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Thread: School Commute Safety for Teen Girl

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    Default School Commute Safety for Teen Girl

    My friend's daughter recently told her mother that she doesn't want to commute to school on her bike anymore because she is uncomfortable with men yelling at her from the road and a more recent incident where a walker tried to stop her and grab her handlebars while telling her "Yeah girl, you ride that bike". Does anyone have any safety tips or suggestions that I can give my friend and her daughter? She is in middle school and uses the W&OD trail to get to school.

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    I thought teenagers would be safer from such situations because a bike hides a female's hourglass shape, and I still think it is. They can go around a trouble spot easily. But they trade this safety for invisibility from car drivers, unless they dismount when crossing intersections.

    YouTube can stream live from smartphones, and the video is kept for 12 hours. Amazon has a camera for $71 that can stream live to Facebook/Youtube but only on iPhone. It has handlebar mount, and waterproof enclosure. I am sure there are others that can stream for Android.

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    lordofthemark is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jk22204 View Post
    My friend's daughter recently told her mother that she doesn't want to commute to school on her bike anymore because she is uncomfortable with men yelling at her from the road and a more recent incident where a walker tried to stop her and grab her handlebars while telling her "Yeah girl, you ride that bike". Does anyone have any safety tips or suggestions that I can give my friend and her daughter? She is in middle school and uses the W&OD trail to get to school.

    That's terrible. We in Alexandria are doing work on safe routes to school, but the focus of that effort is traffic safety. I would suggest A. Call the police in the local jurisdiction (Arlington?). B. If there is another kid interested in riding, have them convoy together.

    There is the idea of using a camera, not sure I would trust that though. Women here may have better ideas.

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    Is there a vigilante justice bike gang following nearby option?

    I'll ask the ladies of the house for suggestions. They were teenagers on bikes when it was much less common. I'm guessing they'll say ride like you're on a mission and dress to blend in. Wear something that looks like a GoPro on top of helmet. And, those guys are assholes.

    If riding with a friend is an option that's cool or just following along someone who rides about the same pace. Speaking as a somewhat over-protective middle aged guy, if another cyclist said they wanted to ride along with me because they don't like that intersection or area coming up, or whatever. I would bend over backwards to ride with them and help them feel safe.

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    Jk22204 sorry about the situation, that's terrible

    This seems like a good thing to seek advice from the Washington area Women and Bicycles Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WomenandBicycles/

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    Quote Originally Posted by jk22204 View Post
    My friend's daughter recently told her mother that she doesn't want to commute to school on her bike anymore because she is uncomfortable with men yelling at her from the road and a more recent incident where a walker tried to stop her and grab her handlebars while telling her "Yeah girl, you ride that bike". Does anyone have any safety tips or suggestions that I can give my friend and her daughter? She is in middle school and uses the W&OD trail to get to school.
    Please tell me you reported this to the local police, especially the guy who tried to grab her handlebars

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930AZ using Tapatalk

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    After consulting the women of the house... They didn't have anything politically correct to say.

    Helmet cam or appearance thereof is a decent idea. Ignore the assholes and pedal on was the most realistic. Ride with a pissed off woman's roller derby team in tow was probably most likely to include a felony outcome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jk22204 View Post
    My friend's daughter recently told her mother that she doesn't want to commute to school on her bike anymore because she is uncomfortable with men yelling at her from the road and a more recent incident where a walker tried to stop her and grab her handlebars while telling her "Yeah girl, you ride that bike". Does anyone have any safety tips or suggestions that I can give my friend and her daughter? She is in middle school and uses the W&OD trail to get to school.
    This makes me more angry than I could have possibly imagined.

    Men are seriously yelling at her from the road?! And trying to stop her by grabbing her handlebars?!

    WHAT IN THE EVER LIVING F#CK!? It is bad enough this kind of crap happens to adult women, but middle schoolers?!

    This happens on the W&OD?! Where and what times? I would like to figure out if this is normal every day traffic or construction workers. Perhaps an enhanced police presence can deter this ridiculous behaviour.

    Safety tips (assuming she lives in VA): Train her how to use pepper spray and have her carry it on her handlebars (they make holsters that can be strapped to the bars). Use it liberally when asshats are being asshats. If she rides in the early morning/late afternoon, ensure she has SUPER bright lights so that observers have a harder time determining who is on the bike. Teach her how to move the beam away from oncoming bike traffic if necessary. Have a trusted adult male ride with her for a few mornings/afternoons. Request local PD provide enhanced patrols through that area. Have her take a self defense class.

    Now what YOU (as a whole, not necessarily the OP) can do: Call out shitty behaviour when it happens. Do not let your male friends get away with being a jerk to women. If the good men in our lives continuously call out this bad behaviour, it will decrease as it becomes less and less acceptable. Stop ignoring it and do something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunyata View Post
    Train her how to use pepper spray and have her carry it on her handlebars (they make holsters that can be strapped to the bars). Use it liberally when asshats are being asshats.
    I wouldn't strap any defensive item to the handlebars. Anything for personal protection should be kept on your body and within easy reach (i.e. not buried under other items in a jersey or jacket pocket)

    On the handlebars it's visible to any would be assailant who would likely see you reaching for it.

    Plus theres a good chance that by the time you decide you need to use it, you might not be within easy reach of your handlebars.

    If I'm still upright and moving, I would keep pedaling to get away. Trying to use it while still moving is a good way to crash.

    If I've stopped it's because the assailant forced me to stop by blocking my path or caused me to crash which means there's a good chance I'm no longer within easy reach of the handlebars.

    That said, a large metal frame pump makes an excellent improvised baton.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930AZ using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by AFHokie View Post
    On the handlebars it's visible to any would be assailant who would likely see you reaching for it.
    Second concern with this--is pepper spray allowed on school property? I know having pepper spray was a suspend-able offense in my high school, even if it was left in a car. On the handlebars would make it very easy for school officials to spot. Another object that's legal, like AFHokie's recommendation for a frame pump that can be accessed quick may make more sense. A whistle can help too. A few times when I've been harassed on the street I got very loud, and it succeeded in getting the harasser to back off. Sunyata's recommendation about lights is also a very good one. And having her (or her mom) post on the Women and Bikes facebook group may help. There might be some women locally who'd be willing to ride along with her if they commute around the same time.

    I also agree with other posters--they should report this to the police, especially someone grabbing her handlebars. Her getting harassed is completely ridiculous. I mean it's bad enough that this happens to adults, but MIDDLE SCHOOLERS?!?!?

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