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Do you drive your kid to school?

Original post made by Parent, Palo Alto High School, on Aug 30, 2012



I am interested in having a good discussion about why those who drive their kids to school do so. Is it because you think they are safer? Is it because it is easier for you? Is it because there are no school buses? Is it because they tell you it is too far to walk, or bike? Is it because of heavy backpacks or musical instruments or sports equipment?

My kids have always walked in elementary school and used bikes for middle and high school. We have never let them think that being driven to school on a regular basis was ever an option. Sure they have complained at times, when it rained in particular, but they have learned it doesn't get us to change our minds. In return, they are independent, know their way around town, and end up being better drivers when they start learning.

My feeling is that thinking they might want to go by themselves when they get older isn't going to work. If they are used to you driving them everywhere, they will never expect anything else.

What are your views? Please state the age of your kids and the length of the school commute as well as your reasons. Thanks.

Comments (62)

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I drive my kids to school because I still remember the Palo Alto first grader who was biking to school with her dad and was killed by a Palo Alto High School driver.


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Posted by academic
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

This is going back a ways, but lots of times I had to drive my kids to/from high school because we don't live close to PALY and they had outrageously heavy backpacks (through their entire careers in this school district), very bad for their backs. Yes, they were required to have certain notebooks in certain styles, which were often heavy. If you take a lot of academic courses you are more likely to be required to carry all this stuff. Musical instruments are another awkward item. No, they can't all use school instruments - some have their own instruments because they are serious musicians outside of school. Now, PALY has modernized their previous horrible school schedule, so I imagine it is MUCH better. Back then the schedule was the same 7 periods each day!!!


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

There are any number of reasons why a parent may drive their child to school.

Examples:

- A work schedule/commute that does not afford the parent enough time to walk their young child to school, walk home again, and then arrive at work on time.

- A parent who personally experienced a dangerous situation while walking to or from school as a child and who has anxiety about their child encountering such a situation. (Or a parent who never experienced such a situation personally, but still has concerns about traffic safety, predatory adults, animals on the loose, etc.)

- A family whose child has been overflowed to a school not in their neighborhood, or whose child attends a choice program at a school not in their neighborhood, or whose child is part of the Voluntary Transfer program.

In our case, our middle school child is in a special education program and has neither the executive function skills nor the maturity to negotiate the distance from our home to the school.

Please consider that there are possible scenarios outside the realm of your personal experience that may prompt a parent to drive their child to school, and try to stifle the holier than thou attitude.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 31, 2012 at 12:18 am

Some kids attend a school out of their attendance area so they live too far to bike. Although I biked from Loma Verde to Paly for 4 years in the 80's. There was less traffic then (safer) and everyone biked.

EPA kids can spend and hour on the bus or be driven to school by their parents in less time.

Palo Alto is unique city because so many students bike/walk. Most everywhere else, students are driven to school.

Time is also an issue. Depending on the school and home location, it can be faster to drive. Heavy musical instruments are also another reason to drive.

Depending on the school, I have driven my kids to their schools. And they are not spoiled. If you try too hard to NOT spoil children, they feel disrespected and you've got another issue (my parents, case in point). Sure, parents should set boundaries, but be flexible and kind too. Cracking the whip all the time makes them feel unhappy and unappreciated and does not build character. They already know from mere living that they cannot always get what they want. They need to feel that their parents are supportive of them instead of being their enemy and trying to control them.


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Posted by another mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2012 at 9:51 am


Mom,

"Depending on the school, I have driven my kids to their schools. And they are not spoiled. If you try too hard to NOT spoil children, they feel disrespected and you've got another issue (my parents, case in point). Sure, parents should set boundaries, but be flexible and kind too. Cracking the whip all the time makes them feel unhappy and unappreciated and does not build character. They already know from mere living that they cannot always get what they want. They need to feel that their parents are supportive of them instead of being their enemy and trying to control them."

THANK YOU for that reminder!


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Posted by Good question
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2012 at 10:20 am

I had to drive my child to elementary school when he was little because our neighborhood school is actually quite far from our home. I was not physically fit enough to ride a bike with my child in a child seat on the back of my bike. Walking took too long for us to be able to do it, especially in the morning.

Then we started riding bikes to school together when he was older. In middle school he mostly rode his bike. And now, he rides his bike to his high school as well.

The point is that neighborhood schools are sometimes quite far away and there are few choices but drive the child to school.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2012 at 10:29 am

I drive my son to Paly because a) it is on my way to work and b) it is the one time he consistently talks to me about things. He is also one of the most independent kids I know and is happy to bike around town.

I agree with the above comments - kids need to feel their parents support them.


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Posted by Another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I drive my 8 year old to school because: 1) the route crosses a major street and is not well suited for him to ride or walk alone, and 2) there's not enough time weekday mornings to walk or bike with him, then walk or bike back, and get to work in a timely manner.


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Posted by independence
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm

We always drove our children to school when they were younger simply because walking them to school and back took too much of our time. As they grew older and were able to walk to school on their own or with friends, we encouraged it but didn't necessarily insist. It just naturally transitioned to them wanting to have more independence and go on their own. Getting a ride to school became the exception.


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Posted by mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Driving my child to Paly 12 minutes in the am and 12 minutes in the pm adds up to 2 hours of guaranteed conversation I get to have with my teenager every week. It's the time he shares the most intimate details of his life, and I wouldn't trade that time for the world!


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Posted by They walked and biked
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Except when they had projects that werent bikable and rainy days.


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Posted by working parents
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm

We drive our kids from Barron Park to Ohlone -- they are 5 and 7. Way too far, too many dangerous streets to cross/navigate, and we also have a 2 year old to drop off at daycare on the way. I leave for work at 7am and my husband has to drop all three kids off and be at work by 8:15-8:30. I pick the kids up at the Kids Club after school on my way home and then pick up the 2 year old. As much as we would LOVE to be able to bike to school -- we both walked and or biked to school as kids -- it is just not possible right now. Our kids WILL walk or bike to middle and high school.


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Posted by anotherparent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Some great points already provide regarding making kids aware of how much we care about them (but without being overly controlling) or how the commute can be great conversation time. Also many schools are simply too far away to consider having the kids walk or bike. 2 of my kids are in elementary school 10+ minutes DRIVE away. Our middle-schooler bikes. But the younger kids also often bike to after-school activities that are closer. Safety can of course also be a concern. Speaking of which, how many parents out there have their kids take self-defense or martial arts classes?


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Posted by Mom of 2
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm

We drive our kids to school for the following reasons.

1. We were in Spanish Immersion and it is geographically the furthest Elementary school in PA from our home.
2. SI continued at Jordan so kids both biked and got rides depending on morning moods and weather.
3. Attending HS at Paly, we are around 2.5 miles to school (Gunn is equal distance) but with sports after school, pick up is around 6pm.

Both my husband and I grew up in Palo Alto. I never got a ride to school, even in the rain. We also did not have the homework load that kids today have or all of the after school sports and club teams that are year round.
I end up driving home "friends" who live in walking distance of school when I pick up my kids after school(sports) and happy to do it. I work full time but make time to be a driver.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm

And I also drive my kid to school, and I have one that walks (hmmm quite a mystery, huh?) but instead of explaining myself, I wonder if the original Parent that posted the question is satisfied yet by these answers, that she, in fact, doesn't own the right answer market.

And I also wonder if by any chance she was possibly actively involved in pushing the hugely detrimental striping changes on Arastradero? Which makes the lives of those of us who have a need to drive down that street daily or maybe even more than 2x per day, for whatever our reasons may be (frankly none of anyone elses's business) hugely more time consuming, traffic clogging, aggravating and more dangerous than it was before.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 1, 2012 at 7:56 am

Thank you for the comments and please keep them coming.

I hadn't heard the one about the time spent with actually talking with your child, but it does make sense. Similarly, I like driving a group of kids somewhere as listening to their conversation is another way of finding out what is going on in their lives.

We manage to support our kids in many ways without driving them to school. They have been driven on a few occasions, when they had stuff to take which couldn't be carried on a bike or a time when one had a leg injury, and they complained that it took longer by car!!

I rarely drive Arastradero and no had nothing to do with the striping, and don't like it. I don't live anywhere near and we are a Paly family.

My purpose for starting this was purely curiosity and I did not intend to offend. I hope others find it interesting too.


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Posted by Kristina
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 1, 2012 at 9:35 am


Stop spoiling your kids by driving them to school. When I was in elementary school in P.A, the girl who was driven to school was nicknamed "rubberlegs" because she didn't walk or ride her bike like the rest of us. You may want to look into the cost of bus service and go that route. That came in handy for us in junior high and high school until we drove. Palo Alto has really changed since I grew up there, and that change is not in a positive direction. This is what gives Palo Alto a bad name...


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Posted by Lonny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2012 at 10:50 am

How our kids get to school is a personal choice and really needs no explanation. The fact that our kids are going to school and show up everyday to learn, no matter how they got there, is really what matters.


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Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 1, 2012 at 11:21 am

@Lonny, no one's asking you to explain yourself, just to contribute if you'd like to share your view.

Our kids have always walked or biked, elementary through high school. We've always been fairly close to the school, so it was easy that way. I like the self-reliance that getting to and from tends to promote. I still remember myself walking a half mile or so to school in kindergarten and feeling pretty good about it; I walked almost 2 miles in junior high and high school, that was a little long but it was fine too.

I saw a stat showing high growth in the number of kids biking to Gunn over the last decade. Some of it is enrollment growth, but some it was definitely increased use of bikes.


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Posted by Carpooler
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

We drive because we have to take two freeways to get to school in PA - with books, laptop, sports equipment, and instrument. We'd love to live in PA, but the real estate in your city is just too pricey. We ran the numbers and considered moving to PA and enrolling in your great public schools. It turned out to be much less expensive to live in Santa Clara and commute to private schools. At least we are spending a lot of money in your city to justify our use of your roads.


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Another aspect is what happens in high school with sports practice and kids getting their license. Our kids walked then rode their bikes to elem and middle school. With high school came early morning sports practice, which meant driving to Redwood City before school - first we drove our daughter, then when she got her license she drove herself to practice & school. When our younger one started high school, they rode home together, and then the younger one continued driving to school when the older one graduated.


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Posted by PA Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Thank you for the original poster for clarifying. The original post had a berating tone to it.

Another reason not mentioned by anyone is the bicycle crime in Palo Alto, which was not an issue when I grew up here in the 70's. If a bike is left after school while the student is engaged in their sport, there is a high possibility that the bike will either be stripped or stolen. I know this is true for Jordan and Paly, as I have heard stories and my own child's bike was tampered with. Bikes are even tampered with DURING school hours (even with the locked cage) at Jordan. Therefore, during her sport season, I drive her to school. And everyone knows about bikes being stolen in downtown Palo Alto, from backyards, etc. even when they are locked.

I can't figure out how "Carpooler" is allowed into PAUSD unless the parent works for PAUSD.

Kristina: Yes, Palo Alto has really changed, but it's due to crime, more homework, more extracurriculars necessary to succeed or state on college applications. It would be ideal if our children could grow up in the more relaxed environment of the 1970s when we skateboarded or biked all over town, or took the bus alone when we were 11-years old to go shopping at the mall, and returned home at nightfall, with no worries of kidnappings or homework. Or when SAT's and GPAs could offset each other rather than both being top scores. It's no longer a Leave It to Beaver World. And as parents, we have to be sure to balance their schedules so they have some fun and down time and are not too stressed. It was much easier being a parent in the good ole days - just send 'em outside after school and they kept themselves busy!


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Carpooler said commutes to private schools in PA, not PAUSD. A good decision if one can't afford the real estate.


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Posted by goose
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If you require your kids to bike to school, I assume when you need to go to their school you hop on your bike? Double standard alert!!!


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Posted by safer bike routes, please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2012 at 12:07 am

Well, they say before you judge another person, you should walk a mile in their shoes. How about you take a bike, with a young child, and try the route below at the suggested time.

We walked every day of elementary school. No complaints, everyone loved it. Would LOVE to be able to bike, but we drive to middle school now. Middle school is the most unsafe route I could imagine possible, with no bike path at all for most of it, crossing two major streets and the tracks. There isn't room for the bikes on those streets. If you want to try it, how about you take your bike with your 7-year-old, starting at about, oh, 7:50, you make your way up Maybelle from, oh, just before Juana Briones, cross El Camino and make your way up El Camino Way. Choose which ever path you want over to East Meadow and cross the railroad tracks and Alma. Keep going. Now do that in the reverse when it's about 3:10pm. Notice how the main bike traffic goes in the other direction, so there is no safety in numbers? Do that for a week, and if I haven't seen your name in the papers, you can try some of the even less safe alternate routes, like going the long way around up Amaranta, right on Los Robles, and crossing El Camino onto El Camino way from the other direction (note how the bike path AND space simply disappear there, too), then left onto East Meadow.

If you are lucky enough never to encounter a distracted driver in a hurry to get by all the school kids to get to work, report back about how you think we could make space for the bikes along those routes, because I hate feeling like the only safe thing to do is drive.

Also, was nearly run over by a Mercedes convertible running a red light with the driver yakking about on his cell phone a few years ago.

We'll be back to walking in high school, the route is safer.


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Posted by Yeun
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2012 at 7:12 am

My kids take bus. I live in Korea most of the year while they go to Palo Alto school. They no like walk, so take bus.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 2, 2012 at 8:50 am

This is why I drive my child. They don't realize the rules apply to them, too,
Web Link


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2012 at 8:55 am

I live in Midtown and my daughter can easily (though complaining) ride her bike to school. But it is somewhat on my way to work, and I thoroughly enjoy our morning conversations. We car pool with a few other kids, so I get to know her friends better and here what they all think of their classes, their teachers, their friends, who's going to the dances, who's going out with who. It's amazing what you can learn in 15 minutes. I wouldn't have it any other way.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 2, 2012 at 9:21 am

I am sorry if my original question seemed berating. I probably posted too quick having just read a berating comment in another thread about how all kids were driven to school and in another place when this discussion was taking place, someone complained about being off topic.

I thought it was a good idea to have this discussion. If you think we should mind our own business, that's fine by me. This is a great place to be anonymous so I don't think anyone's privacy is being invaded.

As a school kid, I was driven to school most of the time because my bus ride was over an hour and it was easy enough for my father to drive me on his way to work which was about 15 minute drive. But I almost always came home by bus. I did occasionally ride my bike but I didn't like it - too hilly. My spouse always used the bus.

I gave our reasons why we make our kids use bikes. I know plenty of parents have good reasons why they drive and I wanted to give them a place to explain their reasons. A few have given me reasons I hadn't heard before.

It is easy to appear judgmental. I don't think I am a poor parent because I don't support my kids by not driving them everywhere and I don't think they feel any worse of me. In fact, I think they like to be seen as independent and are embarrassed on the times they are seen with us around town by their friends, eating out, shopping, at a movie, etc. I think they enjoy their indepence.

We don't have school buses around here and we don't all have a suitable bus or shuttle service to get our kids to school. It could be said that our kids are getting more exercise when they bike or walk and more ready to start learning than when they arrive at school straight out of a car, eating their breakfast and still wiping the sleep out of their eyes. Alternatively, it could be said that they arrive at school having had 15 minutes quality time with a parent and feel loved as a result.

There are lots of ways of looking at it. We all make the decisions we feel best for our family.

If Palo Alto isn't providing a means to get the kids to school then they shouldn't complain at the way we do it instead.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 2, 2012 at 9:51 am

PS

By the way, the above comment about arriving eating breakfast and wiping the sleep out of their eyes was made at an elementary back to school night by a teacher requesting that those being driven arrive 15 minutes early to allow the kids to play and get rid of the "wriggles" so that they entered the classroom with their "blood pumping and ready to learn".


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Posted by Gunn Mom
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

We carpooled with neighbors when our kids went to Ohlone. Then they started biking to Terman and Gunn. If it was really pouring rain I'd offer a ride but we had to leave very early to avoid the traffic jam.

Both parents bike to work (one to downtown PA, the other bikes to CalTrain).

I encourage bike commuting if possible. Some folks can only manage once or twice a month but it is a great way to squeeze in exercise and arrive more relaxed.


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Riding bicycles is inherently dangerous, especially when automobiles and bicycles mix together. I always cringe when I see young bicyclists trying to maintain a straight path in a bike lane, while traffic passes them by.

If you want your kids to be safe, best to drive them to school.


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Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm

As a student:
In elementary school, my father accompanied me to the school ~3 blocks away. I would either scooter or walk. I would walk (or scooter) home without a family member, but along the same path that every other student would follow.
In middle school, I biked 1.3 miles (or so says Google Maps) to school

In high school, where I am now, I typically bike to school (distance: ~2.5 miles). Legally I can drive myself, but do not do so on a regular basis because I see no point (There is always a huge back up at the light to make a left on Embarcadero. As a biker, I often pass cars caught in the back up). My parents only drove me when a) It was pouring rain or expected to pour rain, 2) I had a project or large object that needed to be brought to school or 3) I was running extraordinarily late and, because most of the back up had diminished, it was faster to take a car.

Another note: A fair number of students at Paly take the Shuttle. Occasionally I use it myself, primarily when I have been driven to school but have no ride home.


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Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm

@safer bike routes - that route doesn't sound great. This isn't a criticism, but your route does start basically around the corner from Terman. I'm sure you are going to JLS for a good reason but it is going to be a tougher cross-town bike route if you aren't going to the nearest school.


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Posted by PALY Student
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I actually used to bike because it is much faster than going through the work and school traffic on Embarcadero, Churchill, or Middlefield. Of course, this is possible because of the short distance (1mi) from the three schools I attended. What bothers me is how the car becomes a necessity, even for students who are only a few blocks away, and yes we do see some seniors go in their cars to school and back for just a few blocks. If you have to go to work afterwards, that is fine. Of course, a full evaluation of how people get to school would be necessary, but it is really good to see that biking is such a popular option and the schools are supporting it by installing new racks.


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Posted by Carrie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm

To dangerous with some of the drivers on the road.


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm

One of the reasons that bicycling appears to be faster in town, especially in heavy traffic, is that many bicyclists fail to obey the common traffic rules. So many bicyclists fail to come to a stop at stop signs, and this is extremely dangerous.

Cars and bikes simply do not mix well.

For the safety of our kids, drive them to school.


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Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm

@Jamie - heard your point of view, but don't agree. You are welcome to drive your kids - I'll let mine bike.


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

> heard your point of view, but don't agree

@Me, what part do you disagree with? That bikes and cars don't mix, and mixing them is dangerous for bicyclists? Or that you don't care about the safety of your kids?


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm



Our English and German au pairs drove our kids to school until they were old enough to drive themselves.

With all the safety concerns, after school activities etc- particularly in the fall and winter when it is dark driving to and from school is much safer.


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Posted by new in town
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm

We bike, walk or scooter to school most days with our kids. It has become more feasible now they are older and we are fortunate to live just a few blocks away. While we do it for the health and environmental benefits and to reduce traffic for all, we often fear for our lives due to drivers rushing off to work after dropping their kids at school, ostensibly because it is "too dangerous" for them to walk or ride.

Parents are some of the scariest drivers to those of us trying to reduce the traffic loads for all. Please watch out for ALL kids, especially once yours are safely deposited at the school.


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Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm

@jamie - I disagree that the risks you point out mean that everyone should drive their kids, which is what you seemed to be saying ("For the safety of our kids, drive them to school"). We all have to decide for ourselves what risks are acceptable, including the risk of teaching our children that the world is such a scary and dangerous place they must constantly take precautions like driving to school.

For instance, when our kids were much smaller my spouse subscribed to the "what about kids getting kidnapped on the way to school" concern that seems to go around. So we looked into it and could find no instances of kids getting kidnapped in our community (at that time) for the last many years. So we decided that, while it was in theory possible that our kid might get kidnapped, that we would rather teach her how to be aware of situations and deal with them, and get the pleasure, benefit,and experience of getting to school on her own. It worked out and she is now a healthy high school graduate.

So, like I said, you are welcome to drive your kids - I'll let mine bike.


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Posted by new in town
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm

@Jamie

As you drive away from the school having deposited your own children safely, I hope you use as much care with respect to the precious children of others who are walking and biking there.


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Posted by Safer bike routes
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2012 at 10:50 am

@Me. Yes, you are stating the obvious about the proximity to Terman, and yes, it's not our first choice to do this way.

@original poster: yes, you did sound judgmental but I took you at your word that you are lookimg for solutions. My suggestion was a genuine one, though it wasn't genuine that you take your child, the route is far too dangerous. However, what I would suggest is that you try it and consider whether a few "biking buses" along that route in both directions between Terman and JLS would be possible ( esp inthe other direction for the Gunn kids, who probably only need it in that direction to donald, bc they then go right to Georgia). Biking buses are basically organized regularly scheduled packs of riders. An electric vehicle of some sort should lead, something kids could put their instruments and heavy packs on. The rear should be someting like a motrcycle cop that ensuing cars will give space. The bicycle buses wont slow traffic because it's already slow on these routes. Added bonus, the kids will learn to STOP FOR STOP SIGNS on their bikes. And cars will learn the bike is a vehicle that deserves a turn when stopped. Anyone can join the bicycle bus on the way when moving, but there should be reguar stops for loading and unloading the heavy stuff at designated places like school. Walking buses are another option that solve a lot of the concerns. I suggest ths route s a busy enough and dangerous enough on to demonstrate the vlue of the solution.


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Posted by Teach the kids to stop @stop sign?
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I think that one policeman standing on Arastadero area during the morning rush hour to Gunn, stopping and fining few high school kids who totally ignore stop signs in the area, would do the community a big service. The high school kids can learn, fast.
An accident is waiting to happen, unfortunately - it will not be the fault of the drivers who can not see the bikes


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Posted by Safer bike routes
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm

The police have stood at donald and maybell many times and handed out tix. Has absolutely no impact on their behavior as a group. Many go right through even when people incl small kids are in the crosswalk. It does however make the individual kids feel desperate for being singled out - sometimes they cry, etc. i'm not saying it's okay for them to break the law, but let's remember the spirit of the law, and what great kids we have in this community - there must be a better way. A bicycle bus, by the way, would make stpooing together a habit.... Esp if a cop is taking up the rear...


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Posted by Teach the kids to stop @stop sign?
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Safer bike route - I have seen many situations where kids in lower income areas were stopped by police, did not argue. These situations, far away, seemed to me to be by far less dangerous than the morning commute around Gunn. Some of those (far away), seemed just like a good way of collecting $. The spirit of the law was of no interest, there. I'm wondering Palo Alto kids are being taught that "annoying laws" (stopping @stop sign, for example) are made for others?
An accident is waiting to happen, unfortunately - it will not be the fault of the drivers who can not see the bikes.


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Posted by Leland Court mom
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 3, 2012 at 8:15 pm

8 yr. old can't cross Oregon alone so we drive or bike together.


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Posted by Participant
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm

The way you worded your question, I can see that you are not interested in a discussion. You have a solid opinion and sit in judgement of anyone who drives their kids. I'm not falling for it.


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Posted by safer bike routes
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm

So, because you witnessed police somewhere else ticketing people in what seemed a good way of collecting $$, this is a good reason to single out a few kids around here like a sledge hammer for punishment that does apparently nothing at all to solve the problem of kids running stop signs on their bikes? It seems to me you have a lot of baggage wrapped up in your opinions and are not thinking objectively about the GOAL, which is not to collect extra $$ through tickets but to teach the kids to stop running the signs. The ticketing of the kids went on all last year, didn't make a dent. Maybe it's time to do something else if, as you say, you care about the safety of the kids.


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Posted by Teach the kids to stop @stop sign?
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2012 at 10:27 pm

safer bike route - I'm sorry, I was not aware that ticketing was going on last year, obviously did not make any difference - morning commute wise. Seems to me to be a fascinating question- why ticketing did not make any difference? Why are the kids ignoring the law? What can make Palo Alto kids obey a trivial law - stopping @stop sign?

An accident is waiting to happen, unfortunately - it will not be the fault of the drivers who can not see the bikes.


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Posted by They walked and biked
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2012 at 11:09 pm

@teach the kids...

Perhaps if adult drivers obeyed the laws for cars, kids might obey bike laws. I think drivers are not modeling good behavior for kids.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 4, 2012 at 7:38 am

Interesting how this has developed.

It is crossing guards who teach our kids to ignore stop signs. They wave people on bikes through their own stop signs and also those at the intersections they monitor. They start the trend of teaching kids not to stop so of course they don't stop where there are no crossing guards too. If crossing guards made the bikes stop I am sure it would have a knock on effect.


Sorry if you still think I have an agenda. I have given my point of view and I think it is fair that everyone should be able to give their point of view here. Noneed to trust or fear me.




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Posted by Rethinking the biking
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 4, 2012 at 7:46 am

My son rides his bike to Paly; it is far too far to walk (measured 5 miles...). I am considering forbidding it. He has already had 2 accidental meetings with cars this year alone...one when a parked car opened his door, one when a driver stopped and my son thought he was stopping for him, but then the driver went to turn right just as my son was starting to cross the street and nicked my son's bike. Both times my son ended up on the street, once with a major leg road rash.

The drivers are really scaring me!


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 4, 2012 at 7:50 am

Whenever I'm driving and there is a police officer at an intersection, they will wave me through or stop traffic independent of the signage or signal. I was taught in drivers ed that the officer's signal takes precedence. I don't see the connection between being waved through a red light by an official and running red lights routinely.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 4, 2012 at 11:03 am

Is there any reason to stop at a stop sign if no one is around? Quit being so rigid. You want students to bike, but only on your ground rules. Some people just love to have the last word.

And the GOOD crossing guards are the ones who put the children first and have the cars stopped right before the bicyclist hits the intesection so they can continue biking because the goal is to get the kids to school on time. Whoever thinks the crossing guards are teaching the students to ignore stop signs needs to realize that kids know the definition of a stop sign and if they see cars around, they will stop.

Someone here needs to start respecting the intelligence of children more. They are not complete idiots. If they are continually controlled and told what to do without flexibility, they will not learn to use their own minds and make their own decisions because the parent has always controlled their lives. Intelligent people know that there are instances when rules don't need to be followed. If one lives by the book all the time, creativity is stifled. The truly successful know when to bend the rules. The people who love to control others are never happy because they are always thinking about how everyone else is doing things incorrectly.

If there were no crossing guards, guaranteed the students would be waiting long periods to cross in the crosswalks (when legally, a car is supposed to stop if a pedestrian or biker is waiting in the crosswalk).

And I agree with the poster who commented that parents who force their children to bike all the time should also bike instead of driving a car all the time as if they are too high to get off their royal throne and cycle with the students.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm

We live on the other side of El Camino from our elementary school. My kids are not allowed to bike to their school, which is about a mile away, because the intersection is dangerous as it the road they'd have to ride on. It's too narrow and many children wobble into traffic and it's a heavily traveled road.

Much of the time (50%+) our last kid there walks in the mornings, but only when it's convenient for us to walk or walk our bikes with her. If I'm out in the car running errands or am working at home and don't have 45 minutes to go get her, I drive to pick her up. We have also been harassed by kids on bikes on the sidewalk when we walk, and I don't feel comfortable with that. If I had a lot of free time, I'd walk to get her more, but I don't. The older kids ride their bikes 99% of the time to the middle and high schools, so the theory that older kids depend on being driven is hogwash in our home. We only drive them if it's lightening/pouring or if they have a big project to carry.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm

To "Mom" that asked if there was a good reason to stop at a stop sign while on a bike if no one is there, well it is the law, but most bikes don't obey it. It's really not a big deal to me except that way too many kids (and adults) don't stop at stop signs even when there is a car. (see the above post of the Paly sophomore hit by a car when he blew past a stop sign on Bryant).

Our kids are smart - they should at least slow down at stop signs and stop if there is a car. Bikes do NOT have the right of way.


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Posted by My 2 Cents
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm

To Mom from Palo Alto Community. Sorry, but your disregard for safety measures is a good part of the problem. I watch children bicycle through stop sighs every day, without even a glance in either cross traffic direction. I watch parents ride with or pull children through red lights. Small children are riding on the back or front of their parents bike learning that you follow rules of the road when it suits you.
Bike riders are developing worse habits because "cars should watch out for them", some drivers are driving more aggressively because they are "sick of bikers ignoring the rules". We need to ALL change our habits and open our eyes.
EVERYONE, PLEASE RIDE/WALK/DRIVE MORE CAREFULLY AND DEFENSIVELY. PARENTS, TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO WATCH OUT FOR CARS BACKING UP OR TURNING CORNERS. TELL THEM THAT EVEN THOUGH DRIVERS SHOULD HAVE CLEAR WINDOWS, IT IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE. ISN'T THE GOAL TO HAVE EVERYONE AVOID ACCIDENTS AND RETURN HOME HAPPY AND HEALTHY AT THE END OF THE DAY - REGARDLESS OF YOUR MODE OF TRANSPORTATION.


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Posted by AA
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2012 at 10:51 pm

We live next to ohlone but must get to palo verde over a mile away. All of last year when my daughter was in kindergarten we rode our bikes. However I am now back to working full time. She goes to after school care at the jcc and they can't pick her bike up. Also it's too far for me to walk her and get home in time for work. Because of the lottery school system we can't go to the closest school to our house and so end up driving except for the one week day I am off when we bike both ways.
I honestly find the implied judgement in your comment offensive. Driving isn't because parents are indulging their kids, often it's for practical reasons that you may not have considered when wording your comment/question. Biking down Amarillo Avenue was often nerve wracking due to the high volume of traffic because ohlone is a lottery school and therefore a huge percentage of parents drive. Also your assumption that people are close enough to walk doesn't take into account that many parents have to travel further due to lottery schools and immersion schools.


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Posted by Carpooler
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2012 at 1:11 am

Well said My 2 Cents. I will add that bike riding is a great way for kids to learn the rules of the road. So one day, if they do decide to become drivers, they will have some of the good, common sense safety-first skills of driving in place. Young riders could even go to the DMV website and read through the right of way rules for bicycles and pedestrians. Of course, drivers are required to know these rules. Ideally, all people who use the roads should know them, so that everyone knows what to do at intersections, crosswalks, merging bike lanes, etc.


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Posted by safety
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I drive my kids for safety. I still see too many teenage and adult drivers talking on their cell phones or texting while driving. If you see this, tell them to stop!

Also alot of out of town people going to work in Palo Alto are clueless that there are kids around.


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