Wednesday, September 15, 2010

$68

That's how much I've had to spend out of pocket trying to making walking to school a safe option.

Today, after waiting at the crosswalk for several minutes while 50 or so cars drove by oblivious TO THE LAW,

(and P.S. every afternoon while I wait at the same crosswalk a Sheriff's patrol car zooms through too... just sayin')

A woman along side of us, waiting to make a left turn, started yelling in her car.

(No, not at us.)

At the other cars... that it was a CROSSWALK.

Then she put her car in park and got out and tried to stop the traffic for us in her business suit.

I started getting worried that she'd get herself killed.

So I came home and ordered that hand held Stop sign.

I'm also thinking of suggesting to the local paper that they follow us to school.

For real.

This is an expensive school district to live in.

We pay township and village taxes.

And yet they can't maintain the crosswalks or get crossing guards?

Up until a month or two before school started the school district tried to remove the buses from the village limits (except for students who cross the train tracks). All other students within the village limits were to be walked or driven to school. I wasn't shocked by that, seeing as most school districts have about a mile radius that is the walk to school zone. But, here, people were in an uproar. For the last several years they had actually been offering a bus door to door for every single student. But here is my question... up until this summer there was the possibility that all village kids would have to walk... what safety measures were they going to put in place to accommodate that? Weren't they going to spruce up the crosswalks and man them with crossing guards?

In the end the busing situation was compromised. Instead of manning the crosswalks... they have continued busing all kids that live on the other side of what is essentially "main street".

I just find it confounding on so many levels.

People, we live *relatively* far from school. 3/4 mile door to door. And we get there in 12 minutes which includes waiting to cross the street.

But for a town and school district that theoretically wants more walkers (saves them money) they have done nothing to make it safe for students to do so. I've thought of video taping our crossing situation for you, so you can see how bad it really is. They have about 1000 para pros meeting the school buses (slight exaggeration) and they can't get any crossing guards (no exaggeration). The school superintendent is crossing us when we get to the school complex.

The thing is... it currently is not safe for us to walk to school. And we're just about the only walkers. If I wasn't so hell bent on making my point... that we have a right to walk... and that we, factually, have the RIGHT OF WAY... even I'd have given up. The situation is disappointing and dangerous. There is really no safe way for children to walk to and from school by themselves here. Walking my child to school is stressful and infuriating to me. That I am forced to question whether or not we can continue when I have a 7 year old that actually WANTS to walk every morning is pissing me off.

I mean what is going on that I have to spend nearly 70 bucks trying to make walking 3/4 of mile to school... in the school crossing crosswalk... safe? How is this not a BIG PROBLEM?

I'm about to make it one.

19 comments:

Mr Furious said...

Oh, it's a big fucking problem alright. I'm about to become a crossing guard—Punisher-style.

If I have get arrested—or run for mayor—this shit will not stand. My fury and frustration with national politics is about to be brought to bear with laser-like focus on the most local of issues. This city council/school board is not going to know what hit them when they fucked with the Furious Family.

Not. Joking.

Cara said...

you rock my world!

Amy said...

As awesome as your blog is (and it's SOOOO awesome since you moved back), I bet the city council doesn't read it.
Show up at a meeting and let them know. I bet they'll try to fix it.
Our neighbor just rallied from an ass load of new signage and speed bumps and it worked!
Go to a meeting!!!!!!!!!!!

(and maybe you said you would at the end of the post...maybe I skipped that part ;)

Leenie said...

My mom worked hard in our small town growing up to get roads closed for safety. She was called the village bitch for years. The DAY after we moved, they opened the road back up. People are lazy and they'd rather fight to keep their shortcut and laziness then walk. Power to you and bring the hammer down!! BTW, we have extra safety vests, need some?

G in Berlin said...

You go, woman.

Smitty said...

OK...when I say what I am about to say, it is NOT because I am being contrarian...I actually agree with you and know that the only way to move governments is to shove them really really hard. Squeaky wheel blah blah. It's because I want you and Mr. F to use it to hone your laser-like focus into sharp talking points.

My whole job revolves around bureaucracy and reluctance to change.

If you are nearly literally the only family that chooses to walk to school, why would a village devote gobs of funds towards one single family's demands? Obviously, you are creating a safe environment for your kids by way of walking them there. But with narrower budgets regardless of "high taxes," the village has to make choices about how scarce funds are spent. Your cause is certainly worthwhile, but again, being in the vast minority of constituents who walks rather than using other modes of transportation, money can't be spent satisfying what is a minority of demand.

Those are pretty standard "boilerplate" responses from bureaucracies on how the funds and projects someone is asking for are somehow a huge burden. "Only *you* care," "limited funds," "solutions for the entire community/there is no other demand for expensive change than yours alone."

Good luck! They'll cave when you make enough noise.

Mrs Furious said...

Smitty,
At this point (crosswalk was repainted today) all I really want is a crossing guard. On the way home from school there are about 10 kids that cross where we cross (older high school/middle schoolers) I'm going to mention this to the superintendent this afternoon since I'm not sure they're aware that more kids are choosing to get off the bus at the *hub* and walk from there because it's faster. I know what you're saying, though. I'm not expecting change. We'll see. I'm curious since the schools want walkers. But without making that crossing safe no one is going to start walking now.


This all comes a week after someone hit a bike rider and left him for dead on the side of the road.


Amy,
So much better right? I guess when I'm not getting my soul sucked out I have more energy for mocking and embarrassing my family ;)

Gigs said...

I love it when the Furious family gets furious...

Deb said...

But who's to say there aren't more parents who would walk their kids to school if safety measures were put in place? Maybe there are a dozen more Furiouses out there who would like their kids to get exercise. It's still not enough to rally the city council, I'm sure, but a crossing guard doesn't seem like too much to ask. Go get 'em.

Alexandra said...

Aren't crossing guards usually volunteers/older/retired persons? Is it that hard to get those? I don't have kids in school so I know nothing of these things except what I recall and see (just with my eyes...they look like volunteers around us).

Lori said...

Wow, that is awful!! My kids have always walked or biked to school and I have been very thankful to have crossing guards (they are paid employess where I live) as even they have had problems with some people not wanting to stop. Glad we had a crossing guard who was not afraid to whack a car with her stop sign when they tried to run through!
Good luck to you. I totally support you trying to walk your daughter to school. Wish more people would do it!

AshinMT said...

I wanted to chime in on Alexandra's comment.
That is a GREAT idea. I know in my community, you can contact your local RSVP (which, i just googled, and you can go to http://getinvolved.volunteermatch.org- and search for your area) and there is usually ample people willing to volunteer. This seems like it would be an espicially fun one for someone!
Even though maybe the Furious clan couldnt make that happen directly, it would be a great suggestion for a city council or school board member.

Best of Luck!

Mrs Furious said...

Deb,
That's what I'm saying. I think if people saw people walking and crossing guards they'd be more apt to walk. Right now... you have to be a slightly obsessive vigilante to do it ;)


Alexandra,
That's what I've always thought too. Here they seem to be only using school employees.


I did just tell the superintendent of schools/crossing guard that more kids are crossing the main road where we cross after school. She said they'd look into it.

Liz said...

I would be doing the same thing - ordering the STOP SIGN and using it like I was the damn crossing guard.

Hard to believe with the child obesity rates the level they are in the US that some form of gov't isn't promoting walking to school - but then, if they are serving doughnuts for breakfast ????

Liz said...

OK, I thought I read somewhere that they are serving doughnuts for breakfast, but now I can't find that - must have been drinking earlier ;P

Mrs Furious said...

Liz,
Oh you did read that. One of the breakfast choices is a bag of donuts. FOR REAL.

Smitty said...

Deb:

Yeah, exactly! That's the point. If you seek out other parents whom you find drive their kids to school only because the roads are massively unsafe, you have a real "grassroots" ground-swell. All it takes is a few questions to neighbors. Then...change. It's the only part of my job that keeps me from being so cynical that even my kids hate me ("yeah, SURE you love me, you little brat...you just SAY it.."): the fact that people driven enough institute change.

Nutmeg said...

There might be a petition opportunity for you, also. (to get parents who WOULD walk on board). And definitely a visit to a town meeting. Planning/Zoning or School Board.

My town is Rife with crossing guards, because there are no busses. I'm fairly certain here they are paid, though not much. And they are pretty zealous. There is a crossing guard at a main intersection adjacent to a hospital that also has a bus stop. The crossing guards stop traffic (at a busy intersection) against the light to cross ADULTS who are walking to the hospital or the bus stop. I think they must get bored waiting for the kids.

Maybe if they won't put a crossing guard there, perhaps a sign with flashing lights warning people of the impending cross walk, and your aforementioned ticketing-a-palooza events. I think you should be able to get the police on board with that, as it's nice easy money. I think around here disobeying cross walks in a school zone is an even greater fine.

I can tell you for a fact that I would be as pissed off and vigilante as you are. I can also tell you that the small neighborhood school that E will go to a LOT of parents drive their kids there.... and no one can possibly live more than 12 blocks away. It's just silly.

Amy said...

Can we get this on video? The vests and the stop sign and the woman jumping out of her car and whatnot?

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