Why are drivers and pedestrians more aggressive to Children?

My 12 year old son cycles to school every day, normally I am with him but I've noticed that when he drops back a bit and people do not realise we are together they are often verbally aggressive towards him.

 

Today he cycled home on his own and 3 people swore at him during his 30 min ride! Now you might be thinking did he do something to deserve this?

Everyone thinks their child is an angel so I can appreciate cynicism but I am constantly told by strangers, teachers and playworkers that he is well mannered and a credit to me. He is not however confident on his bike and is easily intimidated by cars and at least two of the incidents involved him wobbling when vehicles came close to him. The third was a Van driver swearing at him for nearly scratching his van as he over took my son on a narrow part of Pitfield St N1 (one of Hackney's busiest commuter routes!).

 

Are there any parents out there with similar experiences?

Replies

  • By phufbl at 9:45am 25 February 2014

I have no similar experiences, but I am shocked and disappointed.

  • By Michelo at 11:33pm 25 February 2014

Glad to hear that. What area do you cycle in? Perhaps we could learn something from your area in terms of layout or is it just really quiet?

  • By phufbl at 10:33am 26 February 2014

I have a 20-30 minute commute between Wandsworth and Kensington&Chelsea but also regularly cycle into and through central London.

I have had experiences of bad language, bad driving and intimidation before, but not on a regular basis. Really what I meant was that I have no experience of cycling with children or observing poor behaviour towards children on bikes.

LLC should use it's considerable influence to pressure the Mayor, London Assembly, and the Met Police into using retrospective CCTV to prosecute instance of dangerous and aggresive driving (and cycling). This is the ONLY way to control the minority of people who for some reason or another become psychopaths when they are behind the wheel (or handlebars). 

IMO this is a much bigger issue that the "killer trucks" campaign which is the current focus. In my experience, professional HGV drivers are generally well trained and careful on the roads.

I am saddenned to hear about your son's experiences. I commute to work by bike but would not like the idea of my 12 year old son doing the same unfortunately. 

  • By Michelo at 12:08pm 27 February 2014

Thanks for your posts tomo and phufbl it makes me sad and angry BUT I'm hoping the central london grid scheme will include his current route in the meantime I will cycle with him and I've told him to use the pavement (considerately) if he has to travel without me

This is indeed shocking and very sad-unfortunately in this country it seems many drivers think that the road is unsafe for children, that they should be discouraged from using it and that any that do are somehow 'unsafe' or 'crazy' for doing so.I live in Tower Hamlets and despite years of Bikeability training (encouraging them to use the road in a safe way) only 0.5 % of children currently ride regularly to and from school.....most are using scooters on the pavement.

I fear that the only way that this can change is when there is dedicated, consistent, appropriate cycling infrastructure such as segregated cycle lanes such as in Holland....With this children and adults of all ages,abilities etc can feel 'seperated' from idiots like the van driver in your example.This is what happens in Holland (where 60 to 70 % of journeys are made by bike ....by young and old alike).

That is why we all need to continue the pressure on TFL etc to really commit to the desperately needed modern cycling infrastructure that can be found on the continent

  • By Michelo at 4:51pm 28 February 2014

Amen to that! I think you are spot on there Joe, despite my son where a really naff (as in un-cool) looking high vis vest and his helmet I think drivers assume that only "yobs" ride a bike at that age and so they're fair game for abuse. My son however is very sensitive the first few times it happened he was literally in tears. He seems to be getting thicked skinned though as this time he was less emotional and more indignant and quite right too. You're right about bikeability we have that in Islington my sons done all 3 levels (therefore more than most adults on the road!) yet our cycling to school figures are similar despite the fact that more adults cycle to work than drive to work. I think the Central London Grid has ignored schools when the routes were drawn up and that this was a big failure. If we can't get the school run done by bike than what can we change? Surely we're just tinkering around the edges?

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