Kids should be able to ride bikes and walk to school. Especially if they live across the street from school.


I loved riding my bike and running and walking places as a kid. My feet and my bike were my tickets to personal freedom between dusk and dawn during the summer time. So this is kind of awful to me:

Principal Stuart Byrne says the ban is safety-driven. “Obviously bike riding is healthy,” Byrne says. “Never on earth is our thought that bike riding isn’t good—but traffic here has increased tremendously in 18 years.” In 1995, in an attempt to calm the hectic entrance and exit hours, Byrne hired an off-duty policeman to direct traffic. “It was a bright, sunny Friday afternoon,” he says of one memorable day during the officer’s first week at work. “The buses were just starting to roll—and I can still hear the screeching tires. Five minutes later he came inside, whiter than that sheet of paper. He said he’d almost gotten it both ways.” Byrne cancelled the experiment; eventually the school got a crosswalk, but there’s no sidewalk, nor any traffic light other than a flashing School Zone warning. Even kids who live directly across the street from school are required to get there every day by either bus or car.

“I don’t think Stu Byrne’s initial [concern] was the safety of our kids,” says Janette Marino. “If it were, they would have put in a traffic light when the school was originally built—and kids wouldn’t have to be on a bus for 40 minutes.” Janette points to studies (performed by the National Resources Defense Council, Coalition for Clean Air, and University of California at Berkeley) that show diesel-exhaust levels inside some school buses are more than eight times higher than the average content of the air outside—and, as children’s lungs are more susceptible to toxins, the report surmises that ailments such as cancer, bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma can ensue. Still, parents who then conclude that the safest course is to drive a child to school should be aware that, while 85 children under age 16 were killed while cycling in the United States in 2009 (the year the Marinos caused a ruckus), more than 15 times as many—1,314—kids under age 15 died in motor-vehicle crashes.

source: Why Johnny Can’t Ride.

Kids should be able to ride bikes and walk to school. Especially if they live across the street from school.

So, what you have is an intersection where traffic has gotten bad and the principal and community won’t insist on safety standards during school hours to allow children to use a safer and healthier mode of transportation (walking and or biking). See something wrong here? We keep asking kids to bend towards negative developments in society (people needing to drive so fast past a school while probably yapping on a cell phone it is thought not to be safe at the school) or establishing rules and designing traffic to preserve healthy (physically and culturally) lifestyles for kids attending a school.

They could request that authorities set up a police patrol speed trap near the school once a month, boost ticket rates with school zones.

They could maybe try and have the buses and cars sue a different entrance than cyclists and walkers.

But they shouldn’t tell kids and their families not to bike or walk to school. Car culture can not be the end all be all of our travel value system.