View Full Version : How old to ride bike alone around the block?

09-21-2008, 11:38 AM
DH and I are discussing this issue. He feels our 9 yo should be able to ride aorund the block alone, while I think she needs a buddy.

9 just seems to young. Of Course the 9 yo is dying to do it... she wants to ride to the store and buy an apple. lol

I do tend to be over protective, but I dont think at 9....

We do let her ride her bike alone to school, but I am following her in the car for the most part.... UGH I want to hold on forever!


09-21-2008, 01:08 PM
Well I'm with you, of course our DD11 can only go to her friends on the corner with her cell phone in her pocket :rotfl: . We just started to let her ride her bike around the block by herself this year but she has her cell phone on her at all times, and I usually find something that needs to be done out front just so I can see how often she comes around. If she's with a buddy I feel so much better. I just think any child left alone is a bad thing waiting to happen, although it probably never will who want's to take the risk.;)

09-21-2008, 01:17 PM
I think a lot depends on the type of neighborhood you live in. I have let my now DD7 ride around our "block" since she was 6. She often rides with friends, but I have no issues with her going alone. However, there is a park nearby that I will not allow her to go to unless a grown-up is with her, even though it's no further than a complete ride around our neighborhood.

I think we need to give our kids some freedom to navigate in the world, with limitations on that freedom, depending on age and maturity. You know your daughter, and your neighborhood, best. If you decide it's really not safe for her to ride her bike around your block, perhaps there is another "big kid" activity you could allow her to do? But if it's more your fears of her growing up, versus any real threats she is likely to encounter, you might want to find some way to allow it.

09-21-2008, 03:49 PM
I don't know the answer to your question. DD(5) can't ride her bike good enough to go 5 feet by herself!

It's kind of sad because when I was 7 and 8 I rode my bike ALL OVER, sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends. We live in the same area that I grew up in and you never see young kids riding around alone these days.

09-21-2008, 03:51 PM
My DS is 9, and has been riding his bike around the block since last year. However, he does not have to cross any streets. He just rides on the sidewalk in a square...very easy.

09-21-2008, 03:58 PM
My oldest is only 6, so riding around the block alone is a long way off for us.. I don't know the answer. Whenever it feels right, I guess. I agree that it depends on your neighborhood- can is it a big block? Do you know almost everyone on it? etc.

09-21-2008, 03:59 PM
My answer is "no".

Of course, about 5 minutes ago I finished reading on the Comcast news about the case of "Marcia Trimble"....a 9yo. girl who disappeared in 1975 while walking across the street from her house to a neighbor's to deliver a box of Girl Scout cookies. She never made it!! and her body was found a month later. How tragic.

So my 10yo. won't be riding his bike around the block alone for awhile. That case just really hit home with me.

09-21-2008, 05:03 PM
My oldest starting riding around the block around 7 or 8. He will be 10 next month and I just started letting him ride his bike to school some days and one day last week he walked home. It is about 3/4 mile to his school. I tend not to over worry about stuff like that. I like to start giving them freedoms. Yes, on the days he rides his bike, after I take the 6 year old to school I drive by his school to make sure his bike is there. We live in a small town and have always felt pretty safe. Yes, I know things can happen anywhere but I choose not to live in fear.

09-21-2008, 07:08 PM
I don't think there's a right answer to your question.

I know for me, in my neighborhood, my older boy will probably be riding around the block alone by the time he's 9. But my younger boy - ugh - he's a daredevil at age 2, so he might need a shorter leash til he's about 27, lol.

It all depends on you, your kid, your neighbors, your neighborhood.... Nobody wants to keep their kid in a bubble, but at the same time, we want to keep them safe. It's a hard line to walk. I'm sure you'll make the right decision.

09-21-2008, 07:45 PM
If you aren't ready or don't feel right about it, chances are it isn't time. I don't think that there is a set age when a child should be allowed away from adult supervision, situations vary and so do cities. I don't see it as not trusting the child or not allowing the child to mature, I see it as taking all of the factors that you have no control over into account. A child alone is vulnerable. As a parent I never felt pressured to let my daughters do something I wasn't comfortable with, just because "everybodys doing it." They are both adults now with their own children and they are responsible, mature women. All this to say that you can teach and foster responsible, mature behavior without jeopardizing your child's safety.

09-21-2008, 08:00 PM
only you can make the decision. my daughter is 8 and does on occasion ride around the circle alone. im comfortable with it. my neighborhood is a circle, one way in and one way out. i know all 12 people who live on the circle.
of course its more often that she is with her girlfriends. but there is that occasion when she'll call around and no one will answer so she goes off to see if anyone is outside to play with. its been about a year that shes been doing this.

09-21-2008, 08:08 PM
I agree it totally depends on the neighborhood. Where I live I will not let my DD13 ride her bike alone on my road(only because it is windy and isolated) but where my mom lives ( where I grew up) my DS8 has been able to ride around by himself since he was about 5 it is a small town with two ways in and I know almost all the people so I feel safe there.

09-21-2008, 08:27 PM
It depends on what your definition of a "block" is. Since it contains a store, I would think it's on a busier street than just a neighborhood. I let my nine year old walk the dog around our neighborhood alone, but I know that my neighbor has her two boys (age 11 and 13) go together when they ride their bikes to the store because it is on a busier street.

I think you should trust your gut; is there a buddy she could ride with to the store?

09-21-2008, 08:57 PM
We live on a loop - one way in, one way out, you just go around in a big circle.

There are kids as young as 4 & 5 out on their bikes all alone all day every day. I can't believe it - I mean, I know my oldest DD is only 3.5, but theres no way I would ever let her even just outside by herself - I really don't know what these parents are thinking!!

I was outside with my girls and a neighbor and her son one day, and one of these kids came by on her bike wearing only a bikini - no shoes, no helmet, nothing! She fell off her bike and scraped the heck out of her knee. While I ran inside to get a rag and some band-aids, my neighbor asked her the number house she lives at, and she didn't know!!! I cleaned her up, and told her to walk her bike home, and she told me, "NO - I DON'T HAVE TO." I don't know, but at 4-5 years old, I do not think you should be allowed out on your own on a bike, especially if you don't know your house number!

09-22-2008, 07:33 AM
Although my son is going to be 13 in December. It's not that I don't trust him, I do - it's the rest of the wackos in the world that I don't trust.

I made the mistake of allowing him to take a run around the block the other day. Then I thought about it. At any time, someone with a van could just pull over to the side and grab him through the door. Even if he wasn't "hunted," he could still be accidentally hit by a car. He'd be laying there and I'd never know.

Now with a friend and their cell phones, I allow him to go a couple of blocks. He's not going to be running or riding without someone with him ever again.

09-22-2008, 08:22 AM
We started letting my oldest DS ride his bike to school last year - he was in 6th grade and it is only 1 1/2 blocks. Took me a long time to get to that point since I grew up in a small town and now we live near Detroit. When I say "near" I mean in a really nice suburb 20 minutes away BUT still....

I think it really depends on your level of being comfortable. My DS does have a cell phone and when he leaves school in the afternoon, he has to call me to tell me he is on his way home. Those days when he forgets how to use the phone (ok, maybe I just think he does), or has forgotten his phone make me tense. I think my DS was ready a lot sooner than DH or I, but I definitely needed that extra year of reassurance. Do what feels best for you - not worth your having to worry!

09-22-2008, 09:27 AM
it really depends on the child, and the neighborhood. My 7 1/2 yr old is allowed around our block. We live in a small town and everyone on our block knows us and our kids.

09-22-2008, 09:58 AM
I personally don't care what kind of neighborhood it is. I think kids should always have a buddy with them.

Unfortunately, there are way TOO MANY wackos out there who don't really care what kind of neighborhood it is.

As for me, I feel like it only takes a split second for something to happen that could have horrible consequences. In that case there wouldn't be a second chance. I just don't want to risk it.

I do, however, feel kids need to learn independence and gain more freedom as they get older. We don't want to raise them to be scared and timid. But I think there is a way to do that while still insuring their safety.

I also live in Massachusetts...not far from where Molly Bish was abducted and killed while lifeguarding at a local pond. Her poor mother dropped her off for work and never saw her again. Unfortunately, no one else was with her. But she was 16 and you'd think that would be old enough...but it wasn't. Horrifically tragic.

Another local girl in the next town went for a walk and has never been seen again. She was 12.

I'm not taking any chances.

09-22-2008, 10:07 AM
I think 9 is fine to just ride around the block. Ds10 has friends 1, 2, 3, and 4 blocks away, and he's allowed to walk or ride there. If they're riding across town, however, I like a buddy.

09-22-2008, 10:11 AM
It depends on a wide variety of variables:

1. What your neighborhood is like.
2. How busy and bikeable the surrounding streets are (my kids can go pretty far in our cul-de-sac neighborhood - but are limited by crossing busy streets on their bikes).
3. How responsible your kids are - some kids will ride to the store, buy an apple, come back. Some will ride to the store, leave with a friend, and make you convinced they were abducted before showing up three hours later with "What? I was over at Meghan's"
4. How good a biker your kid is - my daughter isn't good enough at nine to go very far without supervision. My son is a much more competent biker.
5. How ready you are to let it happen. Even when you have a good neighborhood, bikeable streets, and a responsible kid - if you aren't ready - as long as you haven't reached the point where you are packing your own suitcase for the dorm room - then you aren't ready.

As for bad people - my high school boyfriend's sister was murdered when she was 24. You can't keep kids under glass forever - eventually you need to take the chance that the bad people are few and far between.

09-22-2008, 11:59 AM
Well, even adult women and some men go off disappearing and are kidapped. If you go by that logic, even I am not old enough to go around the block by myself. If I wait till my son is old enough to fight off an offender he would be 17 years old and even then there is no guarantees.

09-22-2008, 12:07 PM
As everyone has said, you have to do what you think is best.

My oldest is 5.5 years old and I don't see it happening soon. First, he doesn't ride his bike well enough to go down the street by himself. We don't have sidewalks and there are cars that drive too fast. I think that up until the age of 8-9, kids can't really be trusted not to dive into the street without looking. I did it once when I was about 9, actually. My dad almost killed me, but I was young and just didn't think about it. A truck almost hit me, but luckily they saw me and were able to stop.

I will probably be waiting until he's 8-9 before I let him ride his bike down the street alone. Our street is about a mile long. To go anywhere else by himself, he'll have to be around 12, I think, because to go anywhere else he'll have to cross a relatively busy street where people can drive 45 mph.

09-22-2008, 12:09 PM
By the way, I agree about anyone being kidnapped, and that they don't have to be kids.

However, I think a 14 year old kid has a much better chance of fighting someone off or getting out of a bad situation than a 7 year old. They're stronger, bigger, and smarter.

K and K's Mommy
09-22-2008, 02:33 PM
If anyone is interested, last year my DS and I attended an Escape School class through Cub Scouts. If a child is riding a bike and someone tries to get them off it, the child should hold onto the bike with all his/her might. It is much harder to get a person into a car who is holding onto a bike. If you are walking and approached by someone in a car, turn and run the other way. The "bad" car would have to turn around if they chose to chase. The instructor also had the boys practice the windmill move which is a technique to get away if someone grabs you. I thought it was good information for me as well as the boys.

Having written all this, my 9 year old still can't ride his bike very far because we live off a very busy street. I am much more concerned he might fall into the busy street.

09-22-2008, 02:57 PM
By the way, I agree about anyone being kidnapped, and that they don't have to be kids.

However, I think a 14 year old kid has a much better chance of fighting someone off or getting out of a bad situation than a 7 year old. They're stronger, bigger, and smarter.

Statistics, however, don't back you up. In part because seven year olds aren't unattended while teenagers are, but most abductions of children and sexual abuse of children by strangers happens to teenagers.

09-22-2008, 02:58 PM
16 ::yes::

Seriously, I don't know when I'll ever let my kids go out riding alone. Right now they are 6 and 9 - and not going anywhere! :rotfl:

09-22-2008, 05:16 PM
My ds7 is allowed to go anywhere on our street as long as I know where he's going -- our street is about 3/4 of a mile from end to end but all of his friends live on 1/3 of it. I have "heard" that he's been going around the corner to a rock pile.

09-22-2008, 05:21 PM
I just started letting my DD15 walk around with her neighborhood girlfriend. My ds13 is not allowed. This is a new subdivision with a tremendous amount of construction going on and who knows who is in and out.

09-22-2008, 09:46 PM
We have the same issues. My dd10 wants to walk to school by herself. Its only about a half mile away. But the way to school is a first along a country road with no side walks, and then on a paved path through the woods. I just can't let her do that.

I haven't even let her wait for the bus alone. The bus stop is at the end of our street but not visible from any house. She's the only kid from our street on this bus so she would be standing there by herself, where no one could see her, waiting for the bus to come. So I walk the dog down to the stop with her and wait til the bus comes. I feel kind of silly since she is 10 and thinking of all the freedom I had at that age.

09-23-2008, 02:47 AM
I have a 9 year old, and I won't let him leave my sight yet. He can bike/scooter/play in most of the subdivision and still be within sight of the house. Going a whole block though? That's putting him out of sight, no way.

09-23-2008, 08:58 AM
my boys are 10 and 11 and our road is a circle,we have 2 cops,a fireman and a teacher that live on the circle and a dozen kids that are all out all the time so yes we let them go outside a run wild lol that is why we moved out of the city and to where we live now...they need a little bit of room to grow on there own without us hovering over them all the time,they both have phones with them.

09-23-2008, 12:01 PM
Statistics, however, don't back you up. In part because seven year olds aren't unattended while teenagers are, but most abductions of children and sexual abuse of children by strangers happens to teenagers.

But I wonder about the teenagers. I think a lot of kidnappings and sexual abuse from kidnappings occur because teenagers end up meeting people they've met from the internet at secluded places. I don't have statistics to back me up, but I'm a teacher of teenagers and I know we have LOTS of assemblies, talks, etc. about the safe use of MySpace, etc.

Statistics are fine, but they often don't explain the context of a situation so they can be deceptive.