Spending time with my family is a big part of my life. I love my kids and try to do extra little things with them whenever I can. It was such a nice night recently three of my kids decided to come with me on a bike ride. That too turned into a teaching moment.
We decided to stay is the quiet residential area to which we live. There are quite a few streets with hills and nice things to look at as we travelled through the neighbourhood. It was perfect for my kids and me to wind down after a busy weekend. Or, that’s what we thought.
As we were riding through the area we would often check behind us for vehicles approaching. We kept toward the curb most times to ensure there would be space for passing drivers. Even though we were doing that regularly a number of drivers decided to speed past us in a closer than comfortable position. When I say speed past us, I do mean speed past us. In a quiet neighbourhood, that wasn’t necessary, especially with young kids on their bikes and another on a skateboard.
I do understand that the speed limit is set at the same speed in many residential areas just as it is on major roads – 50 km/h, but since there will be more pedestrian traffic and cyclists, why drive that fast? In school zones, the speed limit is reduced to 40 km/h in Ontario and 30 km/h in other provinces. I know school is currently out for the summer, but those same kids who walk to school in that neighbourhood are now outside enjoying their times on their bikes. With this in mind, why drive so fast?
A couple other times drivers flew around the corner without stopping at the stop sign. They weren’t even close. Let me clarify – they weren’t close to stopping, but were close to my 3 kids and me. I know many drivers tend to do a “slow and go” when approaching a stop sign, but in reality, they still need to look out for pedestrians and cyclists. And even if they did roll through the stop, at least slow down and go wider around the cyclists.
The only thing positive about these moments was the opportunity to teach my kids about road safety. I explained that stop signs don’t stop vehicles. Drivers stop vehicles. If the driver didn’t want to stop, they won’t. They realized that staying close to the curb and riding in single file will help keep them safe. They realized that checking from behind regularly lets them know when vehicles are approaching. They learned that if the rider at the back of the pack yelled “car”, it helps all the other riders ahead of them stay in line. That doesn’t just work while playing road hockey by the way.
Another thing they learned this day was to ensure it was safe before entering intersections. They learned to trust themselves and not to trust drivers. They learned the stop sign was also meant for them and not just for drivers of vehicles. Now if only I could teach those drivers who passed us a few things too.