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Detroit Father Charged With Child Endangerment for Cycling With Sons

11:25 AM EDT on October 7, 2011

In the United States we have an obesity epidemic that is overwhelming our healthcare system and destabilizing the economy.

And how do we respond? Criminalizing bicycling.

In August it was a Tennessee mom. Now, Detroit police are pursing charges against a father whose uneventful weekend outing with his young sons was considered so deviant, it was apparently deemed worthy of state intervention on behalf of the children.

Todd Scott at M-Bike.org has this report:

On September 2nd, Sean Harrington biked to the Detroit RiverWalk with his twin sons in a bike trailer. On the way home, he took the sidewalk north on Park Avenue, which is a one way side street heading south.

When pedestrians and construction scaffolding blocked the sidewalk, he rode on the road for about four car lengths.

That was apparently too much for Detroit Police who issued Harrington a $110 ticket and now may face charges of child endangerment.

What’s even more ridiculous is Park Avenue is a very low volume road. A 2005 study found an average of 280 cars per day on this section of road, which is lower than most residential neighborhood streets. North bound Clifford just west of Park carries ten times more traffic, and Woodward even more still.

Impeding vehicle traffic? Seriously?

Rather than hold government officials accountable for approving plans that make it dangerous to move around without a car, we charge those who dare to bike and walk. Therein lies the problem in this country.

Elsewhere on the Network today: CarFree With Kids interviews a carfree West Virginia family as part of its ongoing first-person series featuring households with young children that get around by bike and transit. Pedestrian Observations explores the connection between city size and congestion levels. And Market Urbanism discusses how low-income housing interests have become an unlikely obstacle to removing parking minimums on California.

Editor's Note: Yesterday we published a story that included information, sourced from a blog, that was outdated and therefore incorrect. The post was pulled when we learned of the update. We apologize for any confusion or misinformation.

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