Update: San Diego TV station attempts to thin the herd by encouraging children to ride against traffic

Evidently, they have too many children in San Diego.

How else can you explain a news report on KFMB-TV encouraging children riding to school to risk their lives by salmoning on the wrong side of the road?

And if your child walks, rides a bike or a skateboard to school, make sure they travel against traffic and always wears a helmet.

The helmet advice is fine. In fact, helmets are legally required in California for all bike riders under 18. And walking against traffic can be good advice, although it might have been nice to encourage children to walk on the sidewalk, rather than in the street.

But riding a bike against traffic is not only illegal — bikes are required to ride with traffic — but exceptionally dangerous. While it may give the illusion of increasing safety by allowing riders to see oncoming traffic, it reduces reaction times for both the rider and drivers while greatly increasing the severity of any collision.

It’s bad enough that a local reporter got it wrong and gave children and parents the wrong advice in a mistaken attempt to improve back-to-school safety. What’s worse is that the statement came in the middle of a quote from a California Highway Patrol officer.

At best, it appears to give official support for the reporter’s error. At worst, it suggests that the officer in question is badly misinformed about bike law and safety, and offering advice that could put children at risk.

Hopefully, they’ll make a correction soon. Before anyone takes their advice.

And maybe they’ll talk to someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about before making a similar mistake again.

Update: As of 12:30 today, KFMB still has not corrected their report, despite promising several people who contacted them that they would do so. As a result, I sent them the following email.

Dear Adrienne Moore — 

I’ve heard from a number of people who have contacted you today to correct the dangerously false advice given in your report “Avoiding a big danger kids face on way to school.” They wrote you to asking that you correct the suggestion that children riding bikes should ride against, rather than with, traffic. 
This is both illegal, as California law requires that all cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic, and dangerous because it reduces reaction time for the cyclists and for motorists rushing towards them. There is no valid authority that advices riding against traffic in the U.S.; however, the placement of the statement within the discussion by CHP Officer Brian Pennings suggests that he provided you with that information.
If he told you that cyclists should ride facing traffic, he is wrong, and this gives you an opportunity to both correct his error and inform the general public how to ride safely with traffic. If not, you have done the CHP a disservice by suggesting that Officer Pennings is unaware of one of the most basic laws governing cycling.
Your continued failure to correct this advice puts the lives and safety of children at risk. I must insist that you offer a full retraction immediately before anyone is injured or killed as a result of your error; simply correcting the story online will not be sufficient to remedy the damage that has been done.
Update 2: I haven’t received a response to my email; however, the video report has been re-edited to say that pedestrians should walk against traffic, and skateboarders and bicyclists should wear a helmet. However, the online print version of the story still has not been corrected, and as far as I can tell, no effort has been made to correct the misinformation given all the people who may have heard or read the original report.
Update 3: I received a response from Adrienne Moore, the reporter who covered the story for KFMB, who apologized for the error and said the story had been corrected. However, the online print version still has not been corrected as of 10 pm August 23rd.

9 comments

  1. billdsd says:

    The reaction time issue is not the biggest problem with wrong way riding. It just underscores the fact that the belief that seeing cars coming at you makes you safer is mistaken.

    The biggest problem with wrong way riding is drivers crossing the bicyclist’s path making turns. The most common of these would be drivers making right turns out of driveways or from cross streets. They either don’t look to their right at all or at least not far enough to see someone travelling at bicycle speeds. A similar problem occurs with drivers who are travelling in the same direction as the bicyclist and then turn left across their path. Drivers aren’t looking for traffic in a place that it’s not supposed to be.

  2. Joe Linton says:

    don’t you mean “thin the herd”?

  3. billdsd says:

    I listened to the video and it does not say what the written article says. I think that this might be an issue of the reporter who translated the video to the written article. The video only tells walkers to travel against traffic. The only advice it gives for bicyclists is wearing a helmet.

    • bikinginla says:

      The video has been re-edited, finally. As of noon today, it said the same thing the online version did. At some point this afternoon, they changed it to say that walkers should go against traffic, and skateboarders and cyclists should wear a helmet.

      Unfortunately, as near as I can tell, they haven’t done anything to correct the misinformation they gave all the people who saw the video prior to that.

  4. After posting a second comment in frustration that the error children to bicycle against traffic still stood, I sent an email to Moore and cc’d it to the CBS8 newsdesk yesterday , and rec’d the following response this morning from Moore:

    “I appreciate your concern about this story. The error was immediately corrected Tuesday morning and a revised version was uploaded to our site.The video has been double checked again, and the segment is accurate. I’m not sure if you were sent an old link, but the issue has been addressed.”

    Old link? Addressed? To be sure she was wrong I cleared my browser’s cache and shut down/restarted my browser and the ERROR IS STILL THERE. Then I went to the CBS8 homepage and found the link to it and on the page that came up the ERROR IS STILL THERE.

    I then attached a screencap of the FAIL and respectfully suggested they get a clue, but I’m not holding my breath.

  5. Erik G. says:

    The copy was probably written by a Baby-Boomer. Wasn’t riding against traffic still being promoted by someone like Schwinn or Huffy in the comic books of the early 1970′s?

  6. Allan says:

    The reporter doesn’t say ride against traffic, but it is poorly worded for sure! “If your child walks to school, make sure they travel against traffic, and if they ride a bike or skateboard, it’s important they always wear a helmet.

    :55 of the video

    (oh I didn’t see that it’s been edited)

    • bikinginla says:

      Exactly. They re-edited the on-air version after several people complained, but haven’t corrected the online print version of the story.

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