A long, long time ago I did something I considered edgy: I put my son on a Broward transit bus instead of driving him somewhere. At the time, I told him he had to always ride with a friend and carry a cell phone. I wasn't sure what would happen, but every time I mentioned this to parents complaining about running their kids all over the place, I got looks. You know, looks.
I made this decision after finding out that my son and his friends were riding bicycles far from home, across busy roads. He was 12.
Since then, he's become a regular on the bus, and my giant pickle jar is no longer full of laundry change.
Creed has yet to experience anything on the bus that had to be written up in a police incident report. He hasn't fallen out of his seat and broken a bone, like some riders have complained of. No bus ran over him, as accidentally happened to one unfortunate would-be rider.
I told him those years back that he should consider this a gift, like I've just bought him a key to a car! (This is best said with lots of excitement.)
He can criss-cross the county. He can even go to Miami if he wants to compare the real thing with everything that he's heard.
He and his friends ride the bus to Fort Lauderdale beach. (Transfers are involved. C average or better required.) They've gone many times out to Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, where teenagers are probably hated but there's no law against them being there (ditto for teens everywhere they hang out).
Try it. Close your eyes and put your child on the bus. This has nothing to do with the environment. It's for your child's independence, and your freedom as well.