The Bicycle Pedestrian Commission (BPC) pushed for changes to Cupertino’s code relating to cycling on sidewalks. Thanks to the forward looking City Council the revised ordinance passed and the new law is now in effect. What has changed? The previous law stated that only children under the age of 10 were allowed to ride on sidewalks and no one else. This meant that adults riding alongside their kids were in violation of the law. Clearly that is not what we want as a community. The new law does is different in two important ways:
- Raises the age for children allowed to ride on sidewalks from 9 to age 12 and under.
- Allows adults to ride together with children age 12 and below on sidewalks. (Adults riding without children themselves are not allowed per current regulations.)
- The critical time to influence people’s interest/desire to ride a bike is up to and while they’re in middle school. Once in high school habits have formed that are difficult to overcome.
- Parental approval is required for middle school and younger children to be allowed to ride bikes to school.
- Gives adults the confidence to allow their kids ride to school
- Gives kids a safer way to ride up to and including their middle school years
- Gives parents the opportunity to legally ride with their kids and instruct them on cycling safety. (It also can increase adults confidence in their own cycling.)
One of the key considerations in the age decision was riding speed and likelihood of interacting negatively with pedestrians. 18 year olds are far too large and fast to be riding on sidewalks.
The absolute keys to kids riding bikes is education and practice. The Safe Routes to School program is a big step in the right direction but this is bottom line a parental responsibility. So the City now has given you the ability ride with your children on the sidewalk legally and provide that guidance.
Well….I guess it’ll help keep kids alive for a couple more years. Better than the previous law.
My main problem with the cutoff is that 12 is still too young. Adults riding bicycles on the street have most likely taken and passed the driving test from the Department of Motor Vehicles. They know the laws related to driving (or biking) on the street. Children, even at the age of 12, by and large do not know these laws. They do not behave like an adult riding a bicycle would (or should) behave. 12 years old is better than 10 years old, but 16 or 18 would be far more sensible. At 18 they are technically an adult and likely will have taken the driving test and therefore know the rules of the road.
A 12 year old would not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle on a city street. They should not be operating a bicycle on a city street either, for their own safety and for the safety of others using the street.