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Walking to School – One Neighborhood at a Time

by Gary Hays | September 16th, 2015 | Elementary, Safety

children walking (400x400)At one time in the not too distant past, it was not uncommon to see hordes of children wandering through neighborhood streets in search of fun and new adventures. They were everywhere. And if these same children lived within a mile of their school, they walked, or bicycled, or even skateboarded their way to a higher education. It wasn’t just the older kids, even the little tykes were hoofing’ it, lunch pails in hand. A lot has changed.

As more and more parents reached the decision these manual methods of transportation were no longer acceptable, they began giving their children rides to school, regardless the short distance, and thus, traffic began to dramatically increase, particularly in school zones. Let’s face it, there is nothing more frightening than a half-awake mom or dad, hair in disarray, coffee in one hand, steering wheel in the other, hoping to God, they do not have a flat tire or get pulled over, or even get recognized for that matter. Things have gotten pretty rough out there. With the marked increases in traffic, some drivers more bushy-tailed than others, areas around schools have now become far too treacherous to allow children the benefit of walking. It simply is no longer safe.

It should come as no significant surprise that since 1969, the number of children between ages five and 14  walking or bicycling to school has dropped from 48% to around 5%. Also in 1969, 89% of all kids living within one mile of their school, found their own way.

Smaller cities and ‘burbs may appear to have the situation under decent control with the presence of crossing guards, but they are generally only present at major intersections, and folks love to speed down side streets trying to beat the other parents giving their kids a ride to school. Ironically, traffic, and the associated dangers for our children, would greatly reduce if more parents went back to the age old tradition of allowing their children to walk to school, thereby helping reduce the very traffic dangers we have created.

Of course no parent wants to be the first to toss their child out on the cold, barren sidewalk, and why would they if no one else is going to do it? What would be the point of that senseless decision? Here is a suggestion which may work for those of you within a mile of your children’s school: Team up!

What better way to teach your child safety than by grouping the neighborhood kids together? The first few weeks will require full parental supervision, one parent per child so your children can better learn while in the presence of mom or dad, all of the rules and precautions. Stick to the same path every day.

After a few weeks, parents can assume responsibility for the group on a rotational basis, either weekly or on one particular weekday.  Best of all? Several cars have been taken off the road, plus the exercise won’t kill any of us, including our precious children.

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