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An open letter to parents of children who use shared pedestrian/bike paths

November 2, 2016

Look, I get it. You’re trying to protect a small person with no traffic sense, and not all cyclists slow down in these shared areas, the way they’re supposed to.

So it’s natural for you to yank your child out of my way and deliver a stern warning, eg “What if that had hit you?”

I’m just saying that there might be a more constructive approach.

First of all, I’m not a “that”. I’m a person. A person who spotted your kid from a distance and gently rang her bell so you’d have time to get them out of the way.

Believe it or not, I have no desire to mow down your child with my bike. I’m pretty confident I speak for all cyclists in this.

My point is that I’m not your enemy, and treating me as such (a) makes me feel awful, and more importantly, (b) gives your child a negative view of cyclists, which doesn’t help anyone.

So how about saying something like this instead: “We need to watch out when we’re using this footpath, because people on bikes use it too, and we need to make room for everyone so that we can all stay safe.”

Thanks.

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