Daycare Says They Will Report Me for Getting My Kid to School on My Bike


What is most pernicious about our judgmental society is illustrated below. Just because you — or I — might not choose to transport our child to school the same way as this mom, that does not make her a menace. And disagreements should remain disagreements, not an excuse to sic the authorities on a parent who is raising her kids a little (or even a lot) differently from they way we’re raising ours.

When did parenting differences become an opportunity to turn state’s evidence against a loving mom?

Dear hftrreaszd
Free-Range Kids: I almost got reported to Child and Family Services today. Some parents and a daycare staff person say that if they see me riding with my 3-year-old sitting behind me on my bicycle again they will have to report me.

My first thought is: “Look ANYWHERE around the world: Holland, all of Europe, etc. and observe how cyclists transport their children to school.” My second thought is: “Yeah, I get it. She doesn’t have a helmet on. She’s not buckled in. She could stick her foot in the wheel.”

My stomach is in a knot over this. So, I’m an irresponsible parent guilty of neglecting my child’s safety. But, man was it convenient during the last couple of days, being sick and tired and able to just have her hop on behind me, rather than untangle the little bicycle trailer from the shed, hook it up, get her in there with her back pack and her seat belt, then ride to school, park in the BACK of the school, unhook the trailer, lock it up, unbuckle her, get her gear out, walk around the whole school to the front entrance walking my bike because I’ll need it to go to work afterwards etc…. blah, blah, blah. She LOVES riding right behind me, hugging me as we ride slowly along. We call it the “Hug Bike Ride” and we both love it.

I suppose I should be grateful that they gave me the heads up before they made the report, but I’d like to give our whole culture a head SHAKE. How much do you want to bet that if I push my 3-year-old to school in a baby stroller with an iPhone in front of her face tomorrow morning, no one will bat an eyelash. [Insert SEETHING grumbles here]

But, I will write a nice, “Thank-you for sharing your concern about bicycle transportation safety with us before calling Child & Family Services” note in my daughter’s parent-teacher communication agenda. I’m not sure if I’ll add, “because no one should have to go through the hell of a CPS investigation except those guilty of legitimate cases of neglect.”

And then, on Saturday, when it is raining, I will take my daughter to the stores and find a bike helmet that fits her PERFECTLY and she can ride in the bicycle trailer until the snow flies. And when the snow flies, we will WALK to school, damn it.

How dare we exhort parents to model “active living,” and get their children off the damn screens, etc., and then proceed to hyper-ventilate because our culture’s addiction to fossil fuel makes small town residential roads apparently UNSAFE for children on bicycles driven by their parents because all the other parents are DRIVING THEIR KIDS to school in CARS to keep them SAFE from other parents driving THEIR kids to school in CARS.

WHEN,  as a 2-parent working family, are our children supposed to be outside? I think I’ll just sit back now and take this nearly reported incident very personally and blow it way out of proportion. Oh wait. I just did.

Thanks for listening. Drops mike. Walks of stage. – The Seether


Because it's hard to find a rights-free photo of a 3 year old holding her mom as her mom bikes to school.

Because it’s hard to find a copyright-free photo of a 3 year old holding her mom as her mom bikes to school.


, , , ,

144 Responses to Daycare Says They Will Report Me for Getting My Kid to School on My Bike

  1. Michelle October 4, 2015 at 12:04 am #

    A helmet is a good idea, but is there any real reason why it’s not safe for her to sit behind you on the bike? I don’t really cycle, but it’s not like we’re talking about a motorcycle here. So someone tell me, is it actually unsafe?

  2. James Pollock October 4, 2015 at 12:34 am #

    When I was a tad, we all rode bikes without helmets. I think with helmets is smarter.

    But… if a problem is important enough to notify CPS, then it’s important enough to notify CPS, and if it’s not, it’s not. This “we’ll have to notify CPS if we see it again” is BS.

    We had a local fuss when the Humane Society wouldn’t allow adopted pets to be taken from the premises by bike. The policy didn’t last.

  3. Elizabeth October 4, 2015 at 12:36 am #

    So she’s three and the mother is sharing a what I’d guess to be a small typical bicycle seat on the bike with her and riding through town? I don’t know about this one. It does seem a bit extreme on the unsafe side. A helmet would make it better, for sure, because since she’s so little if she decided to let go (from getting distracted, a bee flying in her face, hitting an unexpected bump, etc.) – what 3 year old do you know that is always 100% predictable – it would protect her head at least if she fell off. But since she has a bike trailer, why not just use it? It may be a bit extra work, but in this case, it sounds like the more reasonable choice. I even tried doing a quick search on bicyclists in other countries (specifically the ones she mentioned) transporting kids on bikes, and while this may be the norm, I couldn’t find any pictures of young preschoolers riding like she describes. They were all in separate seats behind the parent or even in a separate seat in front of the parent. I found a couple of older kids riding this way, but not preschoolers. Doesn’t mean they don’t – just that I couldn’t find any. So I don’t think this is simply a matter of different parenting choices/cultural norms. It does sound unsafe, in my opinion.

  4. Lihtox October 4, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    There are seats that can be mounted on the back of the bicycle like on a rack, instead of the whole separate trailer. If it were me I’d look for one of those, or at least tie the kid to me somehow. Wow, that would make me nervous.

    That said, there are more human ways for the school to voice concern than to threaten a report.

  5. Michelle October 4, 2015 at 1:11 am #

    This seems really unsafe to me as well. What would be a good alternative for the school other than threatening a report? It strikes me as not a fair response, but I do think the school has the right to speak up. The truth is, by threatening the report, the mom is going to come up with a safer plan.

    I’m also really put off by her jab at other parents who do things differently (use screens, drive cars, etc). But I get she’s ranting.

  6. Wendy W October 4, 2015 at 1:20 am #

    When my daughter was 3, my husband would pick her up from daycare on his motorcycle. We were a one-car family, and it was only 4 blocks from home. The first time he walked into the daycare and put a motorcycle helmet on her, her status among her peers jumped exponentially!

    We need more info on how this kid is riding before agreeing that it’s safe, but either way, it’s not a CPS-type of situation, and the daycare should butt out.

  7. Renee Anne October 4, 2015 at 1:31 am #

    I feel like I’m echoing most everyone here but……that doesn’t exactly sound safe. First of all: helmet. Get one, even if she’s just riding in the pull-behind trailer. Second: I can barely fit on those regular bicycle seats when I’m by myself so I have no idea how you can fit an adult and a child on one.

    While I agree with mom that it doesn’t warrant a call to CPS, I think mom needs a reality check on bike safety.

  8. James Pollock October 4, 2015 at 1:54 am #

    “What would be a good alternative for the school other than threatening a report?”

    FIrst off, threats aren’t usually a good way of treating your paying customers. So something like

    “Excuse me, but some of the staff are a little concerned about how you’re transporting your child. It seems a little bit unsafe.” might be how you’d start.

  9. Elin October 4, 2015 at 4:11 am #

    Well I am a European in a very bicycle friendly town and just putting your child on a bicycle without a helmet and with no child-seat would be frowned upon here as well. I doubt the school would call social services directly but I think that they might do exactly the same as they did to you. For young children a bike seat could be a very good alternative especially if you mostly go on short rides. It will be a little bothersome when you ride on your own but one usually gets used to it quickly. We used one until our daughter was 3 and now we have a trailer. It is much more comfortable for the child and I can ride the bike without a seat catching wind but the trailer is much harder to attach and takes up a lot of room compared to a seat but the seat we have is too small for our daughter and buying a bigger one (at least in our country there are ones that go to about 5-6 years of age) was a less appealing alternative as a trolley can be used for transporting groceries and so on and be used long after our daughter has outgrown it.

    Here helmets are obligatory for all under 15 if they are on the bike riding it or in a seat but helmets are actually not mandatory in a trolley as that legally turns the bike into a tricycle which are not included in the law. Still most if not all parents put helmets on their children in a trolley too as do we. I use a bike helmet myself as there are nasty bike accidents every year in our town either single accidents where someone rides into something or accidents involving several bikes. In all these cases helmets help a lot to avoid serious headinjuries. In collisions with bike and car however helmets are less effective and while they may help, in a direct hit from a car at high speed they sadly are not enough sometimes but the chances are still better than with no helmet.

  10. Joel Arbic October 4, 2015 at 4:19 am #

    I am all for free-range concepts, but this one is pushing it a little. As others have said, other options (at least a helmet) make it a little more palatable.

    But, one the flip side, try traveling in countries like Vietnam, India and Thailand, where you will see an entire family of five on one moped with no helmets! We have taken safety to the extreme in the U.S., but I think there is a middle ground.

  11. Becks October 4, 2015 at 5:15 am #

    I really feel the anger from this mum and I’d feel the same. It seems to come down to the fact she’s been threatened rather than someone having a friendly chat with her about safety.

    Why shouldn’t she use a more convenient method of getting her daughter to school once in a while? She obviously thinks the child is capable of holding on and is also taking the journey slowly. Maybe a helmet while on the back would help but it’s up to this mum to weigh things up.

    I have over a mile to walk/cycle to school and a few months ago there was no bike shelter at school so I’d walk with my bike while kids walked so i could get home quicker. My daughter had some speech therapy appointments and to get there on time she sat on my pannier rack and held on while I cycled. I used pavements instead of roads and she loved it!

    I just don’t see what’s wrong with these once in a while/solves a short term problem solutions.

    Let people live their own lives.

  12. autumn October 4, 2015 at 6:15 am #

    I feel the point of this is, mom knew what she was doing. I get “bees can fly in ones face, mom can hit a bump”, whatever. But seriously, isn’t this free range, meaning we know what our kids can handle, and dont jump to worst case all the time? It seems to me, most the comments are, in a sense judgemental about helmets, seats, what this mom should have done. Disappointing….

  13. Liz October 4, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    I’m a cyclist, formerly from Europe and now in the US, with a 3yo of my own, and I have to agree with daycare on this one, especially as she didn’t have a helmet. Have you tried one of the separate child seats that bolt onto the bike, either in front or behind you? They’re ideal for the situation you describe and far safer for both riders (not to mention more comfortable) than trying to squish into the same seat.

  14. autumn October 4, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    P.s. @ Becks, well said. I agree! ( so does my 10 year old who read the article, the comments & loved yours)….

  15. Dhewco October 4, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    Wow, I can’t imagine what kind of bike you have. You must be in great shape. My fat rear wouldn’t even come close to allowing someone else in the seat. I’d be scared to death that I’d hit a bump and accidently push her into the tire.

    Of course, when I was little I’d ride on my Dad’s handle bars, without a helmet. I’m not sure about at 3; but I remember doing it in kg.


  16. autumn October 4, 2015 at 7:44 am #

    I cant look at these comments anymore, crap happens people. She rode her kid to school on a bike, slowly, because the device was to damn hard to get too (shame for mom to be sick, right) If it was that unsafe would she have done it? Doubtful. Obviously since this bike ride style has a name (hug bike ride) they have done it, had practice.

    Alot, not all, of these commenters sound like free range fence riders.

    How about we all attack the day cares for not practicing cleaning of toys properly? My daughter was at a kinder care when she was 2 & was sick all the time. I asked about there cleaning of toys, they said they were supposed to do it 3 times a day, but they only do it at the end of the day. Influenza kills. I’m sure much more than mom using her own judgment in a situation like this.

    Ya, things could have happened. Just like I’m any life situation. Get over it people

  17. autumn October 4, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    I cant look at these comments anymore, crap happens people. She rode her kid to school on a bike, slowly, because the device was to damn hard to get too (shame for mom to be sick, right) If it was that unsafe would she have done it? Doubtful. Obviously since this bike ride style has a name (hug bike ride) they have done it, had practice.

    Alot, not all, of these commenters sound like free range fence riders.

    How about we all attack the day cares for not practicing cleaning of toys properly? My daughter was at a kinder care when she was 2 & was sick all the time. I asked about there cleaning of toys, they said they were supposed to do it 3 times a day, but they only do it at the end of the day. Influenza kills. I’m sure much more than mom using her own judgment in a situation like this.

    Ya, things could have happened. Just like In any life situation. Get over it people.

  18. lollipoplover October 4, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    I used to ride in the front basket of my older sister’s bike at age 3 (no helmet) all the time. I do believe in helmets and my kids wear them but don’t understand this tattletale approach with CPS for a helmet.

    I walked my kids to preschool on a narrow road with no sidewalks vs. using the Drive-thru option. My son loved to try and catch frogs in the storm drains. The amount of cars and minivans speeding to make the drop off around the school was unbelievable. Call CPS on them! I routinely was stopped by other moms to see if i needed a ride, like something was wrong. I walked to the front door and got dirty looks from cars waiting in line like I was butting in line.
    Keep biking, mom. Just buy a helmet!

  19. Becks October 4, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    @autumn thanks! I agree with you too.

    Is she doing something illegal? If not then butt out people!

    Now my kids (aged 7 and 9) school has a bike shelter where they can lock their bikes so we cycle most days weather permitting. We cycle on pavements coz they’re not old enough for roads IMO and kids cycling on roads during rush hour doesn’t make sense until they can understand highway code properly. None of us wear helmets, it’s not the law and it’s my decision as a parent. Once they’re on the roads I’ll insist on a helmet until they can decide for themselves.

    There seems to be a huge disconnect between the rules people choose to follow and judge others for or ignore. I know many people who ignore the laws in UK about children using the correct child restraints in the car but are perfectly happy to let them play 15 and 18 rated video games. It’s the same people who don’t let the kids walk round the corner to school by themselves or play at the park with friends but allow totally unsupervised Internet browsing and social media to primary aged children.

    Luckily in Scotland we’re not quick to go calling social work dept. I’d only ever do that if I knew that a child was actually being abused. Otherwise I’d be calling in about most parents I know for allowing age inappropriate games and films and for causing damage to their development by not allowing them to walk to school or across roads and waiting till they are in the school building before leaving the playground.

  20. Meghan October 4, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    My suspicion is that the school never intended to call CPS. They didn’t like what they saw and they wanted her to change it. They mentioned CPS only so that that agency would come across as the bad guy instead of the school itself. I don’t think it worked, though.

  21. Jen October 4, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    I think a helmet is required by law these days for anyone under 12 (or whatever the rule is in your state). I have seen some really great seats that attach to parent’s bikes to hold one or two children. This seems like a great solution. I hate to see parents riding around with little ones in a bike trailer. As a motorist, they are so hard to see unless there is a flag attached or something. As a parent, I was always afraid to put my child in one.

  22. Brooke October 4, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    I actually think she made a really good point about the stroller. You could just as easily get hit by a car that way but parents don’t think about it. Injuries & deaths actually have increased since mandatory helmet laws on bikes because it gives people a false sense of security. I’m always worried my bike carrier will detach so I really really want a cargo bike to use once my son is old enough. But they’re very expensive.

  23. Molly October 4, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    I’m as free range as they come, but a three year old riding without a helmet AND without a child seat on the bike is just plain irresponsible. A sudden swerve to avoid a turning car or a blown tire and that kids head is meeting the curb. Either use the trailer (which also requires helmet use) or attach a child seat to the bike or find another way to get to school

  24. Elizabeth October 4, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    @autumn, I know we all like to think that every parent is responsible and is making good choices all of the time because they know their child best and what they can handle, but the reality is that sometimes, even good parents make bad decisions. I think the majority of us here can use common sense and agree this is one of those situations. It doesn’t mean this lady is a bad parent, but it does mean that she did make an unsafe choice. No big deal. She just needs to rectify it and move on. Was the daycare threatening CPS over the top? Depends. If that was the first thing they said, absolutely! If they, however, tried to have a reasonable conversation with her and she reacted much like she did in this post and would not listen to reason at all and told them she was going to do things her way, then I can see where they may as a last resort said that if they saw her do it again, they would call out of desperation. And unless this mom isn’t telling us something, the child was in reasonable danger. Free range is great, but we still have to use common sense. If someone walked by my home and saw my 2 year old playing alone on the roof and I told you to butt out because I know my 2 year old and I know they are perfectly safe up there, I doubt any sane person would say, “Oh, Ok. You know your child best,” and keep walking. Because some things are just obviously unsafe.

  25. ChicagoDad October 4, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    People make threats to get what they want when they don’t have the power, right or patience to get it any legitimate way. They want to coerce you into changing your your own behavior because they can’t make you change it immediately.

    A while back, I worked with some less than scrupulous surburban building code enforcers. Their boss, the building department director, would say, “So-and-so at such-and-such address is doing something I don’t like, and it is not technically a code violation, but go get them to stop it anyway”. It could be things like having too many cars parked at a house, or putting a kid’s playhouse in the front yard instead of the back…you get the idea. The code enforcers would go out to the house and tell the home owner. “You need to stop doing this, or else I will write you a ticket” never mind that the ticket wouldn’t be legit because no real code was violated, and it would be thrown out at the administrative hearing if the homeowner appealed it. It was the threat that mattered, not the code. The threat of a ticket was enough to get most people to comply with the whims of the building department director. If they really wanted to ticket you, you would just get a ticket on your front door–not a threat. Not my most favorite job, glad I left.

    Not all theats are such bold attempts to manipulate, but many are. If you tilt your head and squint a bit, these kinds of threats can be empowering in a weird way. It means they don’t have any real, legitimate power to force you to change your ways, and what ever you are doing has an impact that can’t be ignored.

  26. That_Susan October 4, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    I don’t understand this strong compulsion some people have for everybody else’s kid to be raised just like their own. I see practices all the time that I don’t think would be safe for my own kids — but I honestly just don’t care all that much, because they’re not my kids. I’m not saying I don’t care AT ALL — I mean, the other day I sent a mom I’d just met an email because I wasn’t sure whether she was aware that her daughter’d quit wearing her helmet while bicycling to school, and she emailed back that she’d talk to her about it. The girl still isn’t wearing helmet, but I figure I did my part, and at this point it’s none of my business. And I only emailed her about it that one time because I’d previously seen the girl wearing a helmet; If she’d NEVER had a helmet on, I’d have assumed that that was the way her family chose to do it.

  27. Michelle October 4, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    That_Susan, I agree a stranger has no standing to make a comment but I think the school is in a different position.

  28. CrazyCatLady October 4, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    I think the correct response by the preschool should have been: “We noticed that your daughter was on your bike without her own seat or a helmet. Here are some resources for bike helmets that you can get for free or low cost. (List, that probably includes the local police office.) Can we help you look for a seat to mount on the back of your bike? We saw one on Craig’s List that might work and still allow your daughter to be close enough to to have contact with you.”

    Why do people always jump to getting the law involved first…rather than seeing what they can do to help? Yes, most states have a law now that says that kids must wear helmets…so if an officer did she her without he would be liable to stop her and say she needed one….even in the trailer.

  29. Lea October 4, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    A parent riding their child on a bike, without a helmet or child seat, is not CPS worthy. Shame on that daycare for using the threat weather it was a real or empty one.

    Using a child seat and helmet would have added some safety to the ride but the degree of safety and it’s worthiness is up to the parent to judge. It does not suddenly make it abuse or neglect simply because you would do it differently. Had the daycare actually been concerned rather than judgmental, there are a dozen different ways they could have approached her about it or even offered helpful solutions. they might have had an actual conversation with her about it, found out why she was doing it. Maybe they could have brainstormed and problem solved some alternatives or solutions with her. Heck they could have simply said they were considered that it might be a bit to dangerous to keep doing it that way and had she considered getting the child a helmet or maybe a seat for the bike and left it at that.

    When I was an older kid/teen, there were no helmets, child seats had a lap belt or nothing at all and multiple riders were common place. I realize it was many moons ago but it was seen as reasonable, safe and practical to do things very differently than how they are done today. Sure there are some legitimate concerns and reasons for doing it differently in many areas today. There is also an explosion of over protectiveness and unreasonable “safety” features and must do’s that are anything but practical and are often unreasonable given the situation. This often leads to or is lead by a judging that doing it differently is somehow wrong or unsafe rather than just different than you would chose.

    I often transported younger cousins and friends on my handlebars. By younger I mean 2 and 3 years old! I was not alone in this. Bigger kids hoped right on the back of the seat and held on or rode the bar in front of me. Sometimes we rode around with 3 to the bike. This is how we went to the store, park, school, everywhere. Nobody had a helmet, I don’t think any of us had ever heard about them. We did have safety classes in how to ride in the street, obey traffic laws and use hand signals available from age six by the local police. It was offered because it was normal and anticipated that we would be riding in the street with traffic at points. My aunt had no car and would often borrow my mothers, 1940’s era bike to take her 3 year old to or from daycare. There was a child seat on it, an old one. It looked more like a package carrier that you see for bikes today. It was small, about 12″ square on the seat and back. It had no seat belt or buckle and folded down flat when it wasn’t being used. Sometimes instead of flipping it open, he would just sit on top of it while it was flat and hang on. It would surely horrify people today. Nobody blinked at it then.

    A three year old that uses matches to light candles, uses sharp knives to cut food, operates the washing machine or dishwasher, climbs tall playground equipment, plays outside alone, Have candy for breakfast, ride on skateboards or use skate ramps, ride a bike without a helmet, or even shower alone is also at a slight increased risk for ‘danger” or harm over one that doesn’t do these things, should we judge parents who allow these things, tell them they are doing it wrong, threaten to set the state on them? How about those that continue to push their 5 and 6 year old in strollers rather than have them walk or move a four year from a harness car seat to a booster car seat or put a television in a 2 year olds room. All of these things can and have been seen as forms of danger or neglect by some. They are not “involve the state agencies” activities any more than this mother choosing to ride her child double was. They are parental choices parents get to pick and choose. parents gt to decide what degree of increased possible risk and in what areas they want for what reasons they want.

    Bike helmets are not required for children in the majority of states. In areas where they are they generally are not required for use in a bike trailer or on tricycles.

  30. Jenny Islander October 4, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    I gather from the original post that the poster is aware of the dangers of tandem riding on one seat without safety gear and that the issue was that the school went directly to the nuclear option. I remember my terror and fury when I permitted my child to ride past the end of the sidewalk–with her gear, in the same bike lane people used to commute to work–and somebody who had my phone number called the cops instead of me! If you know who the parent is, why the blazing blue hell aren’t you talking to the parent instead of threatening to drag the entire family through the machinery of bureaucratic confinement?

  31. autumn October 4, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    @Elizabeth. Your analogy of your kid playing on your roof and it being safe and ok because you know your kid is up there, wow….that’s exactly what I meant in the context of my post. (gonna help you on this, being sarcastic)
    Hello extreme. Wow.

  32. Jenny Islander October 4, 2015 at 11:37 am #


  33. Reziac October 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    There are toddler seats precisely for this purpose. Basically just a seat and leg shields that go over the rear fender, where the book rack would be (if you’re old enough to remember bikes with fenders and book racks). Kid can still hug mom from behind; that’s the whole idea. A helmet is a good idea, because hitting the pavement headfirst in a crash is the only real risk here.

  34. Bella October 4, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    Wow. How disheartening.

    Maybe I won’t read replies on this blog either, as the responses are almost identical to those on any other mainstream blog.

    Government is god. Dictate how everyone else should live. Rat out your fellow slave. Assume everyone is the lowest common denominator and there are no differences among individuals. Etc.

    How depressing.

    The articles are great.

    The comments. Not so much. 🙁

  35. RJ October 4, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    First off bicycle trailers are not as safe as having the child on the bike with you because with the trailer trailing behind you it could get clipped by a car while you are taking evasive action in an emergency or tip over.
    Second get a child seat attached to the front or back of the bike … problem solved.

  36. Jesse Bacon October 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    Click on the link for a resource for riding bikes with kids. An option if your kid is too little for a helmet is strapping the kid into a carseat in a cargo bike capable of holding one. Good luck!

  37. Jim Collins October 4, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Children’s bicycle helmets, one of the biggest feel good scams ever. That wasn’t my opinion. A few weeks ago I was going to lunch with a friend who is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in injuries to the back and neck (he fixed me up pretty good). We saw several children riding their bikes in an unused section of a parking lot. One of the kids fell and I saw my friend visibly wince. The kid got back up and was fine. When we were eating I asked why he winced when the kid fell? This is when he made the scam statement regarding helmets. In his opinion the number of head injuries before the helmet laws were not worth doing anything about, while the number of NECK injuries since the laws went into effect is a concern. Most falls from a bicycle involve a side impact to the head, while children’s bicycle helmets only protect the top of the head. In the few where the top of the head is involved the helmet transfers the forces to the neck.

    If I was this mother, I’d check if there are ANY laws concerning her child riding with her, make sure that she is in compliance with those laws and tell the daycare to go to hell.

  38. Kerri October 4, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    I do have a big problem with the no helmet. The child is riding from the height of an adult-sized bike at an adult speed, I assume on or next to streets that have cars driving. There is a very real possibility of injury–which could be minor or catastrophic depending on whether she is wearing a helmet.

  39. Kerri October 4, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

    Also, bike helmets are not a “scam.” Check out the AAP’s (American Association of Pediatrics) statement on bike helmets. Proper fitting helmets can prevent 88% of serious brain injuries from bike collisions and falls.

  40. Rook October 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    I’ve seen some rather nice bikes designed for carrying stuff, so I’m assuming she had a kind like that which had a little platform on the front and back. I really don’t see how a little kid could hover in midair on a normal bike otherwise. And if she had one of those bikes, what’s the big deal? The lack of helmet? That’s a pretty easy fix and wouldn’t require more than a bulletin of “please make sure all children IN vehicles wear their seatbelts and all children ON vehicles wear helmets”.

  41. Andrea October 4, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    CrazyCatLady hit nail on the head. It doesn’t matter what you or I think about what she is doong. The problem isn’t whether what she is doing is a good idea or not; the problem is that, instead of talking to her like a member of the community, the day care jumped right to threatening her. That’s the BS society we live in, where we are enemies of each other and can’t even communicate diplomatically with the people near whom we live and work.

  42. LauraL October 4, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    I’m still going to fall on the side of the mom, here. The school has ZERO SAY in her parenting choices or methods of conveying a child TO SCHOOL. I hate that my elementary principal threatened kids with no Field Day if they were observed using the MARKED BLINKING LIGHT crosswalk while walking to school. The crosswalk is three blocks away. If I’ve taught my child how to use that crosswalk, the PRINCIPAL has jack-all to say about it! It’s no on school property. TEACH them, yes. THREATEN them, no.

    So you can THINK IT’S NOT SAFE all you want, but you have ZERO SAY in what this mom chooses to do.

  43. Andrea October 4, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    Kerri – that statistic doesn’t address Jim’s comment. What is the effect of bike helmets on ALL injuries, including neck injuries? In his comment Jim said that his friend observed that the number of head injuries that bike helmets protect against were already small before bike helmets, so saying that bike helmets reduce an already low number by 88% doesn’t really refute his claim.

  44. Dave October 4, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    I agree with most of the commenters – a helmet for the kid, and one of those kid’s bike seats that mounts over the rear wheel would be the safest option (and a lot less hassle than the trailer). I’ve used them, many friends have, and they work well. Visit the Netherlands, Belgium or Denmark and you’ll see them all over the place!

    However, the day care staff and parents were well over the top with their threat of a report to CFS. A simple caring comment or suggestion would have been far more appropriate.

    It is possible to take the idea of “free range” too far and ignore basic common sense safety. One good bump (think pothole) and that three year old could have lost her grip on mom and ended up under a car’s wheels. As a retired EMT and long time bike rider, I can tell you this is not far fetched at all. I have toddler granddaughters, I know their strength.

  45. Michelle October 4, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    In response to the questions about how both mom and kid fit on the seat, have you guys never seen a banana seat? When I was a kid, we rode two to a seat all the time. I can easily see a slender mom and a small child both fitting on an adult-sized banana seat. And I have known LOTS of three year olds. Some of them are absolutely trustworthy to hold on, especially if they’ve had practice.

    Secondly, to those who are “disappointed” in the comments on this. Most Free Range parents are in the habit of actually evaluating situations and thinking logically about the risks or relative safety. If you are expecting uncritical, knee-jerk agreement — in either direction! — you’re in the wrong place. Parents here have opinions and have thought them through. Yes, we tend toward grace when it comes to other parents making different decisions, but that doesn’t mean we won’t give our opinion.

  46. Michelle October 4, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    LauraL, wait, what??? What did the principal want kids to do instead of using the crosswalk?? I am completely uncomprehending here.

  47. Sarah October 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    Yeah – the daycare over-reacted. A friendly chat would have been enough to express their concerns. I do think the mom has a couple more options, like the toddler seat several people mentioned. It sounds like her kid may be big enough for a trail-a-bike, too. Ours saved our family in more than a few ways – my little one (who started using it around 3 years old), NEEDED to be outside on her way to school. The bus was too over-stimulating in many ways. She loved the activity, the fresh air, complaining about Mommy or Daddy’s butt in her face. It was all a good time. And we could stop right at the front door, let her hop off, and then we’d lock the trail-a-bike up for the end of the day commute.

    We have one for sale – what are the chances she’s close enough to get a good deal on ours?… 🙂

  48. GGM October 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    You know they make bike seats right?? No need to go to all the fuss with the trailer, just install the bike seat and keep it on for your ride from daycare to work.
    Try Amazon. They sell everything.

  49. Zed October 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    Good for her! Kids and parents should be able and allowed to bike to school. Kids that bike or walk to school are usually about a 1/2 year ahead by the end of gragde school,

    However, depending on where she is, a child on a bike without a helmet and not in a proper seat probably is illegal and not as safe as it could be.

    If the trailer is too much of a hassle, she should look into a cargo bike.

  50. Steve October 4, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    Thousands in Amsterdam – biking – No helmets there.


    What’s wrong with bike helmets?

  51. Daniel October 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    I would go down the route of getting a pannier rack mounted bike seat, easily avalable in a size that will take a 3yo and a decent skid lid for her (even in countries in Europe where most adults don’t bother with helmets the kids often do wear them) and as somone who has gone over the handlebars myself and practicality split a helmet open I alway wear one

  52. Vicky October 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    NONE of their cotton pickin business!

  53. LisaS October 4, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    My mom had a bike with a rack & twin baskets on the back, and my sister and I rode all over town on the back of it … but when I was riding my 3-year-old to school, I bought a child seat for the back of my bike, and made sure she wore her helmet. At drop off, her helmet went in her seat until pick up time. She was safe, and learned very young how to lean in curves and all the other non-pedaling balance things involved in bicycling. By the time she was 4 she was riding her own bike with no training wheels!

    So yeah … buy a seat. I bought mine used from a friend, and sold it on Craigslist afterwards, so paid maybe $20 for it net.

  54. Dhewco October 4, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    It sounded as if the mother knew her options and felt the no-helmet and hold on tight one was best for her and her kid. I seriously doubt that she doesn’t know about the seats that hang on the back of her bike if she knows about trailers. It sounds as if she doesn’t want the extra work of taking it off and on if the hold on tight thing works. She thinks that what she’s doing works and wanted people to feel her frustration towards the daycare.

    I wonder if the problem is more that she knows she has a really good daycare and doesn’t want to risk her standing there. Good daycares (especially in some neighborhoods) can be really competitive for slots and she doesn’t want to be kicked. When the daycare threatened, her fear over both CPS and the daycare potential anger drove the frustration/anger into high gear.

    Then, I notice that she mentions that some parents are threatening, too. Is the daycare being forced to make this threat by the other busybody parents? Even good daycares can’t fight when several of their clients insist on something at the same time. Their position as a popular daycare who can demand good prices demands keeping most of the parents happy.


  55. Dean Whinery October 4, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    I’m with this mom. Hope she stick to her guns. (Whoops! That’s not PC, is it?)
    When I think of a child riding behind an adult on a bike, a picture from the Peanuts comic strip comes to mind.

  56. Julie October 4, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    If the bike has a long seat, we used to call them banana seats, put a helmet on the Tot and have her sit in front of you with her feet on the handlebars. You keep her secure by having your hands on the handgrips. I’ve transported my kids this way for a long while and no one has ever said a word. If the child wants them get her a pair of goggles to wear with her helmet. There are TONS of imaginative things you two can discuss while you’re riding!

  57. Kelly October 4, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Well, since it’s required by law that children wear a helmet AND childcare workers are required by law to report when a child has been abused or is endangered, they really didn’t have a choice. She is lucky they gave warning.

    If something had occured, and they hadn’t taken action they could be held criminally negligent.

    She isn’t just endangering her child. She put the daycare at risk.

  58. Cedric October 4, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    I agree in sentiment but no helmet and behind you on a seat of limited size is not the best way to do this, I think. I say this as a parent and bike commuter, also.

  59. Silver Wolf October 4, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    When I was a kid, I remember seeing people riding their bikes with babies sitting in seats on the back. Isn’t this done anymore?

  60. susan October 4, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    We visited Amsterdam on our trip through Europe. I have never seen so many bikes. It was routine to transport kids on the parent’s bikes. I saw a woman who had an infant maybe 2-3 months old in a basket strapped to the handlebars with some sort of belt. I saw toddlers happily riding on homemade seats also fixed to the handlebars. I was told all kids there learn to ride bikes by age 4 you know so they can get around like everyone else. It was eye-opening for sure. None of it would fly here in the states.

  61. Fiamma October 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    I guess I am a free ranger on the fence because if I was riding my kid down a street, I want him to wear a helmet.
    The most interesting thing about comments on this website is how people will attack each other if you’re not a full on free range person. I kind of don’t get it. I may not do everything you do, you won’t do everything I do and the point is some of us don’t agree with this mother and some of us do and that’s the beauty of discussion. i do think the daycare could have handled differently since threats are not the right way to approach most situations. What I dislike here is the impression that yhose who don’t side with mom are equivalent to government workers and that is a bit much.

  62. Tom October 4, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    @autumn – so playing on the roof is an extreme example? My siblings and I used to do this – as young as two years old. It was a one story house and a ladder leaning up against it. We’d climb up and play all sorts of games. I realize now that a two year old on a roof was a stupid idea, but we did it. So not really such an extreme example. It goes to show that different parents allow all sorts of dangerous things to varying degrees. We all have our limits on what we feel is safe and what goes too far. Most folks on here agree that riding a bike while sharing a seat with a 3 year old merely hanging on to your waist with no helmet is too far. You feel a 2 year old playing on a roof is too far, but my parents didn’t. So we all have our limits. So when is an activity “obviously unsafe?” You’d think common sense would tell us, but some people in this world are severely lacking in it. Just get the kid a seat attached to the back. No big deal.

  63. sigh October 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    “She LOVES riding right behind me, hugging me as we ride slowly along. We call it the ‘Hug Bike Ride’ and we both love it.”

    Can you press your cheek into your mom’s waist when you’re wearing a helmet? Nope.

    Can you have any kind of conversation with a kid who is in a trailer behind the bike? Nope.

    I define “integrity” as an integration of values. You don’t want to sacrifice one for another. I can tell this mom values ease, efficiency, and connection. And fun! And in my view, she also values safety, and is enforcing certain behaviours on the ride with her daughter to ensure that.

    So I don’t see anything out of integrity.

    However, I am longing for integrity in the daycare’s response. If they care about safety and wellbeing, express it that way: “I care about safety and wellbeing, and when I see your daughter riding with you that way, I feel so nervous. I guess I could just look away, as it is up to you to make your own choices, yet I want to be transparent and tell you what’s going on for me, so I can have some integrity here. How does that land with you?”

    No threats. Respect the autonomy of parents.

    I’ve had a hard time overhearing parents berate their children. Children of all ages. I dared myself to speak up, step in, reflect what I’m seeing and hearing, in the hopes of contributing, but I default to, “Well, it’s their family, their choice.”

    But I realize my cowardice. I am afraid to be transparent and open about how other people’s behaviour affects me, and speaking openly about what I value. Not to judge people, but to share with them that they are having an impact on the community, not just their own kid.

    But I quail in the face of those kinds of confrontations, so I let the kid have their experience.

    In this case, I might say something to mom, if what they were doing got my adrenaline flowing, but then again, maybe not. I could give the gift of not my opinion, but my response to their choices, and simply be heard… but it’s hard for anyone to hear even me talking about my experience without thinking it’s a judgement of them, so I keep quiet.

    This mom is making a choice. Her child is complying willingly with the protocol. So far, no injuries. And if there were an injury, would punishing Mom do anything to help the injured child? Don’t you imagine Mom would change her protocol after that anyway?

    But if the protocol is working for Mom and kid but it’s bothering you, you have two options: Look away and respect their autonomy, or approach with care and respect and speak the truth of your heart without judgement, threats or blame.

    Try it sometime.

  64. sigh October 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    P.S. I did tons of things with my young kids that involved some measure of risk.

    They are 9, 11, 13 and 14 now, and doing fine.

    We’ve had one “major” injury on a trampoline. One major injury in a combined 37 years of childhood.

    But many people have winced as they watched us making our parenting choices.

  65. Carrie October 4, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    These comments are driving me crazy! The point is not to judge others for how they raise their children even if it’s something you deem unsafe! I’ve seen people yell at their kids at the park or not use a car seat or something like this woman did and while I’m not one to do that with my kid, it’s none of my business and I’m not going to call CPS! People need to bud out of other people’s business! Seriously!

  66. Jon October 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    The new (October) issue of Brooklyn parent magazine has an article “Home Alone–Ready or Not?” that says “Child development experts agree, most kids are ready to stay home alone somewhere between 12 and 13, but there is no magical number.”

  67. Megan October 4, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    I feel like a lot of you are missing the point. It isn’t a question of whether or not this mom was actually riding safely or not. That is utterly beside the point and completely irrelevant. The issue is whether it constitutes abuse on a level that would require CPS intervention. It is absolutely absurd to insinuate that riding a bicycle with a child, however unsafely, should warrant a CPS investigation. I don’t care what the degree of relative safety, there is zero circumstance where bicycle riding with your child should be investigated. It’s complete and utter nonsense.

  68. Nadine October 4, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    I’m dutch I grew up on a bike and yes no kids on the back or front of the bike wear a helmet here. But most of us do prefer kids seats on the bike. It’s not just safer, it’s also more comfortable for the kid. Not to say that a rde in the front basket or crate never happens or a back rack ride is a sign of bad parrenting. But if it is a main way of transportation. Looking in on some good equipment to do so aint a luxery

  69. lollipoplover October 4, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    “Well, since it’s required by law that children wear a helmet AND childcare workers are required by law to report when a child has been abused or is endangered, they really didn’t have a choice.”

    How was this child abused or endangered??
    Should they also report EVERY parent they observe talking or texting on cellphones while driving? Distracted driving kills more children than biking accidents.
    What about parents that smoke around their kids? How about those who feed their kids fast food and junk food? Diabetes and obesity are KILLERS!

    Judgement is a slippery slope. Sometimes a bike ride is just a bike ride, not a death march.

  70. LCB October 4, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    I would agree that it would be safer for the child to ride in a helmet. There are also some nice seats that attach to the front of the bike so that you’re not fussing with those bulky bike trailers. (The latter, by the way, is about as unsafe as seat-sharing—cars not seeing it, bush and tree entanglements, menacing stray dogs chasing it . . . )

    My biggest problem is that parents are getting punished for takings *risks.* Risks, even the ones that leave us the most uncomfortable, are not in and of themselves child abuse.

    To make matters worse, the judgements and punishments for risk-taking are irrationally arbitrary. Leave your kid in the car on a temperate day to pay for gas and risk a kidnapping? You negligent parent, you. Take the kid into the gas station and risk a parking lot accident or crazed gunman robbing the place? Why, you’re just being a responsible parent, right?

    In the vast majority of cases, the risks and benefits that we assume with our children need to be our own call as parents. Not the State’s.

    To repeat, risk-taking alone is not child abuse. CPS is for child abuse and nothing else. Child abuse looks like scars, burns, bruises, and starvation . . . not sharing a bike seat with a child.

  71. Kelly Matthews October 4, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    I am right there with biking mom. Though no one has threatened me with a call to the authorities. I bike with my kids to their elementary school and if, for some reason, I don’t, they walk. BY THEMSELVES. I may pick them up with my bike. The older one (8.5) will walk and I will ride the younger one (5) on my bike’s book rack. He is thrilled (as this mom said) to ride behind me and hold on to my waist.
    I have two older sons who are very independent and I think much of that is that they get themselves around walking and biking.
    We really should let go of the idea that kids are in constant danger. But will we?

  72. Donna October 4, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    Most of the comments here involve a statement similar to “I find this to be unsafe and personally believe that the mother should not continue to do it, but the daycare was wrong to threaten CPS involvement.” Folks, that is absolutely not judging the mother!!! We are all allowed to have differing opinions of safety. We are allowed to express those opinions. And, frankly, if you put your actions out on a public website asking for opinions, you just may get opinions that don’t agree with you.

    If people were saying that the mother was a bad mother or that she deserved to have her children taken away by CPS for doing this, THAT would be judging. Expressing an opinion about something presented to them for their opinion is not judging.

  73. Papilio October 4, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    I think this is the video you’re all looking for:
    ( < music video, also featuring babies on bikes)
    This, to me, is normal urban traffic. It also explains why I'm the last person to whine about a missing helmet.

    When I first saw this comment, I assumed the kid would be sitting on the luggage rack (hence my comment about getting panniers to keep the girl's feet away from the spokes). Now that I see people talk about bikes with long seats that can be shared (or not…) by two people, I'm very curious to see a picture of just what kind of bike we're talking about here… It IS still a pedal bike, right??

    Parents over here do put their young children in some sort of seat, so no seat would be abnormal. But: this mom knows her child and whether she'll do stupid stuff or not, and this mom knows where she rides and how fastand what the traffic is like etc, so ultimately I feel it's up to her. (Do the people of the daycare even cycle themselves? Can you really judge the kind of risk involved when you haven't ridden a bike in decades (/ ever) and just read media stories about biking = brain damage and kids = disaster waiting to happen?)

    @Jim Collins: I must admit I always cringe when I see pictures of really young children (young toddlers and even babies) wearing helmets: what is the extra weight going to do to their little necks in case of any sudden movement, even when there is no actual impact? (Plus the helmet increases the chance of a hit in the first place…)

    @susan: Are you sure it was hand-made? In this cycling culture there is a lot on the second-hand market for low prices, plus I've seen before how Americans tend to think a lot of what they see is after-market (lights, racks, mudguards, coat guards, O-lock…), so I hope you'll forgive me for being slightly sceptical 🙂

    @Elin: "very bicycle friendly town" On a scale from the USA to The Netherlands, how friendly is that? Friendlier than the Swedish average?

  74. Andrea October 4, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    Wow, these comments are horrendous. Everyone knows what’s best for everyone else, and they’ll pull up government stats or whatever to do it. Guess what? It’s NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. Not just the daycare’s — YOURS. Get off your high horses about helmets and separate seats and oh dear, dear, dear, she’s not being a good enough mom for us! Tsk tsk!

    Is she beating the child? No. Is she depriving the child of food? No. Is she leaving a 3-year-old at home alone for 8 hours a day? No. THEN SHUT THE HELL UP. She is not abusing or neglecting the child. And if she’s parenting “recklessly,” again, that’s none of your business. To me, the hug rides sound lovely, and, even if they didn’t, it’s still NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

    So stop judging. This is supposed to be a place for free-range parenting. You all sounds just as pearl-clutchingly uptight as mainstream parents. Ugh.

  75. James Pollock October 4, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    “To repeat, risk-taking alone is not child abuse. CPS is for child abuse and nothing else.”
    No, it’s for abuse and neglect.

    Risky behavior may or may not fall under the category of “neglect”. (Depends on the risk… how serious are the consequences? How likely?… but also, is the risk accurately assessed? Are there meaningful alternatives?)

  76. James Pollock October 4, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    “I’m very curious to see a picture of just what kind of bike we’re talking about here… It IS still a pedal bike, right??”

    Easily accomplished:….0…1ac.1.64.img..1.15.1030.tRWiRQSp9eA

  77. James Pollock October 4, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

    “Everyone knows what’s best for everyone else, and they’ll pull up government stats or whatever to do it. Guess what? It’s NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. Not just the daycare’s — YOURS.”

    Does the same rule apply to complaints of “helicopter parenting”? Just curious.

    “Is she beating the child? No. Is she depriving the child of food? No. Is she leaving a 3-year-old at home alone for 8 hours a day? No. THEN SHUT THE HELL UP. She is not abusing or neglecting the child.”

    You supplied answers to your own questions, but your answers are different from mine.
    Is she beating the child? I don’t know.
    Is she depriving the child of food? I don’t know.
    Is she leaving a 3-year-old at home alone for 8 hours a day? I don’t know.

    This changes the conclusion from “”She is not abusing or neglecting the child” to “She is not abusing or neglecting the child, as far as I know.” In the meantime, she’s free to have an opinion about whether her choices are appropriate or not, and I am, too, whether they agree or not. And you remain free to agree with either one of us, both of us, or neither of us. Ain’t America great?

  78. m October 4, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

    This is probably the first post on this blog that hasn’t made me go RIGHT ON. In my city this mom would be breaking the law; kids under 13 in NYC are required by law to wear a helmet. I think the school did right by warning her, and it was kind to give her a heads-up before reporting her. I agree with other commenters: There are good bike seats that would still work for a 3-year-old and I am truly distressed by seeing kids on bikes without helmets. While I think most of the examples of invasive busybody meddling on this blog are indeed nutballs, and I don’t know anyone whose child was kidnapped by a stranger or who was attacked while walking in daylight to a local playground, I know two people who died and one who was paralyzed while biking without a helmet.

  79. Kerri October 4, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    Andrea- my comments were based on real statistics from large studies approved by the AAP were they examined over half a million bike accidents in a one year period. Also, “properly fitted” bike helmets do protect more than just top of the head impact. Finally, I’m not going to put my kid’s safety on the line based on anecdotes from from one person’s doctor friend. If you want to believe in a conspiracy theory scam over bike helmets…, whatever.

  80. JR October 4, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    It may be worth checking into the local laws regarding cycling, because what Seether is doing may not just be unsafe, but also illegal – basically, the equivalent of not making your kid wear a seat belt.

    For example, in my location, the law says that all children under 18 must wear a helmet, and also that a bicycle may only transport the number of people it is built to transport. This means that a single-seater adult bike needs buddy pegs, a trailer, a trail-a-bike seat, or a rear-rack kiddie seat before it is legal to transport another person on it.

    I think the daycare’s response was over the top. But as a cyclist myself, I know how much unwarranted opprobrium the cycling community faces from misinformed drivers, and also how much we bring upon ourselves by certain people who insist on doing stupid, unsafe, or illegal things. I would encourage Seether to behave like a responsible cyclist, learn the rules of their jurisdiction, and make the necessary changes to ensure that they and their child are good “roll” models for the cycling community.

  81. Mother who cares October 4, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    First of all, it’s against the law to not have a helmet on a child, depending where she lives. We are in California, it’s the LAW!
    She should be reported to CPS. What kind of MORON thinks a 3 year old “hugging her at the waist” can cling precariously to momma riding a bicycle? For more than 30 seconds, were you born last night or what?
    I can’t even begin on how idiotic this woman is.
    So, wait, she HAS a proper trailer and a helmet for the child, but is too LAZY to put them on her?

    Yes, I would report her immediately to the authorities.

  82. Warren October 4, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    LOL! At all those who think the helmet laws are there for safety. They are not. Like most safety laws, of this nature, the laws are there because some group lobbied the gov’t long enough and loud enough, to get them passed. Usually sponsored and financially supported by those that make helmets and other such safety equipment.

    Personally helmets should be a personal choice, as it is a Personal Safety Device, and in the event of accident the only one that suffers is the person with the choice.

    As for the way they rode, I would prefer this to any attached seat or trailer. With her child tucked in tight to her, there is no change to her center of gravity, and balance. I also prefer on bikes that any riders be able to be separated from the bike in an accident, as it is not like a car that surrounds you.

  83. Barry Lederman October 4, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    Why is the daycare getting involved? Do they have some kind of liability here that I am unaware of?

  84. bmj2k October 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    I’m not sure this warrants a call to CPS, but I think I’m leaning towards the daycare side on this. I am especially concerned about the mother’s attitude about the whole thing, especially about the almost resentment about getting a helmet.

  85. Jay Pierson October 4, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

    The only way this madness is going to stop is if people start fighting back. Give us the names of the people who constantly call CPS or criticize your parenting. Or those who continue to sue school districts when their children get hurt. Now that we have social media, we need to use it to shame these people. Maybe we need to turn the clock back to the 40s and 50s were trouble makers were sent out of town on the rails.

  86. Michelle October 4, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    It’s interesting how much this struck a nerve with commenters. It definitely did with me. Reporting to CPS is definitely unwarranted. It is particularly outrageous for another parent to threaten her — another parent has no familial or professional obligation toward her child. That would infuriate me.

    But it’s hard to rally around this woman who is transporting her daughter in a way that really does seem unsafe, especially when she has a safer alternative that’s a bit more inconvenient. I understand the range of what is considered “safe” is really relative and that the safety of helmets are debatable, but not even putting the daughter on a separate seat seems really out there and hard to support.

    I understand that’s not the point, but I guess she isn’t a good spokesperson for the message. Also, I thought free range kids was about supporting parents’ decisions to give their kids more independence — not just supporting parents in whatever they do. I don’t see it as a parental rights issue per se, but more as a response to the culture of fear and over parenting.

    Anyway, I hope she figures out a good arrangement that works for her because the trailer does seem kind of annoying.

  87. Michelle October 4, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

    Michelle, funny, to me it seems that the separate seat is way less important than a helmet.

    This reminds me of an argument about whether it’s safe to babywearing while riding a bike. Some felt it absolutely was not, because if you fell, you might fall on the baby and crush him.

    It seemed to me that, if you fell while wearing the baby, you might be able to catch yourself, or at least control the fall to protect the baby. But if you fell with the baby strapped into a bike seat, what are the chances of catching youryourself and catching the bike? If the bike goes down, baby goes down.

    Surely a child is safer attached to mom than strapped to a bike that is incapable of acting to protect him.

  88. Michelle October 4, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

    Michelle, the reason I said a helmet was debatable was because a few commenters have suggested that helmets don’t actually decrease the chance of injury and it seems like in the Netherlands, young kids don’t wear helmets but have their own seat. I figured they know what they are doing in the Netherlands bI don’t really know. My thought is that if she had her own seat, there is no danger of her letting go or slipping off.

    I suppose this just illustrated the general point that parents should do their own risk assessment.

  89. Clarence October 5, 2015 at 1:01 am #

    But of course the horrible, dangerous ways I see some parents drive with their kids in the backseat of a car – well THAT’S okay. If the kid is required to wear a helmet by law I’d say, put one on the kid, but keep biking whatever way you want.

  90. Joy N October 5, 2015 at 1:06 am #

    I, too, feel that this mom isn’t making the safest decisions re; her ThREE-year-old riding behind her on a bicycle W/O A HELMET. No one should ride a bicycle, adult or child, without wearing a helmet. When my ow daughter was little we had a seat that attached to the back of the bicycle itself. It seems that more and more this site is reporting things that are really NOT SAFE whether you are a freestyle or a hovering parent.

  91. Joy N October 5, 2015 at 1:41 am #

    Many people on here are overrlooking the fact that certain people, like Day Care Centers, are Mandatory Reporters. This mom needs to appreciate the fact that they warned her first because they should have, by law, called CPS w/out telling her anything. The law is the law. If there is a law requiring the wearing of a helmet, or a certain age before a child can be on a bicycle w/an adult w/out being secured, then that is the law. One commenter stated something to the effect of, “seeing children in the back seats of cars not okay…” No, it’s not. However, the driver has to be caught. Many people, including parents, break the law w/their children and get away w/it. It doesn’t make it right. Then, when someone does get caught, they cry, “unfair!” Why? They chose to ignore the law. This isn’t always about parental choice. Apply some logic, and remove most of the emotion and then judge the situation.

  92. James Pollock October 5, 2015 at 2:22 am #

    “Many people on here are overrlooking the fact that certain people, like Day Care Centers, are Mandatory Reporters.”

    Here is how it works in my own state. Your state or jurisdiction may have different rules.

    First off, it IS illegal to carry a child (person under 16 years of age) on a bicycle without a helmet. ORS 814.486(1)(b). There is an exception, which does not appear to apply, for religion ORS 814.487. The act of operating a bicycle without protective headgear is a traffic violation. It is not “abuse”, as defined in ORS 409B.005. Because it is not “abuse” as defined in the statute, it does not fall under the “mandatory reporter” statute, ORS 409B.010. Thus, the daycare center may choose to report (under the limitations of 409B.016) but they are not required to. Consult a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction if you need advice to guide your own actions.

  93. elizabeth October 5, 2015 at 3:04 am #

    Some of these comments are sad. Clearly, the mother had done this before, so she knew both the benefits and risks, as well as what her daughter was capable of handling. This article takes me back to when i was small enough for a child seat. I remember having fun, but also holding on to the sides of the seat because i felt unsafe in spite of the seatbelt. Im siding with the mom. Ive always rode without a helmet. Heck, i crashed into a tree at full speed going down a hill. I agree with those that say trailers, separate seats, and helmets dont make it any safer. The trailer could tip, or detatch, or get hit by a car. A faulty child sear could detatch from the bike, or a faulty restraint on one such seat could break if the rider hits a bump or has to swerve unexpectedly. And the separate seat idea seems desirable in theory- where nothing goes wrong ever- but if the bike crashes, the kid goes down with the bike. So, say the person is going down a hill and the brakes fail or even break. If they hit oncoming traffic or fall into a deep body of water, the kid in the child seat or trailer is as good as dead unless the parent is somehow in a position to minimally increase the chance of survival. Sorry about my rant. But i honestly dont see why what this mom did would be more dangerous than any other transportation option.

  94. sexhysteria October 5, 2015 at 3:37 am #

    I was criticized for transporting my kids on a motorcycle even with helmets.

  95. Beth October 5, 2015 at 7:25 am #

    I’m having trouble picturing this. Is the child sitting somehow or is she just hanging on to mom, kind of as if she was mom’s backpack? My only thought would be what if her arms get fatigued?

  96. common sense October 5, 2015 at 7:48 am #

    I believe in helmets but they are not a cure all. first they have to be properly fitted and worn correctly to do any good at all. if loose or wrong incorrectly, such as high on the head or pushed back, .. they are then more dangerous than no helmet. the chance of neck injury increases rapidly. sadly many parents just stick a helmet on their kids and let them wear it any way they want because”they don’t like it snug ot tight” or “it’s too uncomfortable down where it belongs”.

  97. common sense October 5, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    sorry, should be loose or worn incorrectly…the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet

  98. lollipoplover October 5, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    I probably have $500 worth of helmets in my garage now. The kids bike daily to school and it’s a requirement to have a helmet if you’re a biker. The ski club also requires helmets so I have those too. I never wore a helmet doing either of these activities growing up. My daughter plays field hockey. She is required to wear 3 pieces of safety gear- eye guard, mouth guard, and shin guards- to even step foot on the field. Yet the kids still get injured.
    Our neighbor got a concussion and a broke his nose skiing. He wore the required helmet (but did a face plant snow boarding). A helmet does not guarantee protection.
    And every bike ride involving children is not a potential death march.

  99. lollipoplover October 5, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Confession: I have let my kids ride their bikes without helmets.

    We borrowed a relative’s beach house this summer and my kids had invited friends to stay with us. My daughter’s best friend was so excited to go (her dad is very sick with cancer) because it would be her only vacation that summer with all that was going on in her family. Sadly, the day we were supposed to leave for the beach, this 11 yo girl found out she had a tumor in her lung and needed to undergo treatment right away.

    She still wanted to go. Honestly, she needed the beach and to be a kid. Her doctors gave her the clear and the dad dropped her off on our second day there. We did everything- canoe (with life jackets), paddleboard, swim and jump off the docks, fish and crab. We went to borrow the beach cruisers to bike up to the beach but I noticed there were no bike helmets. So we discussed safe bike riding and biked without. We biked to get boardwalk pizza from the beach and up and down the boards, shopping. The biking just added to an awesome trip that this kid so needed. Her dad came for a day to hang out by the water and drove her home for her treatment. They did surgery and removed the mass and found it was benign. Her mom said she woke from surgery talking about her beach trip and how much fun she had.

    I can’t imagine what kind of trip this would be if we had someone like a “Mother who cares” doing this to me:

    “Yes, I would report her immediately to the authorities.”

    I beg your pardon, calling the authorities is not something that ANYONE who cares would ever do! If you actually cared, and weren’t just being a sanctimommy, you would have a conversation with someone to show concern. Reporting someone makes you an asshole. The opposite of someone who cares.

  100. JJ October 5, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    I agree with Michelle. I wouldn’t call CPS or even say anything to her but I also wouldn’t hold her up as a great example of Free Range parenting. The naysayers already like to say FR is just lazy, risk taking parenting. Which it isn’t. However, this letter writer admits (her “second thought”) that it is unsafe then goes on to say it has been convenient then complains how she’ll have to shop in the rain. Look, convenience is an important and a factor to be considered, but overall I just don’t think this is the example to use for FRK.

    Also –all I can picture is a mama and baby koala bear.

  101. E October 5, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    This has been beaten to death. Donna reflects my thoughts on it.

    I do think the original poster is mixing a few things up. Safety (mode/method of transport) and exercise/stimulation (parenting decisions re: screens) are actually 2 different things.

    If she’s going to use LOTS of capital LETTERS when discussing other people’s choices, then she’s not exactly embracing the mentality that I think FR is about either. Allowing other people the right to make parenting decisions without judgement. I’m not sure why someone allowing their kids to use a screen makes anyone SEETH.

    I totally support her discussing the CPS threat with the day care. Do they have a legal responsibility or do they just think this falls into it? Can the daycare communicate with parents without the thread of CPS? Perhaps that’s something to reflect on with them once the current situation is behind them.

    Would people feel the same about a daycare being concerned about a parent not strapping the child into a car restraint system?

  102. Elin October 5, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    “@Elin: “very bicycle friendly town” On a scale from the USA to The Netherlands, how friendly is that? Friendlier than the Swedish average?”

    Friendlier than average in Sweden I would say. Plenty of bike lanes, many people ride their bikes to work if not in winter at least spring until late autumn, many families do not own a car and use bikes/bus and occasionally rent a car instead, not owning a bike is considered strange and so on. In general in Sweden university towns are very bike friendly and my hometown is of this kind.

  103. Emily Sports October 5, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Get a helmet and a kids seat. Head injury is the one injury we won’t take risks with for our daughter. There are a wide range of price points for front and rear mount kids seats. I can also highly recommend a trail-a-bike.

    I ride a long tail cargo bike with a yepp kids seat and it is much more convenient than the pull-behind trailer. The kid needs a helmet.

    I have been a bike commuter for 20 years and my 3.5 year old daughter has gone to daycare by car less than a dozen times in 3 years. I am also a pro/elite mountain bike and cyclocross racer. I met my husband bicycling and he also races. We ride bikes. We are a cycling family. The kid needs a helmet.

  104. Brooks October 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    I usually fall on the side of the parent, but in this case, I think it’s a bit of excessive whining. The long list of things she jots off would take me all of one minute. It’s not that big of a deal. And there’s no need to bother with the trailer – just get an inexpensive kid seat for the bike. There are hundreds of them.

    The school at least gave her a heads up. Maybe had they reminded, suggested, cajoled her instead of threatening her she wouldn’t be so upset.

    By the way, I DID have a large part of my heel cut off when my mom was riding me on her bike. And she really got a grilling at the hospital. And this was in 1966!

    Now if the school had threatened to call DHS just because she was using a bike, that would be a different story altogether.

  105. Warren October 5, 2015 at 3:09 pm #


    I hear what you are saying about sports protective gear. Awhile back my youngest daughter’s ball league changed the rules. They wanted all players to have a face cage on their batting helmet. My daughter was 11 at the time. She hated it. It was uncomfortable and impeded her vision. So some other parents and I went to the league and requested that it become a personal option, and not mandatory. They denied. The second meeting was met with more parents, and one long ass speech by me, and based on the fact that the cage impairing the batter’s vision, which in turn caused more kids to not react soon enough to avoid being hit by a pitch. With their vision impaired, their reaction time for deciding on whether to swing at the pitch was also affected. The league caved and made it personal option.
    I had one mother, who was rather snooty say to me, “So you want your child to get hurt?” My response was simple and to the point, “No, but I do want her to learn to duck and avoid being hit.”.

  106. Jessica October 5, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    Yes, in some states there are helmet laws for kids, but in others, like the one where I live, you don’t have to have one to ride a motorcycle, let alone a bike. And it may be against the law, but that doesn’t mean that by not adhering to the law you are guilty of endangerment or neglect. There’s some overlap between the two, but not always. And again, how does crossing state lines change the risk of an activity? Answer: it doesn’t.

  107. lollipoplover October 5, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    I forgot about the baseball/softball helmets! I have 3 of those too. The girls are required to have the face cage while the boys do not. It wasn’t a problem for my daughters with the vision as they are both catchers and used to it. I don’t know if it’s the faster wild pitch or the eye obstruction but I witnessed many more of the girls hit by pitches than the boys did.
    I played women’s lacrosse this spring after not playing in over a decade. I was required to wear protective eye gear and honestly, i couldn’t see for the life of me and did terrible. We weren’t required to wear these back when I played and I don’t know of anyone who had an eye injury. It’s a great sport but with the gear required, it’s dangerous for us older folks who can’t see through these cages.

  108. Peter October 5, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    I think the hug ride is fun for a short duration around the block–I’ve had small children on my handlebars–and I assume the mom has a reasonable set-up for this. And I assume the Mom rides carefully.

    But, yeah, I’d say you should probably stay off the thoroughfares in this kind of configuration. They can be unpredictable. As someone mentioned, a good solid bump in the road or something else unexpected would be bad.

    That’s why I’d suggest a helmet as well–for both.

    Yeah, when I was a kid, I never wore a helmet and I bicycled on main roads and I never had a problem–but I also never had an accident. As an adult, living in a city with about 4000x the population, I’ve had a few bicycle accidents over the last 10 years, a couple of which made me glad I was wearing a helmet. Broken bones heal. Brains, not so much.

    That said, I love the hug ride concept. I always think it’s kind of sad seeing kids being dragged along behind their parents in these trailers. What’s worse is some of these trailers are tent-like, so the kid can’t really see all that much going on. They’re not involved in the ride in any way at all. They can’t talk to anyone and no one can talk to them.

    There are some interesting solutions out there for transporting small kids on bicycles. There are ones that mount on the handlebars. While they make me a bit nervous (having gone over the handlebars a couple of times), I think it’s a neat idea if the kid is small enough. I also like the “half-bikes” that attach to the back and make the kid an active participant (or at least seem like one) rather than just a dead-weight to be pulled around.

  109. Warren October 5, 2015 at 4:34 pm #


    That reminds me. Our oldtimers hockey league madated cages on our helmets, and they wouldn’t listen to anyone. All of us grew up playing with just a regular helmet. They wouldn’t even let us use the clear visors. Two years later they were having the annual general meeting.They were concerned with the recent rise in collision injuries, even more so since it is a non-contact league. A few of us spoke up that it was the cages. With the built in chin guard and the cage itself, you could no longer just look down with your eyes, you actually had to tilt and bend forward to see the area around your feet. Once my buddy brought it up, it cascaded threw the ranks, with the ah ha moment, because everyone had been doing it but not made the connection.

    That is the thing with personal protective gear. Most of the time it isn’t a simple addition of a protective layer, as a lot of, including helmets, detract from the human factor. Either by impairing the field of vision, restricting movement, or the ever dangerous false sense of security. The false sense of security is more dangerous than ever, as those with all the protective gear on tend to take more risks, that they normally wouldn’t, and others believe you to be more protected and will hit harder, less concern about raising their hockey stick, throw pitches closer to the batter and so on.

  110. Havva October 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    My daughter rides in a trailer and we have talked to her loads in that thing. Not all the time, some roads get noisy for that. But often on the bike trail and in the neighborhood streets. I can’t say perfectly about her visibility. But my husband and I both remember what the visibility was like in the rack mounted seats on our dads’ bikes. We couldn’t see a thing in those seats but the back of our dad and a small strip of light on either side. My daughter points out dogs, and signs and other kids and stuff, so it has got to be a better view than I had, because all I remember seeing was my dad’s back.

  111. sigh October 5, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    Autonomy. I respect parents’ autonomy. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever express to them what I value and how their behaviour effects ME, but I wouldn’t be doing that in the spirit of insisting they adhere to what I think is the best strategy… the strategy is their choice.

    I was in a situation where I was part of a community that was vetting people to join. A young family hung out with our group for a while, and there were some very awkward incidents with their little kids, who were both toddlers. The parents seemed to allow the kids to jump on others’ furniture, pull up plants in their gardens, run toward the street without interference (other nearby adults reflexively grabbed the kids before they got to the road).

    They allowed their very young kids to climb on equipment at the playground they fell from (over three foot drop onto sand), and on a private property with a little pond, the parents allowed the 2-year-old to go to the pond alone and the kid fell in and was rescued by Dad, who had not brought any spare clothes, so host family lent some that were never returned.

    All in all, our group got the impression that these parents were not just “Free Range” but abdicating responsibility and consideration. It was stressful for our group to be around them, as we couldn’t figure out when and whether to intervene. We had another family who never hovered over their kids the same ages, but allowed them to explore, always encouraging them to ask before touching others’ belongings, etc, and guiding the toddlers away from obvious hazards.

    The first family seemed overwhelmed with their lot. They took their eyes off their toddlers when the rest of us were around in a way that invited the impression that they were fried and just wanted someone else to take over for a while, but they didn’t make direct requests about that.

    I confronted them and tried my best to explain what we’d observed and why we had concerns about responsibility and how the parents’ choices were affecting the group as a whole. They chose to drop out of the group, saying, “We are clearly not perfect enough for you.” I felt crummy about it.

    Never, and I mean never, did any of us consider calling the authorities. In fact, we figured these somewhat “wild” little boys would grow up just fine, but we weren’t too keen about being in close proximity to their growing up unless the parents were open to hearing about how their actions affected others.

    Little one riding on mom’s bike? Not affecting me. Not in the slightest. I mean, maybe I feel a little nervous, but that is MY PROBLEM, NOT HERS. I can tell her I feel nervous, but I cannot demand she do something different. Calling CPS is a way of demanding she do something different by threatening her. I don’t believe that sustainable solutions can be struck through threats.

  112. Anna October 5, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    “My daughter rides in a trailer and we have talked to her loads in that thing.”

    Me too, and we use our trailer all the time, for most of our daily errands. Friends’ kids who have joined him for a ride (it’s a two-seater) have exclaimed about how much more fun it is than riding in a car.

    I normally leave the top up, by the way, since the visibility is better, unless our route has a lot of sand and dust that will get kicked up.

    And by the way – horrors! – I don’t make my son wear a helmet in the trailer. There’s no law about it in our state, he hates it, and I don’t think head injury is at all likely in the trailer. Also, I don’t wear a helmet on my bike, so it seems a bit hypocritical.

  113. Bicycling mama October 5, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

    Seems like a lot of things going on here. First of all, there are people in all of our communities who believe that biking with kids is unsafe, period. I think it’s great that this mom and this thread overall seems to support biking with kids. Driving is much more likely to result in a crash/injury/death.

    Second, as has been stated, most states have laws about youth wearing bike helmets, and observing those laws helps with the PR effort to combat the problem of people who don’t bike, thinking that people who do bike (with or without kids) are crazy. I feel like a lot of the “unsafe” I get from people in cars when I bike, is due to a lack of respect. So this is not a moral comment, but a practical strategy for increasing the legitimacy of people on bikes: observe the law, or at least don’t flagrantly violate it.

    Third, I didn’t own a car until I had a second child, and we’ve fielded many questions from parents about whether to get a bike seat or a trailer. It never occurred to me to trust a three-year-old to just “hang on” – too much risk of the “Squirrel!” effect (ie, distracted child lets go) and it sounds quite uncomfortable (depending on your bike setup). We have a seat on a cargo bike, and now a railing too for our older daughter, and while it’s an expensive bike, it’s way cheaper than a car. Anyway, I’ll have to think more about that one. But biking with kids is pretty common in our city and I have never seen anyone just have their kid hang on.

    Given all that, calling CPS seems out of line (although they could totally call the cops if your state has a law requiring youth to wear helmets). But if your day care is of the mindset that biking with kids is unsafe, period, I could see why they’d have that reaction. Which is a lot about bike fear as much as parental responsibility, and very sad for our kids and our planet.

  114. Steve October 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    I don’t know about the helmet, but in Minnesota the law states you have to have a child seat attached to the bike to legally carry a child.

  115. Andy October 6, 2015 at 5:49 am #

    Funny, everyone emphasize helmet, but I would see a dedicated seat as the thing that would do more difference in this scenario. Adults do not fall with bikes all that much and adults with kids on bike tend to go slow. A three years old just sitting on the back is more likely to fall just form loosing attention – and he is less likely to make head first spike jump helmet protects from. Helmet wont protect face and rest of body all that much

    Sometimes I think peoples believe in helmets as they used to in god.

    Btw, checkout those Papilio videos, they are cute. And I agree that a lot of (mostly Americans?) tend to see cycling as something disproportionately dangerous. It is as if they would instantly imagined a bike going by competition speed (40km/h) or downhill in the middle of forest. People who use bikes as transport often go slow – they do not even sweat that slow it is.

    Every time (mostly Americans?) discuss bikes on internet, I gets to sound like some kind of extreme dangerous activity. When I was in Netherlands, I have seen an old lady in styled cloth on bike holding umbrella and calling from cell phone while slowly calmly biking in rain. It was way more mundane activity then it sounds to be in here.

  116. James Pollock October 6, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    “I agree that a lot of (mostly Americans?) tend to see cycling as something disproportionately dangerous. It is as if they would instantly imagined a bike going by competition speed (40km/h) or downhill in the middle of forest.”

    Actually, THIS American thinks the danger comes mostly from cars, and is fairly sure that most “bike-riding” injuries come from being hit by a car while bike-riding, rather than from anything inherent in being on a bike.

  117. E October 6, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    @Bicycling Mama — this is a bit OT, but I appreciate your efforts (and viewpoint) in regard to cyclists and what careless ones do to the safe majority.

    I have cyclists in my family who are really sticklers about their behavior, but then I’ve experienced cyclists on our local paved greenways that are a) going over the posted speed limit for bikes, 2) don’t alert walkers when they pass (even when we’ve got a dog on a leash — I’d think they’d do it for their own safety) and 3) refuse to move to single file when they encounter walkers.

    As much as our greenways are lovely and we love to use them, we “hate the cyclists” and mostly avoid them if we’ve got our dog. And the kicker is, that we do it for THEIR safety. It’s the one place we encounter bikes in such close proximity and so we’re not sure how our dog is going to react if she’s startled.

    Anyway — your viewpoint is valid. If someone wants to encourage/endorse using bikes as a safe alternative to cars, then it would make sense to model good, safe, standard, universally accepted bike safety.

  118. Anon October 6, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    For those still having trouble imagining what the riding set up looks like, here’s a reference.

    Second photo, the little girl in the blue helmet and pink tutu is riding on the rear rack and can easily “hug” mom from behind.

    I totally agree that the kid should wear a helmet, but just a note on child bike seats: most front mounted ones max out at 33lbs and the rear mounted ones at 40lbs, we don’t know if this kid is big or small for her age but it’s quite possible she has outgrown the former type and could outgrow one of the latter in under a year, making a $100+ purchase unappealing. Rear mounted seats also mess with a bikes center of gravity and, as already mentioned, take the child down with the bike in the event of a crash.

    (Random lurker posting just once, kinda late for the point of it…..)

  119. Pauline October 6, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    They felt they needed to REPORT you for carrying a 3-year-old on your bike? I’m Dutch and I think that is the most ludicrous and absurd thing I’ve heard in a long time…. Almost ALL parents ride their bikes with kids here, often with TWO young children (the youngest in a handlebar seat and an older child in a seat attached to the back carrier. It’s almost the default state to transport younger children here (from age 5-6 they ride on their own bike, next to the parent) on the daily trips to school, the grocery store, sports clubs, park, playgrounds, etc.

    This is absurd. I know the cycling culture and infrastructure of my country is much safer than that of the US, but I’m sure this particular parent was well aware what the risks were and thought it safe enough to transport a toddler on the back of the bike. As for the foot-in-spokes risk, over here parents attach little simple side-thingies (don’t know the translation, sorry) so the kid on the back carrier can place his/her feet on them instead of letting them dangle near the wheel. For kids age 4 or so and up, you can also attach a simple metal back-support so the child sitting on the rear can’t fall off backwards. Works fine here and hets thousands of children from and to school and all other places they might be driven in the US.

  120. Pauline October 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    Oh, and children hardly ever wear helmets here when riding their own bike. let alone when being carried on their parents’ bike. And miraculously, the streets aren’t paved with cracked little skulls. It obviously does help tremendously that we have a very safe cycling infrstructure and that most drivers are also cyclist, or their family-members are, and so take extra care.

  121. Roberta October 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    People may reasonably disagree about the risks they would or would not take on a bicycle. The real issue here is the threat of CPS. There are a million other ways for schools to provide feedback before resirting to law enforcement. In fact, the threat of CPS arguably brings a higher risk of harm than a ride on a bicycle without a helmet.

  122. Sally October 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    So is it unsafe or potentially so? What?!!! Everyone one of you judging whether this is safe or not should ask yourself whether or not you would like someone to do this to you. Life is about living and we are all susceptible to getting hurt no matter what precautions are put into place. If you judge that it is neglect and worthy of ruining someone’s life over remember you are just one phone call away from having someone do the same to you.

    The point being is: someone gets to judge whether you are a ‘good’ parent or ‘bad’ one then turn you in if they decide you are not as good as them. Then the state, with unlimited powers, gets to destroy that family without a trial. So really it is about you getting the State to do the job you set out to do: destroy the person who is different than you. Congrats, you’re a real hero and I am sure that child will be so thankful you stepped in. (I mean it is your job right?)

  123. James Pollock October 6, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    ” If you judge that it is neglect and worthy of ruining someone’s life ”

    Her life is ruined because she has to buy the kid a bike helmet?

  124. autumn October 7, 2015 at 6:52 am #

    @tom, i agree with you, I did all sorts of the same roof type, ravine swinging types of things as a kid! Lol, my parents knew I was a free spirit, street smart kid, so I ran!! I think u misunderstood my context to the roof thing. This is what someone posted at me:

    “if someone walked by my home and saw my 2 year old playing alone on the roof and I told you to butt out because I know my 2 year old and I know they are perfectly safe up there, I doubt any sane person would say, “Oh, Ok. You know your child best,” and keep walking. Because some things are just obviously unsafe”

    I meant wow that’s a extreme comparison to a kid riding with the mom on a bike. This person was responding to me saying I think the mom knew what she & her kid were capable of. And people need to butt out! Lol. This is totally late & I’m sure going to go unnoticed. Just wanted to clear that up….I agree tom!

  125. Just a Mom October 7, 2015 at 7:31 am #

    This is awful with the way they changed CPS 4 tier system you will definitely have a file on you and your husband for life. The anxiety and depression that you and your family will go through in a CPS investigation is unbelievable. They will invade your home and you will have no freedom or rights. As a parent you are treated as guilty from the get go. Get a lawyer ASAP they will interview your children without any adult present to protect them. Your husband and you will be subjected to the most awful question sessions ever. Your child will probably have nightmares and anxiety from now on about Mommy going to jail, because CPS will bring the police into your life too. They will send questionnaires to schools and doctors trying to find dirt on you.
    School personnel had to undergo more training in recent years in reporting to be more careful in reporting, because CPS is not protecting families or children but destroying them.
    Do not write anything to the school and take your child out of that school immediately. Anything you say or do will be used against you from now on. You have no protection or rights against CPS. My heart breaks for you, because yes parents make mistakes, but we get no support from our community or country. All you hear is CPS do such a great job protecting children. They don’t they destroy families.The next 60 days will destroy everything that you had think about your country and your rights and freedom. I wish people will think before they act and call CPS.

  126. James Pollock October 7, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    “This is awful with the way they changed CPS 4 tier system you will definitely have a file on you and your husband for life.”

    They open a file you because someone, somewhere, threatens to call CPS to report something? That IS alarming.

    “All you hear is CPS do such a great job protecting children.”
    No. This is not the case. Just the opposite, in fact… they can’t win unless they’re perfect. If they let a child stay in a home and they should have removed that child, they’re to blame for what follows. If they remove a child who should have been left in the home, they’re bureaucratic monsters. The result is an agency that swings back and forth between being too hesitant to remove children, to one that is too eager to remove children, depending on which type of mistake was last in the local news.

    “I wish people will think before they act and call CPS.”
    And I wish people would read the whole story and see whether or not CPS is actually involved in a story before they launch into their rant against CPS. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I do, and actually get YOUR wish.

  127. Papilio October 7, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    I see more Dutch people and people who’ve been here chimed in 🙂

    For people who first readily admit they never cycled with a helmet when they were young and then insist all cyclists should wear a helmet, I hope you realize that 1) there are vast differences between riding in the Tour de France on a lightweight roadbike or off-roading on a mountainbike or even cycling on heavy throughfares with a good chance of getting hit by a car versus slowly cycling on a utility bike on quiet streets with a reasonably maintained surface or actual bike tracks (assumed they’re decent), and 2) certainly for utility cycling there is still no conclusive evidence that bike helmets are effective, all things considered.

    @Anon: thanks for the link, that is indeed how I initially pictured it (that bike is an Omafiets btw: a grannybike. An “Opa” would have a top bar.).

    @Havva: Holiday story in my family (since I don’t remember it): when I was four, my parents went cycling in the dunes with Little Brother and me. LB in a kid seat attached to my mother’s handlebars, I sat on the rear rack (no idea about seat) of my father’s bike and indeed, wanted to see! So I leaned sideways and he cycled with one hand under my chin, only to feel I got heavier and heavier: I had fallen asleep 😀

  128. Papilio October 7, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    Oh – Lenore, re: that well-known quote: do you actually remember your father holding the handlebars for you when you learned to ride a bike?
    Because I must have been 4 or 5 when I learned and honestly don’t remember it at all, plus holding the handlebars doesn’t sound like a smart method since it’s the kid’s job to steer/keep their balance. Since you’re the second child, surely your father must have found that out by then? 🙂
    My father has told me that he just stuck a broomstick between the saddletube and the rear mudguard of our bikes and then used that as a handle to push and keep us from falling… 😀

  129. Sally October 7, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    @James Pollock

    After reading your comments, it appears you like to support CPS as though they are a shining example of heroism. I am curious. Are you a CPS worker or desire to be one?

    “In the meantime, she’s free to have an opinion about whether her choices are appropriate or not, and I am, too, whether they agree or not. And you remain free to agree with either one of us, both of us, or neither of us. Ain’t America great?”

    No, James, we are not free to disagree with you or anyone else. As parents, we have the constant threat of losing our kids or being turned in if we don’t agree with people or people see our decisions as different or more dangerous/suspicious/negligent/etc than theirs.

    Yes, CPS ruins lives more than they save. If you think that a worker just comes in for that one heresay complaint, you are quite mistaken. They then come in and judge EVERYTHING and like it or not, parents are not perfect. Depending on the social worker, that family can end up with intrusive measures to fix whatever they believe is ‘wrong’ (so no freedom of choice, but it is a threat you don’t comply and agree you lose your family). Or if the social worker deems a few dishes in the sink as neglect, a non-childproof lid on medication, no safety locks or whatever, then they can take a child for that. Really, it can depend on a day and the mood of the social worker whether the social worker likes you.

    When you report someone you just turned over a families fate is in the hands of a system designed to treat parents as guilty until proven innocent. The person that made the call just pointed their finger…. It reminds me of the witch trials that no one could be proven innocent. You know where they tied a woman up, weighted her down and threw her into the water. If she floated she was witch, if she drowned she was normal. The outcome wasn’t designed for the accused or their loved ones.

    I know for a fact of the horrendous things that take place in the system. I have a cousin that was adopted in his teens and foster care is not any better than most of the situations those kids come out of…. even the abusive ones. And I also have family that have done foster care and who know of the stories, most of them are not cases where you would think a child would be taken. So yes, personally, my family would say you are ridiculous that you would consider putting any family into the system over a helmet. The trauma from going through an investigation lasts for years for a family even if their kids are not taken. The real threat of losing a child vs the imagined ‘what if’ the child gets hurt is not worth it. Yes, ruining someones life is what it amounts too.

    You know anyone can be concerned about someone’s safety, the real heroes offer real help and not punishment for disagreements on how to live life.

  130. Beth October 7, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    @Sally, no, James is just a troll who has to take the opposite position of whoever he’s quoting, making fun of their thoughts and beliefs in the process. He wants commenters to engage him in argument so he can derail the conversation. He will now take every paragraph, if not line, that you’ve written and meticulously tell you why you’re wrong.

  131. James Pollock October 7, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    “After reading your comments, it appears you like to support CPS as though they are a shining example of heroism.”
    Is English your second language?

  132. Warren October 7, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    Thank you. Had you not said what you said, I am sure James would have written another small novel in response to Sally.

  133. James Pollock October 7, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

    “He will now take every paragraph, if not line, that you’ve written and meticulously tell you why you’re wrong.”
    On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to care what you think, although he DOES think it’s funny that, if it bothers you so damn much, you keep reading.

    Your personality analysis is about as good as the person who decided I’m gung-ho in favor of CPS based on my extensive writing of 0 posts in this thread that are even ABOUT CPS. I guess people see what they hope to see.

  134. MOBK October 8, 2015 at 2:51 am #

    For those people saying it is OK to threaten to report to CPS or advocating actually reporting to CPS – Do you think every parent that does a rolling stop with a kid in the back of the car should be reported to cPS. What if they exceed (even minimally) the speed limit with a kid in the car? Both are against the law. And both speeding and failing to stop when required are known causes/contributors to accidents.

    I guess my first point is that there should be something pretty egregious before you even think of reporting. Biking in a possibly sketchy setup doesn’t come close to making the grade for reporting. (and also doesn’t trigger any mandatory reports)

    The second point would be that this is only an issue because it biking. We routinely excuse all sorts of egregious driver behaviour that really does endanger occupants and bystanders yet we dump on this Mom for a less than perfect setup.

    PS: loved the dutch biking videos. We can only dream of such infrastructure here and I live in a very bike friendly location by N American standards

  135. Jonsson October 8, 2015 at 2:54 am #

    I feel like I’m echoing most everyone here

  136. andy October 8, 2015 at 6:21 am #

    @James “Her life is ruined because she has to buy the kid a bike helmet?”

    Threatening someone with removal of their children over bike helmet is threatening that someone with ruining their and their children lives.

    Being investigated by agency with power to go through your house whenever they decide to, demanding you come visit them whenever suits you, agency that can act on whim and you have very little defense from is huge hit into family life and privacy invasion. If you knowingly initiate all that because of helmet, then yes, you are trying to ruin her and her kids lives over a helmet.

  137. James Pollock October 8, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    “Threatening someone with removal of their children over bike helmet is threatening that someone with ruining their and their children lives.”

    OK. I’m now going to proceed to ruin your life.

    If you don’t start paying attention to your kids instead of staring a screen, I’M GOING TO REPORT YOU TO CPS.

    Boom. Ruined. MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA.

  138. Donna October 8, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    andy – Nobody threatened anyone with the removal of their children. They threatened to call CPS. The two are not the same thing.

    First, the vast majority of CPS investgations DO NOT result in the removal of children. The vast majority of CPS investigations are either closed as unsubstantiated or result in services being placed in the home with the children remaining there. The most likely result here is the mother signing a safety plan agreeing not to ride her child in this manner anymore – something most even here agree should happen anyway.

    Second, my guess is if you asked the daycare workers if they wanted the child removed and placed in foster care, the answer would be “no, we just want her to stop riding with the child that way.” Most people tend to think that they are right and others will act in accordance with them being right – meaning we expect those around us to act as we would act in the same situation and are surprised when they act differently. They don’t fully consider the power of the organization and its ability to go nuclear and remove the child, an unlikely but possible result in every encounter with CPS.

    I am still surpised, even after all these years, about the countless people who call the police expecting them to do something other than investigate a crime and arrest the perpetrator. Even here, among educated intelligent people, every time a police story comes up we get numerous versions of “why didn’t the police just help them find child care,” as if that is a cop’s job. There is clearly a disconnect between what we expect from our civil servants and what their jobs actually are. So, no, I don’t think the daycare workers thought through calling CPS to equal potentially child in foster care.

  139. Papilio October 8, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    @MOBK: “loved the dutch biking videos. We can only dream of such infrastructure here”

    You’re welcome. For what it’s worth, I think most places can become a lot cycle-friendlier (there just is a lot of room to improve…). But it seems like the only people currently asking/campaigning for it are in (/perceived as) that specific, “weird” minority of *Cyclists* (insert all the prejudices here), and not mainstream parents and other people dreaming of such infrastructure – whether they currently cycle or not.

  140. Papilio October 8, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    I suspect in a couple of years we’ll hear from this mom again when she takes her daughter to grade school like this: 😛

  141. Suzanne October 8, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    I think she should consider a tandem attachment for the bike, the trailer sounds like a PITA. If she’s riding a couple of blocks and can stay on sidewalk then I don’t see any problem with the way she’s riding with the kid – what is the real danger? The kid might fall off, but she said she is going slowly. A couple of people mentioned that 3 year olds are unpredictable but when it comes to letting go of mom on a moving bike, it’s not at all likely because they understand they will fall and they understand that will hurt. So if she is riding on sidewalk this should be basically as safe as anything can ever be but if she’s riding down the side of the road then they both need helmets and it’s probably a bad idea in general because we are back to cars being the danger.

  142. JanK October 11, 2015 at 4:46 am #

    “being sick and tired and able to just have her hop on behind me, rather than untangle the little bicycle trailer from the shed, hook it up, get her in there with her back pack and her seat belt, then ride to school, park in the BACK of the school, unhook the trailer, lock it up, unbuckle her, get her gear out, walk around the whole school to the front entrance walking my bike because I’ll need it to go to work afterwards etc…. blah, blah, blah.”

    Sure sounds like a lazy parent.
    What happens if your 3 year old slips off or lets go of you ?
    At least use a safety device to ensure that this does not happen.

    It is people like you who give our movement a bad name.

  143. KaIiMPoIxqXInDi October 11, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

    IgcvrehhDsJibwEkEi 6717

  144. Richard Wagner October 13, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    Personally, I’d be looking for another daycare. How dare they tell you how to transport your child! A bike helmet is probably a good idea. But “reporting”? That’s *never* a good idea. Tell those parents to butt out – and do find another daycare that you don’t feel in danger of being reported to DCF with.