Kids sings the praises of raising a toddler on transit. Also: The Overhead Wire notes light rail progress in Houston, while Streetsblog LA finds controversy over one Metro rail line; Gateway Streets maps "desire paths" in St. Louis's Forest Park; and NY Examiner analyzes another case of motorist-on-cyclist violence, this time in Staten Island.

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