At what age can kids cross a crosswalk alone? Mine are almost-9 and 7. It’s a suburban road with a lit crosswalk but still a main road with a speed of 60 km [about 37 mph].—Brandi
There is no simple, data-based answer to this question. For one thing, it depends on your child. Nine-year-olds vary quite a lot. It also depends some on the road configuration. But more than anything, it depends on you. Allowing your children to do this does entail some risk. That risk is likely extremely small, and one you can make smaller by (say) practicing with them before you let them do it alone. But it is impossible to eliminate. On the flip side, there may be very large benefits to children having autonomy to do things like cross the street alone to the park. Certainly there was more of this in the past, and there are arguments made by many (i.e. the “free-range kids” movement) that this kind of freedom is important for children’s development.
This is a real tradeoff, and it’s closely related to a huge number of decisions we make about physical freedom for our kids. I have a whole chapter of The Family Firm talking through this, but it really is one of those choices you just need to make deliberately for yourself.
One possibly helpful note. When making this kind of choice, it is easy to focus on the downside risks — an occupational hazard of having children is the constant fear of them getting hurt, or worse. It is harder to see the benefits, but you’ll make better choices if you can try to see them. When my older child was in second grade, we let her start walking the two blocks home alone. It felt scary, even with someone at the crosswalk, but we decided it was a good idea. We told her, though, to always stay on the sidewalk.
One day, when she was almost home, she came to a problem. A work truck parked in our neighbor’s driveway was blocking the sidewalk. She would need to walk into the street to get around it. Faced with this problem, she turned around and walked back toward school. She ran into another parent she knew and asked them to walk her home. She was so unbelievably proud at having figured out how to navigate this, and it’s something I remind myself of every time I let her go a little more.