Yesterday was the first Monday of the school year and I was the chauffeur in chief. I felt like a spent the whole day staring out the windshield catching up on all the summer hit songs on the radio – some several times.
Driving in the City is Expensive
It certainly costs a lot of time – probably two hours out of my day – waiting at stop lights, detouring around road projects, looking for parking but it costs even more money. My little BMW is 50% less efficient in town than on the highway! With gasoline over $4 a gallon, it’s a good thing that I prefer to get my daily exercise by walking to the green grocer, the tailor, the drug store, the grocery store, the convenience store, and the post office.
Beyond the costs to operate and maintain a vehicle and the time wasted in heavy traffic, gasoline emissions are a major source of global pollution and resulting climate change. The materials used to pave roads are an additional source of long-term atmospheric pollution.
Tax revenues are limited. City councils are forced to make choices between street repairs and spending on parks and libraries. If cities and suburbs can be persuaded to channel investments toward publicly accessible transit – small improvements can make a big difference.
Enter The Walking School Bus
Every morning during the school year neighborhoods across America are clogged with cars dropping off school children. Nothing causes more urban pollution than cars idling in a long line – waiting to get to the drop-off point.
Schools and local governments, encouraged by First Lady Michelle Obama, have spent heavily on putting our children on a diet and urging increased regular exercise. Getting enough exercise is the challenge.
Enter the concept of the walking school bus. We have one walking school bus in a nearby neighborhood. The kids and parents really enjoy it.
The walking school bus works just like the yellow school bus – that’s been budgeted out of existence – except that the children join a walk to school rather than boarding a bus. There are regular “pick up” points and “pick up” times plus adequate adult supervision all the way to the classroom door – usually provided by parent volunteers. In the afternoon the walking school bus drops the children at the same “drop points”. Assuming a child lives 1 mile from school, they get their daily one hour minimum exercise on the “bus”.
Meanwhile, the city is avoiding hundreds, if not thousands, of extra vehicle miles on streets. That means fewer potholes and street repairs. Thousands of pounds of carbon pollution are not emitted into the atmosphere.
Talk with your school principal and Parent’s Club President about starting a “walking school bus” program in your school district. It’s free! It’s easy and it’s healthy for your children and for you!
Becoming a parent walking school bus volunteer serves two purposes. A brisk walk with your children and their friends is great substitute for a dreary hour spent in the gym! Doctors regularly point to walking as the healthiest form of exercise.
Parents participating in the walking school bus are reinforcing the lessons their children are learning in school. Parent volunteers are setting an example for their children. They are “walking the walk” as well as “talking the talk” about the importance of daily physical exercise to build healthy minds and healthy bodies.
The walking school bus teaches children and parents, alike, that Individuals can seize the initiative to fix a societal problem without waiting for the government to develop an elaborate and expensive plan.
Photo Credit: Safe Kids Sonoma County
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