Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting children on bikes

Paul Skilbeck's latest column is another heavy dose of pro-bike, anti-car nonsense and misinformation. But the most shocking material is about the push to get the city's children to ride bikes to school, even though the anti-car lobbying groups---the Bicycle Coalition and Walk SF---keep telling us how dangerous city streets are for cyclists and pedestrians.

If our streets are so dangerous---"safety" concerns are used by the city to justify its many pro-bike, anti-car projects---why are they encouraging parents to put their children on bikes? The answer: Because they are fanatics for whom everyone and everything is an accessory to their agenda, even their children.

Turns out this is Bike to School Week, another taxpayer funded anti-car propaganda campaign. Skilbeck quotes the MTA's Ed Reiskin---a bike guy himself---from a press release:

“Bike to School Week illustrates the significant growth and interest in bicycle mode share the City is experiencing overall,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “The SFMTA is committed to making biking and walking to school a preferred commute option for families and students through innovative engineering, safety, education and encouragement initiatives. We encourage San Francisco’s communities, schools and families to consider bicycling as a fun, everyday commute option and to continue participating in bicycle education and safety efforts.”

Bike to School Week is part of the Safe Routes to School program: "Bike to School Week is coordinated by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, a member of the Safe Routes to School Partnership." Walk SF is of course also part of the partnership.

The Safe Routes to School program has "educational materials" that teachers can use in the classroom to propagandize kindergartners and first grade children---five and six-year-olds---in the pro-bike, anti-car perspective.

Some samples of the material for first graders:

This 30 minute lesson will introduce Safe Routes to Schools and discuss how different modes of transportation are powered. Using People Power will expose students to the idea that burning gas and oil to power vehicles causes pollutants to be put into the air while modes that do not use gas or oil are clean, green alternatives.

The Environment is a big word for the things around you. Expand on the idea of smoke and pollution from the discussion and discuss how smoke from vehicles and other sources can hurt humans, plants and animals in their Environment (around them).

Expand the concept of gas-powered motors, explaining that when you burn gas to make a motor run and the vehicle move, (as in the case of the car) it leaves smoke behind in the air. Discuss the potential impact this has on the air around the school and in the neighborhood. Ask students if they have seen this exhaust coming out of the tailpipes of cars or buses.

This gets the kids ready for the moral of the lesson. Guess which transportation "mode" is the best?

This lesson is focused on “gas-powered” vehicles; however there are (people powered) bicycles built to carry more than one person and many families bike together to school or other places using them.

Regardless of the merits of redesigning city streets on behalf of a small minority of cyclists, encouraging children to ride bikes is grossly irresponsible.

I've blogged about this negligence and the danger to children before here, here, and here.

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