Thursday, September 9, 2010

6 Kids

Out of something like 1000 K-4th graders actually walked to school today.

Yesterday there were fewer.

Maybe just us.

And we're technically in the "no walk zone" since we have to cross a *busy* road. (For here... it is still a 25 MPH road)

Which FYI they have no crossing guard for despite being just 3 blocks from one of the elementary schools.

And for some unknown reason they've let the crosswalk markings on the road fade to nearly non-existent... yet have a school crossing sign pointing to it.

Sounds confusing.

Yes, that's just what you want to promote driver awareness and pedestrian safety... right?... confusion?!

I LOVE trying to wait with my child to cross the road while car after car just drives by oblivious to our right of way.

I'm committed to walking as long as we can (which In MI might not be much longer due to ice on the sidewalks and roads... and you may recall my butt & ice don't mix), despite walking 3/4 mile each way (which equals 3 miles a day for me).

Because it's healthier, faster than the buses (which pick up next door a half an hour before we leave to walk, and arrive home 45 minutes later after school), and great exercise for the both of us. It also means Kid arrives at school alert and ready to learn. And it gives us an opportunity to talk about our day.

But there are less than a handful of parents walking or encouraging their children to walk to school even from within the "no bus zone" which is between 1 and 4 blocks from the schools with crossing guards and sidewalks.

I saw only ONE bike locked up in the bike stand outside of our school yesterday.

It is such a disturbing reflection.

I have more things to say... but a lot of it is angry statements at how distracted drivers are and how self-obsessed people have become that they are more concerned with making that left than letting a child cross the road IN THE FUCKING SCHOOL CROSSWALK to get to school.

That just pisses me off.

And so I do get why some parents thinking walking is unsafe (although honestly there is a large population of families in the village for whom the walking safety is not an issue), and to be sure I would not let Kid walk/scooter to school by herself considering the current road issue.

And instead of the town putting money into maintaining and improving the crosswalks (giving tickets just one day to drivers would probably have a big effect since this is a small town with the same drivers on the same roads at the same time every day) to make walking a safe and practical mode of transportation for those of us who really do live close enough to walk... instead... they spend markedly more bussing (people, up until this year they bussed EVERY child door to door... even if you lived NEXT DOOR to the school).

Then we wonder what to do about our rising rates of childhood obesity.

P.S. the bag of donuts the school gives out for breakfast aren't helping either.

I think unfortunately we're in a bit of a "which comes first the chicken or the egg" scenario now. If fewer and fewer families walk, drivers will become less accustomed to watching out for pedestrians... and then walking becomes much more dangerous... and then less people will walk. A little education could go a long way here.


Oh and just so you know... most of the drivers that don't stop to let us cross... are PARENTS DRIVING THEIR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL.

18 comments:

Kelly said...

I completely agree with you. I wish we lived a little closer to our school so I could walk my kids, but we live almost 4 miles away. I think the options they have for breakfast are appalling (such as a honeybun and HI-C). In our district they have cut PE down to one time a week, and recess is 2o min a day (if that). Then they wonder why our state has such a high rate of obesity, and why, kids have trouble concentrating in class. They have too much pent up energy.
As for people being self-absorbed, that is a growing epidemic in this country. Most people are all about me me me, and bigger is better. So much so, that I have noticed alot of moms at my kids' school don't even take the time to put their smart phone down and ask their kids about their day when they pick them up. Really disgusting, if you ask me.

Cara said...

I say you propose that idea to the city, about the tickets, because in one day they might make enough money off of it to build a better sidewalk!

wootini said...

I would be, well, furious if I were you! I don't know what your local gov't structure is like, but here I would so be on the phone to my district supervisor about the maintenance needed for the crosswalk/enforcement. One of those speed display devices would be a good idea too.

Most kids at our school are lucky enough to be able to walk, faciliated by crossing guards and a large student patrol system.

Oh I still have those 2 red knobs for you if you want them - I'm sorry I haven't been able to get to the other World Market yet (back to school feels like being shot out of a cannon, helmetless). If you sent me an email I am so sorry I missed it - I didn't get it. Try wootini@me.com.

Emily

Mrs Furious said...

Cara,
Good idea. I'm going to tell the cop that sits at the front of the school.

Kelly,
"So much so, that I have noticed alot of moms at my kids' school don't even take the time to put their smart phone down and ask their kids about their day when they pick them up."
Totally!
3/4 of mile is LONG.... 4 miles is definitely in the bussing category. Our whole town is only a mile wide. I just think everyone in the village limits should at least be able to walk to school safely.


Wootini,
OH no problem. 2 is all I really need. That's great. I'll email you.

Bob said...

You think that is bad, it is currently against East Lansing School District Policy to ride bicycles to K-6 Elementary School. This includes riding with a parent or guardian. East Lansing is one of the only schools in Michigan with such a policy.

I am not sure how they have a say one way or another, but there is an effort to change the policy.

Mrs Furious said...

Bob,
That is full on crazy. Preposterous.
I can see things going like that though.
Even here with me walking they have all the sidewalks along the school roped off for the buses to let out kids... but I can't cross the drive from one sidewalk to the other to get to school... because the sidewalk that goes to the school is roped for the buses. There is no sidewalk for walkers. Really. No sidewalk for walkers? So we have to walk in the road/school drive which, of course, is unsafe and not allowed. I'm just trying to let this first week of school hammer out (all new bus system) and then I'll start the complaints.

Gigs said...

Our kids will be walkers all the way through high school. They complain in the rain and winter weather, but since we live where we live and I work part time, there's no way around it, and I'm glad. We have an awesome traffic guard who knows all (and I mean ALL) of the walkers' names, and their birthdays too!

I've heard of a Walk It Bike It school program we have here. Maybe they have one in MI? Kids and teachers log miles walked/bike to/from school and it's a contest, so there's some motivation.

As for the distracted drivers - this is a huge pet peeve of mine. Everyone is in such a hurry and self-focused. It's an epidemic...

Shirls said...

I find it interesting that parents around here keep freaking out about school zones (30 km/ph (18 m/ph) during school hours) they want slower speeds, longer stretches turned into school zones and yet they are the ones that do the craziest driving, jay walking and parking around the schools!

btw we always walked to school, we weren't even allowed to use our bicycles and we had to cross a major highway, BUT the cars did stop with NO crosswalk painted or signed. To quote my Mum "you have two feet for a reason" LOL

Mrs Furious said...

Shirls,
18MPH?! How much slower could you possibly drive?!

Gigs,
I look it up. Seeing as so few people are walking I kind of doubt it.

trifitmom said...

my mom is always shocked at how many bikes are in the racks outisde of the schools in my area. i am sure 100% ofkids bike or walk....we love that about this town....stick to yourguns

Mrs Furious said...

trifitmom,
wow. I'd love to see the sidewalk/crossing situation there, etc, so I'd know what to suggest needed improvement. If that's even the root cause of the problem here. Maybe it's just the local culture.

Elizabeth said...

When we were in elementary, mom and dad somehow managed to get them to put a crossing guard where we needed one. (Across Adams at Derby) Perhaps you could bug them until they do the same for you?

Ask mom about it.

Torey said...

The reason your little town discourages walking is that a student was killed walking home from school in 1995 or 96. They've been discouraging walking ever since then. He was in fifth grade. The small town used to be smaller then, and it was a huge tragedy. I'm not saying to make you feel bad, I'm saying this so you understand what you might be up against if you try to get more walkers.

Then they put the new middle school out of walking distance for a lot of the former walkers (and there didn't use to be a sidewalk there) and then the new high school is out of walking distance for most people. So I think they kind of messed up the "walker" boundaries and they don't know how to fix them.

You should look at annarbor.com for the article about the bussing situation there. Some of the comments were hilarious.

CM said...

Looks like you may have found your next activity. 1) see if you can get any parents w/kids in your hood you know to walk/ride bikes all together. Finding one is 85% of success. 2) Nicely ask the city/school district to freshen up the paint on the crosswalk. They're negligent for letting it fade--and in a school zone, too! Start talking up a crossing guard. 3) Ask around for other parents who'd like to encourage a walk/ride to school program. It's a green thing, dontcha know? You can't be the only one thinking this! As long as you're nice about it (this IS the Midwest, after all) such an effort could probably work. And you're the kind of person who could make it work.

Mrs Furious said...

CM,
I already talked to the crossing guard closer to school... she's one of the districts former principals (interesting). She's going to ask that our lines get repainted. I was hoping to meet up with other parents in route but I only met one Dad who was grumbling that he had to walk 2 blocks to get his daughter when last year they had a bus. So not exactly in my camp. I'm going to get myself noticed though. Just ordered my own crossing guard vest...

Torey,
Interesting background info. Hmm. That maybe explains why they went to the 100% bussing.
Great comments on that article. The bussing situation blows. We have to walk upstream against all the bussers to try and leave the school property (crazy in and of itself... and would be not doable for a child trying to walk alone... really confusing and trample-prone)... and they really were sitting there for over an hour. Imagine how confusing/intimidating that would be if you were 5 and it was your first time ever trying to ride a bus.
What I'm dying to find out is why if Kid is a "walker" she isn't allowed to leave the building after school without my coming and signing her out? At what age would you be allowed to walk home unassisted? If you need to get a parent down to each school to sign you out I can see why parents drive.

Deb said...

I'm always blown away by how many people I see walking their children to school and exercising in my neighborhood every day. Our school crossing guards are disturbingly aggressive, and each of them have an adult supervisor who doesn't seem shy about talking to drivers who pull past the crosswalk lines at the stop lights. It's truly impressive.

But given the size of the people in MN, I'm fairly confident my neighborhood is an exception and not the rule. It really is a bummer how city designers don't get it.

Gigs said...

The WalkIt BikeIt program in CT was administered by Safe Routes to School. There is one in MI (I think it's a federal program) - I didn't really get into the site, but you can check it out and see if it offers any useful info (or not?)

http://saferoutesmichigan.org/

Torey said...

You know, SafeKids (a national safety organization) does a Walk To School thing. Last year we opened a new a crosswalk at a school in Ypsi. . . Maybe you could contact the local SafeKids and get them involved? They have Grant Money to spend on things like this. Then they pimp it to the schools and students in an effort to get more people to walk safely!

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