Bike Safety Booklet from McDonalds

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Sep 3 2013 at 7:55am #

Ok, full disclosure – I like McDonalds Iced Coffee. Don’t shoot me.

I stopped in this weekend for an Iced Coffee at the McDonalds on McKnight Road. While I was waiting for it, I noticed a pile of cartoon like booklets on “car and bike safety” or something like that. It was produced by McDonalds.

It was your very basic “wear your seatbelt” “wear a helmet” sort of thing for the most part. Then they offered a “quiz” on safe behavior in the form of a “find the mistakes” cartoon. There were supposed to be 10 mistakes. I found and agreed with 8 of them. I am not sure how I feel about two of them.

Mistake 1: A child is riding a bike across the street in a marked crosswalk. The scene is sort of smalltown business district, if that matters. The answer sheet says this is “unsafe” because a cyclist (presumably a child) should “always walk yur bike across a crosswalk, as if you were a pedestrian.”

I’ve never heard of this, and frankly don’t agree. Is this what young children are taught? It presumes that the child was riding on the sidewalk, of course. Is this what those of you with children have taught them to do?

Mistake 2: A child is riding in a street, with a car a short distance behind. She is in the proper lane position. Traffic appears to be relatively light. The setting seems to again be the smalltown business district. The answer sheet says this is “unsafe” because you should always ride on the sidewalk.

In my interpretation, the “scene” could be described as a small commercial or business district, which in PA would make it illegal to ride on the sidewalk. Or is it not illegal for children? Again, for those of you with kids, how would you teach them to ride? Sidewalks only? Until what age?

It’s hard to know exactly what age group these booklets were designed for. They contain information on helmet fit (very broad), and that you should use a seatbelt in a car, so could be designed for very young kids. But, the style seems to be geared to the slightly older kid, maybe 8-10 year olds, as there is not a parent in the book, other than those driving the cars in the cartoon.

Just wondering what you all think of the two “mistakes” above.


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Sep 3 2013 at 9:00am #

On one hand, it’s nice to see talk about bike safety in the broader world. On the other hand, it’s annoying to see those two items you mentioned called mistakes. On the other hand, some 8-10 year olds, especially toward the 8 end, who may be petite/slim/timid, and willing to slow way down around peds/driveways, like my daughter, who really are better off on the sidewalk in most circumstances. On the other hand, this feeds misconceptions about what’s safe generally, so while it may be right for some it’s reinforcing a bias away from what’s more safe/appropriate for most, most of the time.

On the other hand, if 8/10 is right maybe that’s better than not putting out anything. On the other hand, what on earth is any manual about car and bike safety doing not talking about (or at least it seems not talking about) how cars are supposed to drive around bicycles? On the other hand, in addition to the breath of the fast food audience, the slight counter correlation between that and cycling (and physical activity generally), it’s really even more valuable to see talk about cycling there than it seemed at first blush, especially for kids who really are getting set up for trouble health wise being inactive, kudos to them for putting out something. On the other hand, misinformation is still misinformation, and further, if it’s toward an audience that may not see much else information wise, and it makes cycling seem less attractive (certainly less efficient) then it’s making things worse.

So, that’s 8 first impressions. Ultimately, I lean toward mention and 8/10 being slight positive though not nearly so much as if riding in the street weren’t painted as a mistake necessarily. I’m sure there’s a hindu g-d or two for a visual, just getting lazy this morning. Thanks for sharing.


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Sep 3 2013 at 9:12am #

Well, if the booklet is aimed at children I can understand them not describing the right way to drive. It would be cool, though, if they printed up a booklet for adults, informing them of how to behave around cyclists. I educated a friend of mine about why it’s right to take the lane on a multi-lane road like Fifth — he was surprised. He’d thought the cyclists doing that were just being assholes. So McDonald’s could help.
I agree youngsters should act like pedestrians, as the booklet advises, until they’re old enough to ride on their own and learn to ride like adult cyclists. And that includes dismounting and walking your bike across the street in crosswalks.


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Sep 3 2013 at 9:15am #

You aren’t the only one who had an issue with that booklet:


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Sep 3 2013 at 9:22am #

Disclaimer: I am not a parent and may have uttered phrases (in jest, but still) essentially implying that “It’s okay their parents can make more…” – That being said, what is the internet if not a commons for the purpose of semi-anonymously spouting off ill-informed opinions?

Starting from 2: I wouldn’t want children riding around a major business district on the street or on the sidewalk. If a riding a minor business district, say to go to the ice cream store or pick up Daddy’s cigarettes, I think a cautious approach on the sidewalk makes sense.

This makes Q1 a lot easier as you can leave the child with a blanket statement like “Always walk across the street in crosswalks and look both ways etc, etc”)

Best practices for children and best practices for adults are often quite different.


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Sep 3 2013 at 9:39am #

I think that walking bikes across intersections, if riding on the sidewalk, is legit and very good advice.

The second one has too much grey area depending on local ordinance and specific areas… it’s bad advice to give as a universal…


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Sep 3 2013 at 9:43am #

One thing I just mention, a correlation I’ve seen. Many of the kids I see who ride on sidewalk, then ride across intersections, enter intersections too fast to be coming from the sidewalk, and are definitely putting themselves at risk of getting right hooked.

I think basically there are two safe ways to ride, one sidewalk oriented, basically jogger speed, circumstantially a little quicker but not by much and the second, road oriented and quite a bit faster.

There’s often a gap in there that can can be uncomfortable, especially on higher speed roads and/or stern hills. Deciding the appropriate way to go is not entirely straightforward individually never mind when you consider different ages/ability levels.

Saying sidewalk and walking the bike through intersections is McDonalds doing CYA. Not that kids can’t and don’t get nailed on sidewalks crossing driveways, but the media treatment of that vs. McDonalds told me to ride in the road…

the beast

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Sep 3 2013 at 2:22pm #

Ive been going to a bike safety program with my kids the last few years and they always preach dismounting to cross streets, not riding in the streets, etc…
Since they have been riding on the streets and safely through intersections since about the age of 6, I tell them that these are good guidelines for inexperienced riders whose parents are not following closely behind them and infront of them to alert them of obstacles, dangers, etc….


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Sep 3 2013 at 3:28pm #

I suppose these are baby steps. Better they get any good information than no information, which is what they have been getting.

But yeah, it will be harder later to re-educate them on how to do it properly. I just hope they don’t run down too many grannies on the sidewalk in the meantime.

What’s really needed, of course, is traffic calming, everywhere, so that the “8/80” idea can be implemented. In short, anyone from age 8 to age 80 should equally be able as any healthy adult to use the street without fear of getting injured or killed.

It’s much the same idea as I’ve often worded as the Popsicle Index, to wit, How comfortable are you as a parent with allowing your kid to go to the store to buy a popsicle, solo? It’s entirely subjective, of course, but objective methods like 8/80 help increase that index.


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Sep 3 2013 at 7:54pm #

When I was 8 or 10 I’m not sure I’d ever seen a sidewalk in my life. Certainly there were none near my house, or even much of a shoulder for that matter, just good old SR136 and its (45? 55?) mph limit. It’s not that uncommon. So… what’s the message there?

I guess I should ask my mom when I was allowed to ride on the road, I’m not really sure. I’d guess around that age.


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Sep 3 2013 at 8:11pm #

I just came across this yesterday, seems appropos:


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Sep 6 2013 at 2:33pm #

I strongly agree that people should be taught to not ride through crosswalks. Car drivers are not accustomed to looking in a crosswalk for something moving at that speed, and people who like to ride on the sidewalk are often not looking for cars at all. It’s really dangerous.

I used to drive near the Hot Metal bridge a lot and on weekends I would see cyclists darting through that crosswalk all the time. It’s terrifying to me because I can’t always see them coming. I have my own stress to deal with there trying to deal with turning cars and getting through the light before it changes – it’s a relatively busy intersection for how small it is.

You should either be a vehicle or a pedestrian, and crosswalks are designed for pedestrians. As a car driver, I have habits for how to deal with vehicles and habits for how to deal with pedestrians. I don’t have good instincts for how to deal with something in between.


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Sep 6 2013 at 4:24pm #

Teaching kids to ride on sidewalks sets them up for tragedies like the girl who got killed in Sewickley last month.


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Sep 6 2013 at 5:10pm #

Trying to think back to my childhood, I don’t think I ever had any instruction… common sense told me to stay off the main roads or keep to the shoulder; I rode on sidewalks, yards, roads, you name it.

I did realize one interesting point, which is at the age of fourteen I took my first ten mile solo ride to the next town over… considering that, I don’t know how I ever stopped riding bikes for a good decade (basically, once I had a license to drive). At that point in my life, the Ghost Town Trail into my town was still an active track. I always dreamed of riding my bike down it just to see where it goes. :)


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Sep 6 2013 at 5:12pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote:Teaching kids to ride on sidewalks sets them up for tragedies like the girl who got killed in Sewickley last month.

Not if you follow the book to the letter and always cross intersections as a pedestrian.

But yeah, there is a Pandora’s Box feel to that…


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Sep 6 2013 at 7:08pm #

It really makes you wonder how human beings rose to being the dominant species on the planet without instructional booklets.


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Sep 6 2013 at 7:29pm #

It really makes you wonder how human beings rose to being the dominant species on the planet without instructional booklets.

Well, they did, once they figured out the concept. This is why we’ve ended up with stuff like the Bible, Quran, etc. (I’m not going to say anything more…)


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Sep 7 2013 at 8:44am #

The booklet actually prepares children for low paying jobs, where they’ll only be able to afford to ride a bicycle and then aligns with their adult budget:

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