Sun editorial: More walking, less riding as school year starts again
August 25, 2012
Whenever the school year starts, the screams from parents begin. Getting kids to and from school is a nightmare.
Take Mount Vernon as an example: We witnessed the mess of cars trying to drop off kids at Washington Elementary on the first day of school. And we witnessed the line of vehicles stretching from 10th Avenue to Gary's Foods as people tried to get to the middle and high schools.
Most people take it in stride. It's part of the "being patient" stuff of life - like waiting in line to check out at the grocery store. You get through it.
We also think our local school districts do their best to get kids to and from school - with safety as the No. 1 priority and efficiency as a distant second.
In other words: There's no huge problem.
But there are ways to battle the irritation.
Parents could lobby their school boards for more in-town bus pickups. For instance, in Mount Vernon a bus stops just before 8 a.m. at the First Street Community Center. More kids could take that - and parents could still drop their children "off at school." A few other stops like that - or even just one - could cut the number of vehicles going to and from school by a dozen or more.
That's a solution that's worth a shot.
We really like the idea that parents in some school districts - including in Iowa City - have implemented. It's the walking school bus.
That's the 2000s verbiage for something most of us did as kids. You gathered with the neighborhood kids - typically informally - and walked to school as a group. There's safety in numbers. It makes parents feel less anxious. And kids are more likely to walk if there's group-think saying it's the thing to do.
More formally, some communities organize walking school buses - getting kids to meet at a particular place at a particular time to trek to school. Parent volunteers join them. We could see that happening in Lisbon and Mount Vernon, where parents are highly engaged, like to organize things around their kids, and enjoy a little fitness. (There's an entire website dedicated to this trend - www.walkingschoolbus.org.)
A final thought: Lots of kids would love to ride bikes to school, but often the route is treacherous. Get involved in city governments, which work on projects like trails and sidewalks.