A kid (not E.G., not the same age) on Metro. Photo by JamesCalder on Flickr.

Reader E.G. wrote in with this question: “As a thirteen year old in a suburb of DC, how do I convince my mom to let me ride the Metro alone?”

A few years ago, New York journalist Lenore Skenazy let her 9-year-old son ride alone on the New York subway. She felt he was mature enough to handle it and that he was actually pretty safe.

Many accused her of being a bad parent, while many more defended her, suggesting parents today are far too protective. Skenazy ended up writing a book, Free Range Kids, which advocates that parents let children be more independent, through things like riding the subway alone or playing in parks without constant supervision.

As for the 13-year-old boy who wrote the letter, he’s 4 whole years older than Skenazy’s son and would be taking trips on a system that’s more suburban in its design and ridership than the New York subway.

I suggested E.G. first talk with his mom to find out what her concerns are, so that he can understand, acknowledge, and respond to them. I also encouraged E.G. to propose that he take his first solo trips entirely within the suburban county where they live, and that he call his mom as soon as he gets on and off the train. With these steps, E.G.‘s mom can become more confident that he knows how to use the system and how to remain safe.

At what age would you let your kids ride Metro? What advice do you have for E.G.?

Tagged: metro, parenting

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.