Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Walking and Biking

Iris and I are reading Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby series in order. In Ramona the Pest (link to entire first chapter), 5-year old Ramona was left alone in the house one morning while her mother took her older sister to the doctor. Her mother instructed Ramona to walk to school at quarter past eight. Ramona knew exactly what time that was. A quarter is 25 cents so she left the house promptly at 8:25. Where were all the other children? The streets were eerily empty. She ran to school and found out that she was late.

Why can't we do that today? Nowadays, one could be prosecuted for child neglect for leaving a 5 year old alone in the house. Is it because our houses are more dangerous? I doubt it. The Quimby house likely contained lead paint and exposed wiring. Are there more child predators than 40 years ago? Again, not likely. Parents today are just more focused on the dangers.

In addition, our school district insists that children younger than 4th grade be accompanied to campus by an adult. Because Iris attends after school supervisory care, an adult also needs to sign her in each day. That means parents can't just pull up to the curb and push their kids out the car door. This has lead to a mad scene on the streets surrounding the school each morning as parents (in cars) double park, block driveways, dart across streets or even park across sidewalks in order to find someplace to park.

In our quest for safety, we have made the world a more dangerous place. We know the number one killer in this country is heart disease. We know that inactivity is the primary cause of heart disease. Yet, we insist on driving our kids everywhere instead of allowing them to walk or bike places.

Moreover, we are driving them around in ever more massive vehicles with higher centers of gravity and larger blind spots. The number of children being crushed under the wheels of the light trucks used to ferry them around in the name of safety is staggering.

Help end the madness. May 14-18, 2007 is Bike to Work Week. Consider walking or biking to school with your kids before continuing on to work. Join me at the El Segundo Bike to Work Day challenge on May 15 on Douglas street ~200 yards south of El Segundo Boulevard. Free breakfast and Goodie Bags (with useful stuff) for every pedestrian and bicycle commuter!

One year, I made elastic pant leg straps for everyone who rode in. This year, I will just post a pattern. Stay tuned.

2 comments:

  1. We walk our kids to and from school. We can't let them walk by themselves because drivers don't watch for pedestrians. I've learned to make eye contact before I even consider walking across the road, but so many of the vehicles these days are so tall, they can't even see my (tall) kids.

    We're the weird parents at our school. I've seen a couple of other kids walk, but it's rare. What I see more often is kids who live a block and a half away being driven by their parents. Sad.

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  2. Love this post. I quoted it in a response to comments on my blog entry at Grist.

    Glad to see you won a trophy.

    As a side note, my daughter (a little younger at 3) had a special relationship with a cheetah when she was about 18 months. We had a zoo membership and took her several times a week. Here's the video.

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