Special gravel coverage

Neglect charges for Tennessee mom after 10-year old rides to school – Updated

Posted by on September 1st, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Kids… Let ’em ride!
(Photo © J. Maus)

On Monday, the Bike Walk Tennessee blog reported about an absurd incident that highlights the deep, cultural barriers to active transportation we face in America.

Last Thursday, Teresa Tryon, a mother of three from Elizabethton, Tennessee got a knock on her door from a local police officer. The officer had seen Tryon’s 10-year old daughter riding her bike to school and considered the activity so unsafe that he took it upon himself to stop the young girl, put her in his patrol car, and take her home. Once there, he explained to Ms. Tryon that she shouldn’t allow the girl to ride unsupervised.

Ms. Tryon now faces an investigation by Child Protective Services into “child neglect” charges for the simple act of allowing her 10-year old daughter to bike to school.

Robert Ping at the OR Bike Summit-3.jpg

Robert Ping
(Photo © J. Maus)

For more on this story, I contacted child biking expert Robert Ping. Ping has been involved with Safe Routes to School for decades — from the mean streets of Oakland, California where he weaved through gang territories to find safe places for kids to ride, to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance where he headed up bicycle education programs. Today, Ping is the director of the State Network Project for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

According to Ping, who has become a spokesperson for this case, the Tryon’s are an experienced bicycling family. The daughter in question has been a cyclist since she was three year old, she has completed a bike safety course, she always wears a helmet, the family rides together frequently, and Ms. Tryon also rode the route to school with her to make sure it was safe.

“We live in a society where many people feel that children should be locked up in their parents’ care at every single moment to avoid any and all risk.”
— Robert Ping, State Network Project Director for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership

When I hear about cases like this, it seems like I must be missing something. Surely there’s more to the story, I think. How could this even happen?!

I asked Ping if the case is legit. “This is indeed a real situation,” he said, and he added that unfortunately, he’s not even surprised it happened.

According to Ping, as Safe Routes to School efforts increase in the US, people who have not seen walking and biking in their communities for decades (including school principals, school board members and police officers) sometimes react by, “establishing a policy or threatening parents, assuming that new walkers and bicyclists equals new victims.”

Liability concerns sometimes fuel the reaction, he says. “Often they are also worried about the liability of a potential crash. We live in a society where many people feel that children should be locked up in their parents’ care at every single moment to avoid any and all risk.”

But there’s a tradeoff to this reaction, warns Ping: “Children lose their quality of life through a lack of independence, they have no ability to learn through experience or how to have unstructured fun, and they often don’t know their own neighborhoods and don’t get to be free range kids anymore!”

And Ping hasn’t even mentioned the real risk: a lack of physical activity. “Inactivity is becoming one of the most life threatening aspects of kids’ lives,” says Ping. Abduction (a commonly cited fear) or car collisions are statistically minute risks when compared with what Ping calls, “the growing childhood obesity epidemic.” A third of all kids in the United State are now overweight, and 15 percent are obese.

This case is just starting to garner national attention. I asked Ping if it could impact the safe routes cause:

“I consider these situations an opportunity to catalyze Safe Routes to School in the local community. For example, this morning I met with a group of Tennessee advocates and agency staff along with the mom, as part of our monthly Tennessee Safe Routes to School State Network Project team meeting. We came up with a list of resources and a game plan for bringing together Elizabethton’s elected officials, police, agencies and advocates to hear more about what Safe Routes to School can do to increase safety while also increasing physical activity and giving children the opportunity to be kids and be outside in their neighborhoods.”

If you’re facing a situation like the one in Elizabethton, here’s the list of resources/solutions they discussed at that meeting:

  • provide bicycle and pedestrian safety education for kids,
  • provide training for police on state laws governing walking and bicycling,
  • partner with the local bicycle police squad,
  • apply for state funding for sidewalks and other Safe Routes to School program solutions,
  • improve the traffic flow around the school,
  • give advice from our legal partners about how to ensure due diligence to avoid liability,
  • set up a community Safe Routes to School task force with local decision makers,
  • partner with other programs to involve the whole community in making it easier and safer to walk and bicycle.

Based on the handful of situations like this that have come up across the country in the past few years, Ping feels it’s unlikely it will progress up the chain of command. “In all of those other cases the officer’s supervisor didn’t let it go any further,” he shared, “I hope that the Elizabethton police, DA and Child Protective Services realize that national attention to a legal case against Ms. Tryon isn’t worth the negative media attention and pressure from bicycle advocates, and that they take advantage of our upcoming offer to sit down together and map out a strategy that will allow kids to be outside and be as safe as possible.”

I hope so too.

UPDATE, 7:45 pm: According to the Elizabethton Star, the issue has been resolved. Check their article, Girl can still ride bike to school, police recommend safer route

UPDATE, 9/2 at 9:00 am: Ms. Tryon has contacted me to say the issue is far from resolved and that the Elizabethton police are just trying to reduce attention on the issue. Stay tuned.

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  • Deeeebo September 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    In many areas of the county if you are walking or riding a bike then people think something is “wrong” (ie your car is broken or you’re too poor to have one) and the Tennessee I know is this type of place. People from my grandparent’s generation would literally be gone from morning till dinner as kids and they learned how to be self-sufficient as a result. Sometimes they even learned the hard way with tragedy but I prefer that to a generation of coddled children that are terrified of the real world.

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    • Rol September 2, 2011 at 2:59 am

      The funny part is, something WAS wrong that made her start biking to school: she got kicked off the bus for “misbehavior.”

      Burning questions: What did she do? Must’ve been pretty naughty. And why do they feel compelled to mention it? And, if that hadn’t happened, would they ever have had the idea to bike to school?

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      • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

        I am the mother of this child first of all, she was removed from the bus last spring for 1 week for misbehavior and rode her bike during that week. She found she actually enjoyed riding her bike and asked me if she could ride. After careful consideration of the distance, the terrain, traffic, her ability and responsibility level I agreed I would allow her to ride until it became dark in the mornings and advised her she would not ride in bad weather.

        Before she began her ride, she was taken through the route several times with careful explanations of what she must watch out for. She was put through a cycle safety course and finally was observed riding alone. MIght I (brag a lil) add that she is capable and knowledgeable in fixing minor emergencies on her bike as well.

        Anyhow, yes its a real situation, very saddening one at that. Yes 2 CPS workers came to my home and I am now under investigation by them for child neglect for allowing my 10 year old daughter to ride her bike to school

        There appear to be 4 sides to this story. My side, the Officer’s side, the Chief of Police, and of course somewhere in the middle the truth. The original report is a far cry different then the Chief of Police is stating. And even between a 24 hours period with 2 different media presentations, the Chief’s story changed.

        Video from Aug 30: http://www2.tricities.com/news/2011/aug/30/epd-unsupervised-10-year-old-should-not-ride-bike–ar-127515

        News Article Sept 1:

        here is an example of the inconsistency:
        (WJHL) Bailey says this time the officer stopped the child, put her inside his cruiser, and drove her home

        (Eliz Star) Bailey said the officer then put the girl in his cruiser and took her home so he could talk with her mother. He told Tryon about the two incidents and wished to use the time as a “teaching moment” to discuss bicycle safety and develop a safer, alternative route for the girl to get to school.

        (Official Report) In my opinion this section of the roadway is not a safe place for a child of her age to be riding unsupervised. I escorted the child to her residence at which time spoke with her mother Teresa Tryon. I informed Mrs Tryon that I believed that the child should not be riding her bike to and from school unsupervised at her age.

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        • Pete September 3, 2011 at 11:30 am

          I think your daughter should take the officer for a ride around town and teach him a thing or two. Good luck with your situation, it sounds like hell you’re being put through.

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        • Mike Fish September 4, 2011 at 9:18 am

          Seems like the officer should have given a ticket to the car that had to abruptly at a 3-way stop to avoid hitting her.

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        • wsbob September 4, 2011 at 10:08 am

          “…and I am now under investigation by them for child neglect …” BikeMomTn

          Under investigation, but not charged. According to what she’s said, here on bikeportland and elsewhere, there are no standing charges of child neglect lodged against BikeMomTn.

          BikeMomTn has said that CPS had reviewed her care of her child on a prior unrelated occasion. It’s her having mentioned this to the police officer that brought her child home, and discussed with her the issues arising from her child riding to school on her bike, that required the officer to enter that information into his police report.

          The police chief in the interview with the Elizabethton Star has said that the police officer on patrol saw the little girl riding her bike to school in a way that caused traffic to stop abruptly to avoid colliding with her. The officer says other people in their cars near him and within the area the girl was riding, signaled to him to their concern about the manner in which the girl was riding their bike.

          Haven’t noticed it mentioned, but it seems possible that some of the people having seen this girl riding on her way to school may well have called in or emailed to the school or the PD, what they’ve seen.

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  • Tomas Quinones September 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm


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  • dan September 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m a little bit surprised that the police officer in question didn’t say “Wait a minute…I think it’s ridiculously unsafe for a child to ride their bike from their home to their school…there’s something wrong here.” Guess they’re not so self-reflective over there.

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  • kittens September 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I assume this town is not big on cycling, but I bet this is more an issue of a bad pollice officer. All are not created equal!

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    • q`Tzal September 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Most of the Deep South is not big on cycling; this is of course a generalization but is the conformist’s social norm.
      More specifically this attitude seems to be tied to a materialist sense of success whereby your mode of transit is directly indicative of your worth as a human being. This has no geographic boundaries but seems worse down south.

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  • GlowBoy September 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Far more kids are killed in car-car crashes, from being driven to and from school by their parents, than ever were killed by cars back when kids routinely biked and walked to school (as was the case when I was a kid).

    And MANY more times of today’s kids will be killed by lifestyle diseases resulting from lack of exercise than would ever be killed by letting them bike or walk to school.

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  • e2pii September 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    It seems implied that the bike route was unsafe due to vehicular traffic (although this is not stated explicitly). Too bad the police officer didn’t stop the cars for creating the “unsafe” condition, but is instead, effectively, blaming the person whom he perceives is a victim.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Perfect opportunity of programme publicity for SRTS. (If it were not so sad.)

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    • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 9:45 am

      Definitely working with SRTS and Robert Ping has been an incredible asset regarding SRTS

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  • KJ September 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I rode my bike in the 80’s to and from school, younger than this girl, and I even fell and broke my wrist once! The travesty. how did I ever survive to adulthood?! What were my parents thinking?
    Oh wait.. I still ride my bike everywhere. hmm.

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  • beth h September 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    If I were the mother in this situation, I woudl tell the courts everything they want to hear so I wouldn’t be separate from my child. Once the case was settled I would get my family the hell out of there and into a town where parents can raise “free-range” children. That the mother’s judgment is being called into question is the real criminal act here.

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    • Tacoma September 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Yes, beth h, this is the only sensible strategy for this case but I fear that the only places where “parents can raise ‘free-range’ children” are not in the US.

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  • Joe September 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    bummer total bummer! riding a bike is not a crime
    yes she a child but looks like she knows what shes doing, also would move outta that place.

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  • Duncan September 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    so much for the “less government intrusion” of conservative states…

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  • was carless September 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I was riding my bicycle on oregon state HIGHWAYS when I was 10. 55 – mph speed limits. For miles and miles in the countryside…

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    • Oliver September 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      That was me in the 70’s. I don’t think I’m far off in saying that back then (what I consider) the average rural person would have been appalled to hear one of their peers say, with no small malice, “If someone is stupid enough to ride their bicycle on the road, and they get killed, it serves them right.”

      Motorcycles, yes, but bicycles, no.

      Now, you would never hear anyone say that about someone on a motorcycle but trolling the boards reading the news, it seems this sentiment is everywhere re: bicycles.

      Maybe that’s what is informing this guy’s reasoning. There was that fireman that shot that guy for riding with his kid on the back.

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  • w September 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    What is this “liability” thing they are worried about? Schools should not have to worry about kids till they hit the front doors or are on a school bus. I don’t get it. If a parent wants thier kid to ride a bike to school then they are the one who is responsible for the child till the kid gets to the front door of the school and when the child leaves the school. Is that not right?

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  • Nick V September 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I lived in the deep South for close to ten years. On a scale of oddness for that area, I’d rate this story around a 5 out of 10.

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  • Paulie September 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Bicycling wasn’t considered a dangerous activity when I was a child (in the ’60s). It was something every kid did. And no one wore helmets except racers. There were no bike lanes (I don’t think the concept even existed) or any infrastructure of any kind for cyclists. I rode my bike to school along streets with no shoulders or sidewalks. People in cars gave you room, not hostility.

    I wonder if all the attention on infrastructure isn’t fostering the idea that cycling is dangerous. Now you hear “You bike in he street? Are you insane?!!”

    I didn’t think cycling was dangerous then, and certainly not now. FWIW, the only times I’ve been in collisions with automobiles have been when I was in an automobile.

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  • mabsf September 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    The problem is that the CPS can still get her for neglecting her parental supervision duty… I think you are not allowed to leave your child without supervision until they are 12…

    I am getting paranoid every time I give my son some freedom not because I fear something happens – I fear that somebody reports me. My son was followed home by concerned drivers when he walked the 5 blocks between his friend’s and our house. I wonder if these ‘concerned’ drivers realized that they did exactly what I warned my son about…

    While Safe Routes to School is a wonderful program, we need to have parents at every school, organizing Walk & Bike trains and lobbying in their own community that driving kids to school is not the best solution. At our school (Glencoe) we send out for the first time this year traffic tips, encouraging parents to park a few blocks away from school or to walk/bike straight out…

    Sorry about the rant, but this is really fundamental for me!

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    • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 9:48 am

      mabsf Tennessee has no legal age limit for children to be alone. Actually according to Tenn. Juvenile Court “There is no legal age for children to stay at home alone. Parents are advised to use their best judgment, keeping the child’s maturity level and safety issues in mind.”

      However, this being said – the school has a bike rack. She is in the 5th grade, which is the last grade lvl at this school. So if kids are not safe riding a bike-why is there a bike rack?

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      • 9watts September 2, 2011 at 9:59 am

        I’m glad you’re giving them a run for their money. I like how you think.

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  • 9watts September 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    “considered the activity so unsafe ”

    One wonders what exactly was deemed unsafe, what dangers the unsupervised girl was thought to be exposed to that supervision would have eliminated? Why are officials allowed to get away with hand-waving assertions; without defining their terms?

    These folks in Tennessee should read Ivan Illich.

    “Enforced dependence on auto-mobile machines then denies a community of self-propelled people just those values supposedly procured by improved transportation.

    People move well on their feet. This primitive means of getting around will, on closer analysis, appear quite effective when compared with the lot of people in modern cities or on industrialized farms. It will appear particularly attractive once it has been understood that modern Americans walk, on the average, as many miles as their ancestors–most of them through tunnels, corridors, parking lots, and stores.

    People on their feet are more or less equal. People solely dependent on their feet move on the spur of the moment, at three to four miles per hour, in any direction and to any place from which they are not legally or physically barred. An improvement on this native degree of mobility by new transport technology should be expected to safeguard these values and to add some new ones, such as greater range, time economies, comfort, or more opportunities for the disabled. So far this is not what has happened. Instead, the growth of the transportation industry has everywhere had the reverse effect. From the moment its machines could put more than a certain horsepower behind any one passenger, this industry has reduced equality among men, restricted their mobility to a system of industrially defined routes, and created time scarcity of unprecedented severity. As the speed of their vehicles crosses a threshold, citizens become transportation consumers on the daily loop that brings them back to their home, a circuit which the United States Department of Commerce calls a ‘trip’ as opposed to the ‘travel’ for which Americans leave home equipped with a toothbrush.”

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    • Pete September 3, 2011 at 11:42 am

      Thanks for this comment and link. People are also forced to face each other within shouting/talking distance, mano a mano. I’ve often said the same people who cut lines in their cars wouldn’t have the guts to do it in person at a grocery store.

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  • kathy September 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Yes I recently heard from a friend who has an 11 year old girl that it is illegal for him to leave his child alone. I’m not sure if that’s just an Oregon law – I think it must be? But either way if this were to have happened here in Oregon, the parent could be cited just for the child being unsupervised, regardless of what the child was doing at the time (biking, walking, standing on the sidewalk, etc.) Personally, I think that’s complete overkill based on my childhood experience (raised in the 70’s and 80’s) but the law is the law regardless of how stupid it might be. Just because you think it’s dumb doesn’t make you exempt from law, much as we all wish that to be the case.

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  • woogie September 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    The thing is the mixed message sent by cyclists themselves.

    Always toting out the 40,000 deaths attributed to motor vehicles as reason for more bike infrastructure because it’s dangerous out there on the roads with cars.

    Then when something like this ,or the Urban Biking book, come out, using the same stats to show that of the 40,000 deaths the majority are those in the motor vehicles themselves and other motor vehicle users and less than 2% are attributed to pedestrians and cyclist.

    Or the endless complaints about the police who don’t care about cyclists and now complaints because an officer showed some concern for a cyclists safety.

    It just seems that depending on the situation the same piece of information is used in completely different ways to justify the pro-cycling/cycling infrastructure position.

    Any wonder people are confused about how safe it is to ride a bike on public roadways?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      woogie. you make a good point.

      I agree w/ you about bending arguments to fit whatever the issue is at the time. That’s why I don’t think a “safety” argument is the best framing for bike improvements. You’ll notice I like to mention efficiency and comfort are just as important as safety as reasons for advocating for better bikeways. Another important way I argue for bikeways is to talk about how the quality of the bicycling experience must be somewhat similar to the experience of taking transit or driving if we ever expect to get a lot more people on bikes.

      unfortunately, “safety” has become the #1 mantra due to its soundbyte power and it’s political strength.

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    • Pete September 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

      You mean you get radically different opinions represented within a really large group of people? Shocking!!!

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  • Doug Smart September 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Perhaps someone can help. This situation brings to mind one from a couple of years ago – I haven’t been able to track down any links or references. As I recall, parents in a Canadian city (Toronto?) complained that they couldn’t let their kids bike to school because there was too much traffic. A traffic study revealed a Catch-22 situation where about 40% of that traffic was parents dropping their kids at school.

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    • Natty September 2, 2011 at 5:19 am

      Are you sure that wasn’t a case with a school in England? There was an incident a year or two ago in a London ‘burb with banning children from riding to school {I may have even been the school that took the measures} due to traffic concerns. In the end it turned out the morning procession of parents driving their children to school were the cause of the concerning traffic.

      Though, I’m sure it is a common enough occurrence today, that it quite likely happened in TO as well.

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      • Richard Masoner September 2, 2011 at 10:12 am

        Natty & Doug, it could have been either or both places. I hear about similar situations all of the time on various mailing lists and bike forums.

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  • Jesse Miller September 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Jesus! Are you kidding me? I rode my bike to school during my whole life. I remember riding in the rain, sleet, snow, and wind to get to school. I used to love to get out of the house and ride all over town with my pals. The only thing I can say about this story is she lives in Tennessee. That state is GOD’S country. If the almighty lord does not approve of riding a bike to school, well then you are breaking the law.

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  • jeff September 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I think some of you are missing the point.
    People abduct children. Far too often. I think this may have less to do with riding safety than childhood safety. Most school districts have laws against unaccompanied travel to/from school campus for this reason alone.
    Without knowing the policeman’s reason, most of you are jumping conclusions about her neighborhood environment, crime rates, local ongoing criminal cases, etc. Not every neighborhood is your neighborhood.

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    • 9watts September 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm


      but the cop didn’t say, or work toward, getting all the other kids riding bikes so there would be strength in numbers, did he? No his actions have the effect (or were intended to have the effect) of scaring those few parents who let their children bike into thinking this is dangerous, and I’ll bet you that a street entirely devoid of children on bikes is more dangerous than one which Kiel Johnson may have had anything to do with.

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      • jeff September 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm

        think you may be making up stuff here, 9watts.
        nothing in the story says much of anything about the police officer.

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        • 9watts September 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm

          I realize we are given very little info, but the *effect* of approaching the situation in the manner described is not to increase but decrease bicycle use by children, wouldn’t you agree?
          If you do, then isn’t it fair to note that safety (in whatever register the folks in Tennessee are worried about) is not improved by shifting the balance of travel mode in favor of kids in cars?
          Don’t we have reason to believe that when more people (of any age) bike in a given jurisdiction the safer things become, whether the metric is crashes, or some other statistic? If you are a child snatcher waiting for a kid are you more or less likely to grab one off a bike if there are a bunch of other kids biking as well?
          Personally I think kid-being-snatched-off-bike-on-way-to-school is pretty far fetched a notion. Is that even plausible?

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    • Richard September 1, 2011 at 5:13 pm


      Yes, abduction of children by strangers happens. And when it happens, it is highly publicized, which leads to the perception that such abductions are common. They are not at all common. Children are actually much more likely to be abducted by a noncustodial parent, to be abused by mom’s boyfriend, etc. And how many strangers are going to abduct a kid riding a bike in daylight on a public street?

      Moreover, as the article points out, children are at a much greater immediate and long-term risk from inactivity.

      I walked or rode my bike to school from the early elementary years. More than four decades later, I’m a daily bike commuter. That isn’t a coincidence.

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    • mabsf September 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      I know, Jeff…specially after the case of the little boy who went missing last year here in Portland…
      But most child abductions are actually undertaken by people who know the children. Abduction can happen anywhere – the way to school is not worse or better than any other opportunity.

      It’s a tough choice where you grant your child a little bit of freedom, but you do have to somewhere just as part of growing up. If you constantly cocoon your child in the ‘safe’ enclosure of a car, you will end up with an anxious, obese generation absolutely depended on cars which seems fatal in the light of peak oil and global warming.
      If someone has to choose the freedoms that children should be exposed to, let it be their parents.

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    • jim September 1, 2011 at 9:47 pm

      I read an other article on this. He stopped her because he got complaints from motorist.

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    • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 9:52 am

      jeff this is repeated in the official report the officer submitted. “…In my opinion this section of the roadway is not a safe place for a child of her to be riding unsupervised.”

      Not about abduction, but about safety concerns. Both the officer and the chief specifically mention sidewalks. However in the state of Tennessee it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk via Tennessee Code Annotated 58-8-173 (c): No person shall play on a highway other than upon the sidewalk thereof, within a city or town, or in any part of a highway outside the limits of a city or town, or use thereon roller skates, coasters or any similar vehicle or toy or article on wheels or a runner, except in such areas as may be specially designated for that purpose by local authorities.

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      • wsbob September 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

        “…However in the state of Tennessee it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk via Tennessee Code Annotated 58-8-173 (c) …” BikeMomTn

        Not so. Read more carefully, the statute you cited. It does not prohibit biking on the sidewalk. That statute relates to playing on highways, an activity which the statute prohibits, advising instead, playing on sidewalks. Bikes aren’t even mention in this statute.

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    • C Baker September 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

      No, actually, “people” don’t. The vast majority of missing children cases are custody disputes – Mom has the kids, Dad wants them, Dad takes them.

      Some of them are misunderstandings – Mom thinks the kid is with Grandma, really the kid is with Uncle Jim, Mom calls the police and it’s all resolved a few hours later.

      Some are genuine runaways or “throwaway” children.

      And somewhere under 300 a year in the United States are abductions by strangers. Most of THOSE happen to preteens and teenagers – it peaks at age 15 for girls, I believe.

      Now, sure, 300 a year IS far too often, but your child is more likely to die from: car crash (THE leading cause of death for all Americans), accident in the home, or cancer. Heck, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than to ever know anybody who was abducted by a stranger!

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      • captainkarma September 2, 2011 at 10:43 pm

        I find this remark highly offensive. What year is this, 1970? My ex-wife had my son professionally kidnapped and sent to an central-american tough love school that was so bad, the kids revolted! http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/27/world/us-youths-rebel-at-harsh-school-in-costa-rica-and-many-head-for-home.html She tried to hijack another son to go work on a tofu farm slave labor “program” , but he escaped. And it sure wasn’t wasn’t Kyle Horman’s Dad who abducted him. You need to rethink your stereotypes and prejudices. Ever hear of gender-neutral language?

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        • Pete September 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

          If what you say is true, your comment actually reinforces C Baker’s point, regardless of how insensitively you deem C Baker to have worded it.

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    • Dave Thomson September 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      Child abduction is another media hysteria thing. Statistically not something to worry about.

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  • are September 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    the oregon statute could expose a parent to similar interference from the state:

    ORS 163.545 Child neglect in the second degree.

    (1) A person having custody or control of a child under 10 years of age commits the crime of child neglect in the second degree if, with criminal negligence, the person leaves the child unattended in or at any place for such period of time as may be likely to endanger the health or welfare of such child.

    (2) Child neglect in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

    the tennessee statute
    is actually less strict, in that it seems to require that the child actually be injured as a result of the neglect, though the department of chidren’s services
    does seem to include “risk of harm” in their definition.

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    • mabsf September 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      thanks for the research, are!

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  • S brockway September 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Ripe for the “bike Train” program.

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  • Dude September 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I find it hard to believe people are surprised by this. Have you seen the way most people drive? Of course people are going to be concerned about kids riding or walking.

    To be clear, I’m not implying that a neglect investigation or removing the kid from the road is justified.

    And it does beg the question of whether TN CPS is investigating parents of obese kids…

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  • halfwheeled September 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    It’s Tennessee, nuf said. Having spent some time in Knoxville, it is dangerous riding a bike there not to mention letting a kid ride a bike. Cars are WAY too aggressive about keeping bikes off the street.

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    • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

      My town is 22,000 people and the ride is a residential area on a road wide enough to accommodate 3 cars.

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  • Emre September 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    If I was living in TN, and this happened to me, I’d call the local Tea Party rep and tell them big gubbermint is takin’ my child’s right away (on tax dollars) — FREEDOM IS AT STAKE HERE, Y’ALL!

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  • Christine September 1, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I read this article because a friend postedit on Facebook. I could not believe it was true, and thought it was one if this ha ha jokes. Sadly it is not this is so ridiculous to me! I’m an expat, transported her in 2005 from Europe. I grew up in a country where not only kids ride their bikes to school but adults ride their bikes to work as well. In Amsterdam for instance the amount of people on bikes exceed those in cars on any given day. it would unheard of not letting your kid ride their bike to school and it would be frowned upon using your car as a polluter of the environment. I, as a 4 year old rode my scooter or ‘step’ as it was called for 20 to 30 minutes to kindergarten, with a group of other kids from my neighborhood. I continued to ride a bike all the way through college as all of my friends did. After all you want to fit in so you and your friends ride to school, sometimes in another city a bike ride back and forth in rain or snow for sometimes 45 min depending on the wind and rain. My child rode her bike to school like I did and I’m sure her little boy will do the same once he’s old enough. Holland is not the only bike country where children do not get abducted during their bike rides. Danmark, Germany, Belgium are all countries where children ride unsupervised their bikes, and horror, even without the here mandatory helmet. What is so different between the USA and these countries where children have biked for centuries and will do so for ages to come?

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    • Emre September 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      It’s true, I grew up in Berlin, started riding my bike after kindergarden and rode it until high school (then had to move to car-obsessed Dallas, Texas). Most major European cities have pretty good bike infrastructure, and roads/space is already limited for motorists, forcing them to be more careful and slow down. Cars are also usually smaller and less powerful, so traffic accelerations are less spontaneous. That makes it a much safer riding experience.

      Also, in Germany you have to spend up to $5000 on a driver’s license so it’s kind of a big deal to operate a motor vehicle. You’re required to take rigorous driving classes that span over weeks. You have to learn how to use a manual, how to interact with pedestrians and cyclists in-depth; and in return, you’re allowed to drive as fast as you want on the Autobahn (as long as you’re following the proper rules for passing, merging, etc).

      That’s not really the case in the US. Anyone can get a driver’s license in about an HOUR, if you’re lucky, and show up at the DMV early enough. There are a lot of incompetent drivers on US roads for that reason — but that’s okay, because there are A LOT of roads and they’re nice and wide and paved. In European cities, you really need driving skill to survive traffic.

      Rules for cyclists are also much more strict in Germany, or at least there’s much more law & order/regulation when it comes to bikes. For one, you’re required to have brakes and lights or your bike can be impounded. You’re also required to take a cycling course early on, usually in elementary school. My elementary school actually had a ‘mock’ mini-city built next door, just for cycling and traffic education. You can even see it from Google Maps’ aerial view:


      THIS is where I learned how to properly ride a bike in traffic, and I was 7 years old. So my point is, it’s not that fair to compare the quality of cycling in Europe vs. the US because European motorists and cyclists already have so much education and safety mechanisms in place. That’s not to say we should be aiming for that as well, but right now, in places like Tennessee, I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.

      Thank god I live in Portland!

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      • mabsf September 2, 2011 at 10:48 am

        Ah, I remember the “verkehrs garten” from my childhood…

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  • Christine September 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I think i know one difference between the European drivers in the cities and the US ones. All drivers in Holland grew up as bikers. Not one of them did not have to ride his bike until he was 18, the legal age for getting a drivers license. Once 18 it takes at least 30 to 50 drivers practice behind the wheel before they are allowed to request a test. And it’s the instructor who determines if you are ready for a test or need more hours. An hour here being 1:30. Having grown up as a biker you just know where the dangers lie and traffic law is focussed on bike riders which often have their own bike lanes separated from the road by trees, plants or gravel. It’s totally different driving a car from a bike riders prespective than from a car driver perspective. Pity that part of the bike riding traditions disappeared from the US society.

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  • Jrdpdx September 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    “if you’re facing a situation like this”…..move! That’s what I did. I lived 10 miles down the road from this town when I was in college. It’s beautiful for biking hiking white water blue grass music moonshine and clean air. But, 90% back ass snake handling homophobic hayseeds. Any thinking adult would move to Asheville or cross the Mississippi River.

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  • Tbird September 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm
    • wsbob September 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      A well written story by The Elizabethton Star, detailing among other information relative to this controversy, how the police officer methodically determined that the child on the bike lacked sufficient skills to competently ride to school in traffic on her own without supervision.


      “…While stopped behind a school bus at the three-way stop at the intersection of Cedar Avenue, Watauga Avenue and Southside Road, the officer noticed a girl on a bicycle coming around his cruiser on the left and past the school bus on the left toward oncoming traffic. A car was making a turn from Watauga onto Cedar and had to make an abrupt stop to keep from striking the child. By the time traffic was moving, the girl had already crossed the hill and the officer could not make contact with her. Other motorists were also pointing her out to the officer to make him aware.

      The next day, the officer set up near the intersection of Florence Street and Cedar Avenue …” Elizabethton Star

      Read the rest of the story to find how the question of Child Protective Services potentially being involved in the resolution of this situation came to be.

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      • wsbob September 2, 2011 at 12:06 am

        By the way…according to The Elizabethton Star’s interview and quote with the city’s police chief Matt Bailey:

        “…”He is trying to say let’s talk about a different route,” Bailey said. “At no time, did anyone tell her she could not ride her bike. No one was arrested. No one was given a citation. No one violated an ordinance or law. …” The Elizabethton Star

        Given what appears likely to be a reliable account as disclosed by The Elizabethton Star, the report made by bikeportland’s headline for its story about the incident:

        “Neglect charges for Tennessee mom after 10-year old rides to school – Updated”

        …appears to not be true.

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      • Natty September 2, 2011 at 5:48 am

        Interesting that the whole bit about the school bus did not appear in the incident report the office filed {which has since been posted on-line} when he stopped the little girl. Could the police department be revising their story to justify their behaviour?

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        • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 9:56 am

          If anyone is interested I have the official police report, if you read that then the media presentations you will simple be astounded at the differences.

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          • wsbob September 2, 2011 at 10:56 am

            If anyone is interested I have the official police report, if you read that then the media presentations you will simple be astounded at the differences.
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            I think people reading this weblog and people elsewhere would definitely be interested in looking over any official documentation you have indicating that the Elizabethton Police Dept’s report on the incident was either falsely changed in a significant way to to counter negative reactions from the public, or whether the police report contradicts what the police chief stated in the Elizabethton Star interview.

            So please post your copy of the official police report. Make your case.

            As things appear to stand at the moment the mother of the 10 yr old child riding her bike in what reads as having been busy traffic, was not officially charged with neglect or any other charge. Are people saying the PD or somebody else even informally ‘charged’, or simply accused the mother of neglecting her child?

            With his story’s headline: “Neglect charges for Tennessee mom after 10-year old rides to school – Updated:”

            …bikeportland’s editor Jonathan Maus, continues to report that the mother was charged with neglect. Such a report doesn’t appear to have any facts to back it up.

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    • Joe Rowe September 2, 2011 at 8:36 am

      This is not “resolved” The cops are saying they would do it again, with pride.

      quote: “We would have been derelict in our duty if this officer had not done what he had done, “

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    • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 9:55 am

      It is not resolved, read the article..do you see a proposed alternative route or any plan of action? I haven’t heard from anyone at the PD

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  • Shannon September 1, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    It seems implied that the bike route was unsafe due to vehicular traffic (although this is not stated explicitly). Too bad the police officer didn’t stop the cars for creating the “unsafe” condition, but is instead, effectively, blaming the person whom he perceives is a victim.
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    The police officer could have just driven her to school if he felt it was so unsafe, then ADVISED the parent that there might be a safer route/solution and ten if it became a problem he’d take action.

    This is a definite problem with “shoot first, ask later” kind of law enforcement we have.

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  • Harvey September 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    So who is responsible when a kid “Idaho-stops” and intersection like his fixxie riding momma or poppa (me) and goes on to make a poor innocent driving mom’s car swerve into a sidewalk of children walking to school?

    Unless their actions could be insured, I would never risk my velodrome bike collection to let them ride. They can ride when they can get insurance. That is my policy, all I got is my velodrome collection and my kid getting fat is better than losing those bikes to some lawsuit. Ain’t nothing not green about walking to school.

    Seriously, I will ride my kids in the bucket of my cargo bike until they are 18. No cars, no bikes, no nothing. Have you seen kids these days? I mean really!

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  • Shane September 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I find it interesting that in the Elizabethton Star article the officers notes the two incidents of the close calls with the girl being:

    “A car was making a turn from Watauga onto Cedar and had to make an abrupt stop to keep from striking the child.”


    “As the girl came over the hill on her bicycle, a car came up from behind. The officer said it had to swerve to keep from coming in contact with the girl on the bike.”

    So, the real danger sounds to me like drivers not looking out. One turning without seeing her and having to stop and another actually coming up from BEHIND her and having to swerve to miss her. Why not stop the MOTORISTS and tell them to “find a safer route”?!

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    • Carlsson September 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Yep. The last quote of the article…

      “All it takes is one second and that child’s life can be changed forever,”

      And it sounds like it could be due to inattention from drivers of cars.

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  • Eileen September 2, 2011 at 1:36 am

    This is so weird, I recently did an informal survey of how far you could walk alone in first grade and many people walked a mile or more alone in first grade. Might I add that crime rates were HIGHER in the 70s and 80s?

    As a mom and teacher I spend a lot of time researching child development and unsupervised time is really important. Kids NEED to go out and explore the world on their own. It goes way beyond exercise. They learn independence and problem-solving, how to interact with the world and unstructured activities are where their imaginations develop. If you would like to see more kids putting down the electronics and playing outside, this blog is a great place to start: http://www.freerangekids.wordpress.com

    It is time for a backlash against the fear-mongering.

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  • Natty September 2, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Ironic how things change. When I was nine years of
    age I had a paper route that was just shy of 9-kms in length – 35 kms on Saturday’s because I had to reload three times to deliver the thicker edition. I both road along a regional, secondary highway, for a little over half a mile during this route.

    In conjunction with landing my first job, my parents gave me a new 5-spd bike (Centurion) for my ninth birthday to make it easier to cover the route (and to pass my old CCM along to my younger brother).

    While the paper route was good for 80 km/week, most of my riding was for fun – fishing, swimming, general exploring. That bike was my independence, my freedom of mobility {mostly within the bounds set by my parents}, and core to many happy childhood memories. The summer I turned ten, I rode my first ‘metric’ century on that bike. By the time I was twelve, I had put over 8,000 kms on that bike … shortly after the 10,000 km mark, the gears inside the speedometer went to pieces: the device having not been designed with the intention it would received such use.

    I rode that bike until I was 15 and it became too small. The bike then passed through younger siblings, nices and nephews, and has now returned to my garage. I plan to rebuild the bike (probably into a ten speed) and give it to my son when he turns nine … though it’ll probably be to old-school and he’ll want a BMX or MTB instead.

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  • Carter September 2, 2011 at 6:56 am

    It can be sliced so many ways, but what I love is that there is so much passion about biking that it is not just ignored. We make these things our concern. For that I salute you my friends.

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  • Hugh Johnson September 2, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I think even here in Oregon, once you get into rural areas you better have “yer big truck” or you’re a weirdo.

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  • k. September 2, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Shouldn’t it be the parents who never cook and feed their kids a constant diet of McDonald’s and Pepsi who get reported to CPS?

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    • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

      Oh speaking of food – oddly enough within a 24 hours period of the bicycle report being directed to cps? I was also turned in for nutritional neglect (allegedly I starve them) and abuse because allegedly my boyfriend slapped her face for not completely a chore. My daughter was like ….whhhaaatttttt…

      Both of those are unsubstantiated but of course will remain on my record. Oddly coincidental that the other 2 reports appeared hours after the bike report – and after advisement from Major Verran if my daughter rode her bicycle until cps made a ruling I could face charges of child neglect.

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      • mabsf September 2, 2011 at 10:52 am

        See, that I am freaked out… suddenly everything you do to your child is under the microscope… Really sorry for what you are going through…

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  • Kristen September 2, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Thanks, BikeMomTn, for posting here. I’m glad to have another perspective besides what the police and media have been putting out there.

    One thing WSBob points out from the Elizabethton article is that your daughter was passing stopped traffic on the left that the officer observed, is this true? It doesn’t seem like a very safe thing to do; granted, I have no knowledge of the route, the area, or how traffic is on her route.

    Is there a link to the official report, or can you email it to JMaus to post as an update here? I’d be interested in reading it, and it sounds like a lot of people here would too.

    From your post, it sounds to me like your daughter has been through more training than most bike-riding adults get. I think that’s great, you’ve done a great job preparing her for independent riding.

    I also agree with the other commentors that it sounds to me like the motorists are the dangerous one (again).

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 2, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Thanks everyone for commenting on this story. I just posted a follow-up with a link to PDF of the police report….


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  • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you to Jonathan Maus for the follow up on this, and I will keep y’all advised!

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  • Davis September 2, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I can promise you that TennBikeMom isn’t telling everything in this case, only showing selected documents. The child neglect investigation goes way beyond this bicycle incident, and involves her leaving CHILDREN alone for long periods of time. Leaving a 10 year old and her younger siblings ALONE for hours at a time is neglect, plain and simple. Her house is disgusting and never gets cleaned either.

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    • wsbob September 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      “…The child neglect investigation…” Davis

      A child neglect investigation by a child protection agency in Tennessee may be getting closer to the truth. Not charges…but an investigation to determine whether or not instances of neglect have occurred in this family on the part of the mom.

      Has she actually been charged with neglect? No positive determination of that to date, at least not in articles I’ve read about the incident, which are here at bikeportland, the Elizabethton Star interview-article and the bikewalk tennesse article via link at the top of this story.

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    • BikeMomTn September 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      Do you know me to say what my house

      I can promise you that TennBikeMom isn’t telling everything in this case, only showing selected documents. The child neglect investigation goes way beyond this bicycle incident, and involves her leaving CHILDREN alone for long periods of time. Leaving a 10 year old and her younger siblings ALONE for hours at a time is neglect, plain and simple. Her house is disgusting and never gets cleaned either.
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      Do you know me to know what my house looks like? I submitted the police report of my own will – that is how and why the cps report got started. Please don’t stereotype or assume things you cannot know.

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  • Chandra September 2, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Well, I have known CPS in some states that won’t do a damn to help a morbidly obese 10 year old who weighed close to 240 LBS, in spite of her doctor calling the child abuse & neglect hotline. Making a girl ride her bike to school, after properly training her, though, is terrible?

    Go figure!

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  • Emre September 2, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Davis, that comment was completely irrelevant and unwarranted. I’m all about discussion and debate, but this thread is about cycling, not parenting or home improvement/maintenance (or at least I’d like to think of it that way). The mother obviously cares enough about her child to address the allegedly bad behavior at school. Y’all need to be more positive.

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  • BikeMomTn September 3, 2011 at 11:15 am

    What I find funniest about the comment Davis made? I wont leave the kids alone in the house to take the trash out much less “hours” at a time!

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  • Christiana September 3, 2011 at 11:28 am

    By doing this, we are establishing a culture when already dependent children grow into completely dependent adults because they don’t experience anything where they learn the cause and effect of everything because society is making us a bunch of “helicopter parents” regardless of how we feel about this.

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  • Susan September 4, 2011 at 6:10 am

    We live in Sydney Australia and my SEVEN year old son rides to school sometimes by himself. Granted it is only 1/4 of a mile, and he does it on the sidewalk. He has done it numerous times with me in preparation. He goes past lots of houses of people we know well, and there are lots of other children and parents walking to school at the same time on the same street. We are originally from America and I am sad to read this story. What a horrible state of affairs that kids riding bikes to school in seen as neglectful!

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  • R43 September 4, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Jonathan, this blog post seems very one-sided. I know you are an advocate more than a journalist and I appreciate Ping’s comments, but did you attempt to call the police or parents to get information beyond the third hand accounts of a person who has a clear safe-routes agenda and is looking for any propaganda to support his cause and career?

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  • Dan O September 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Car culture insanity. Deserves national attention roasted on a spit until well done.

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  • BikeMomTn September 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks, BikeMomTn, for posting here. I’m glad to have another perspective besides what the police and media have been putting out there.
    One thing WSBob points out from the Elizabethton article is that your daughter was passing stopped traffic on the left that the officer observed, is this true? It doesn’t seem like a very safe thing to do; granted, I have no knowledge of the route, the area, or how traffic is on her route.
    Is there a link to the official report, or can you email it to JMaus to post as an update here? I’d be interested in reading it, and it sounds like a lot of people here would too.
    From your post, it sounds to me like your daughter has been through more training than most bike-riding adults get. I think that’s great, you’ve done a great job preparing her for independent riding.
    I also agree with the other commentors that it sounds to me like the motorists are the dangerous one (again).
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    Yes he has the report posted here:http://bikeportland.org/2011/09/02/read-police-report-hear-more-from-mom-in-tennessee-child-biking-case-58504

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    • wsbob September 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm

      “… One thing WSBob points out from the Elizabethton article is that your daughter was passing stopped traffic on the left that the officer observed, is this true? …” Kristen

      It seems the police chief, in the Elizabethton Star interview, mentions the officer on scene noting his car and a school bus being passed on their left side by the little girl on a bike.

      People have questioned that the school bus isn’t mentioned in the police report, of which a copy has been made available to this website via link above.

      Since the girls route is back and forth from school before and after the school day, it’s not at all unlikely there would have been a school bus on the road she traveled, somewhere around the same time she was riding to and from school.

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  • BikeMomTn September 5, 2011 at 9:02 am

    What the police chief has stated and what the actual police report have noted is 2 completely different situations.

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    • wsbob September 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

      The police report and the police chief’s remarks in the Elizabethton Star interview relate to the same situation: the route your daughter is using to ride her bike to and from school.

      The police report for the dates 8/25 and 8/26, by ‘Investigator Willard Johnson’ and ‘Sargeant Joy Markland’ isn’t very thorough. The chief’s statements in the Elizabethton Star suggest that perhaps partly in response to inquiries about the incident from yourself and other members of the public, he’s interviewed Johnson and Markland for more specific details about the road and traffic situation in which they observed your daughter on the route she takes to and from school.

      With the possible exception of a ‘Major Verran’, that’s mentioned in the Bike Walk Tennessee article


      …in which it’s reported you said you talked to Major Verran on the phone, and was told by this person that laws relating to child neglect would be broken if you allowed your child to ride to school …..nobody appears to have accused you of child neglect, charged you or threatened to arrest you for anything on that order. The police chief’s comments in the Star contradict the remarks you report this Major Verran person having said to you. Bailey, is the chief…not this Major Verran. It’s Bailey’s words that stand.

      (by the way: the only page avialiable in the pdf says “page 2 of 2. What’s happened to page 1, and does anything on it relate to this incident?)

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  • BikeMomTn September 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Page 1 is a cover paper that states it was an escort, the officers name and the reason for the escort (child neglect).

    And an update..CPS has verbally told me that they have no problem with her riding to school. However, Chief Bailey’s lovely conflicting reports have caused a great deal of harassment for my family and I at this point. Comments such as “the child stated “the cars scare her sometimes” (a comment she never made)

    She continually begs me to rider her bike (and I have allowed her) however the harassment is annoying as can be. Seems even going to the store II am badgered by individuals assaulting my choice with everything from threats to opinions. I have to wonder how many more CPS visits I will have to go through that aren’t true from people trying to stick their nose in where it doesn’t belong.

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    • wsbob September 6, 2011 at 10:13 am

      I’ve noticed in some of your earlier comments, your mention that CPS has said it’s fine for your child to ride to school. Since your child’s route is only a mile long…as you’ve also noted in earlier comments: 7-9 minutes travel time to ride…is CPS willing to actually take some time to travel the route with you to see specifically what the officers from the police report are referring to in terms of the part of the route they consider not to be safe for a 10 yr old child to be riding unsupervised, and help to come up with a resolution? Since CPS seems to be coming out occasionally, asking for help on that might be worth a try.

      Police report refers to 3 tenths of a mile of the route that does not have sidewalks. That small distance of the route is probably the only hitch in her continuing to ride the route she’s been riding. The Tennessee statute excerpt you’ve posted elsewhere in comments doesn’t prohibit people from riding bikes on the sidewalk, so she can ride on the sidewalk where it exists along the route.

      Seems possible there’s other options to allow your daughter to continue riding to school. You’ve mentioned ‘Safe Routes to Schools’, though that’s not a short term option.

      Given that trip time to the school is only 7-9 minutes, it stands to reason that a couple adults on bikes could possibly escort your daughter and some other kids to and from school. That’s the beauty of the Bike Train concept that some people in Portland have devised. In my own neighborhood, I regularly see parents waiting with their kids at the bus stop for the bus to come pick up their kids, and waiting at the bus stop for them to return their kids to home. Not much more time involved in actually riding to and from the school on bikes.


      If you had the time yourself…I imagine you don’t or you’d have been doing it already…you on a bike could escort your daughter on her bike to school.

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    • wsbob September 7, 2011 at 9:52 am

      “Page 1 is a cover paper that states it was an escort, the officers name and the reason for the escort (child neglect). …” BikeMomTn

      Thanks for details on page one of the police report. That last bit of the above excerpt: “…and the reason for the escort (child neglect). …”. It’s probably important to send the pdf of pg. 1 with whatever it says to that effect, to Jonathan Maus, the editor of this blog, so it can be taken a look at the same as pg. 2 has been, by everyone in the public forum that you’ve given an opportunity to follow your story.

      Sorry about the unwanted attention over the controversy that’s risen over this incident, that you’re getting in your neighborhood. That’s probably inevitable when such a controversial issue has been presented as directly as this one has. You seem though, to be a capable and articulate person that’s up to the challenge of working to resolve the issues that have come out of this incident.

      Here’s hoping you’re able to do so, and that your daughter will be riding to school again soon! Hang in there!!

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  • resopmok September 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I know I’m a little late to the party here but really..? I thought there was still some glimmer of sanity left in this country but sadly it would seem I’m mistaken. I wished every day when I was growing up that I lived close enough to school to ride my bike, but sadly I was forced to take the bus until my junior year when I attained my own car, which I got rid of 4 years later in favor of none at all. There is another root of problem which constantly gets ignored as well, the question of what is it that makes roads unsafe? Yes concrete is hard, that’s why I wear a helmet in case I should fall on my head onto it. But let’s be serious, people are referencing cars when they make statements about how safe roads are, but it’s not the car that is inherently unsafe… it’s the operator behind the wheel.

    If an officer of the law is so concerned that streets are too unsafe for a child to ride their bike to school, maybe they should take it upon themselves to enforce our existing laws and actually cite dangerous drivers for exhibiting dangerous behavior. No please, finish your donut.

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  • BikeMomTn September 7, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I have a special needs son whose bus comes at about 7:40 am and she needs to leave by then, and he arrives home an hour earlier then she does. So I cannot travel with her.

    The CPS workers have already been out so I don’t foresee another visit unless someone else calls in a complain (which would not surprise me). The worker was familiar with the route itself and had no problem with it at all.

    My overall goal is a get a SRTS program so that a bike train or walking school bus can be developed. However, like many things it takes 1 brave person to challenge status quo before change occurs.

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    • wsbob September 8, 2011 at 12:00 am

      You’re on the right track. I figured you had schedule conflicts or you’d already have been riding to school with your daughter.

      Not that I’m saying I’m particularly familiar with either SRTS or the biketrain, but I don’t believe one is a condition of the other. In other words, a biketrain can be run without the route people in it travel, necessarily being designated an official SRTS.

      If there happens to be other school age kids in the neighborhood, perhaps it’s possible for some of their parents to volunteer to head up a bike train. If you aren’t already, you could contribute your own community effort in some other way, other time as your schedule allows.

      It would be nice if the CPS worker that considered your daughters route to school and said it was o.k., could have a word with the PD on this issue; according to the police report…maybe they will have by now. The worker would most likely have to defer to the PD’s opinion about the safety of the route, but at least the additional encouragement from another agency towards making the route be safe for a 10yr old kid to ride to school, might help speed the SRTS option along.

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  • BikeMomTn September 8, 2011 at 6:41 am

    I spoke with the school principal today, who advised me that every year he has 3 or 4 kids who ride to school. However, this is the first time there has been an issue. However he also noted this is also the first time a girl has ridden to school. Interesting side note.

    For those who want to go back to the beginning this was the start of my journey.


    wsbob I do contribute to my community as much as I can. I am working with SRTS and bike Walk tennessee to enhance education to students, parents and law enforcement to introduce ideas like walking school buses to the community as a whole.

    As for the PD and CPS, in that no laws have been violated the PD cannot enforce a judgement. They can and have requested CPS involvement, however CPS deemed no endangerment. I mean realistically , this is a civil liberty we are discussing and for the PD to attempt to violate that would be catastrophic at best.

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    • wsbob September 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

      “I spoke with the school principal today, who advised me that every year he has 3 or 4 kids who ride to school. However, this is the first time there has been an issue. However he also noted this is also the first time a girl has ridden to school. …” BikeMomTn

      3 or 4 kids out of that entire school ride bikes to school? I would have thought 300-400 kids go to the school, but it’s just a wild guess. Also had the impression this was an urban residential rather than a country neighborhood; population density fairly high.

      The school district probably has them already that it might make available to the public, but from the U.S. Census website, it may be possible to find stats for example, for the number of students living within a given time/distance radius of the school. That data could help in getting an idea of how many kids might be able to participate in a bike train.

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  • Anthony Rizzo January 14, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Rampant suburban sprawl, miles of city and town roads with no side walks let alone bike lanes, city speed limits of 35 mph, All spell out car culture, car culture, car culture. The south is unfortunately very big on car culture but it is not by itself in this problem. Every part of the United States was designed to connect to each other by car. The bike is an afterthought. Bicycling is not treated as a form of transportation. It is treated as a form of recreation. More lobbying needs to be done by the public. If you ride a bike you should join an active bicycle group to increase exposure and you should frequently write to your local law makers.

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