Thursday, October 05, 2006

Walking to school

Kids don't walk to school any more so the Dublin Transportation Office is conducting a survey so that the transport chiefs can "deliver the most sustainable transportation system possible". Uh-huh.
The use of the car to drop the kids off is one of their big concerns because of localised traffic jams it causes around schools for 20-30 minutes.

… parents and others say parents are not to blame and the problem can only be resolved through better public transport, with better footpaths and cycle lanes.
I suppose I should wait to see this survey before I comment, but I doubt it will be open to ideas about making it easier to drive kids to school. The whole point of the exercise is to try to determine how much taxpayers money should be spent on transport in a futile attempt to end the school run.

Working parents, the added the traffic (and, thus, danger) on the roads, mollycoddling, and smaller families are probably all part of the problem. These contributing factors are not going to be changed by "better public transport, with better footpaths and cycle lanes".

First of all many schools are not built along bus routes. So, unless the state is going to provide school buses – and that's buses, not bus – for every school in the state, improving public transport is not going to help much. Working parents want to see their children safely into the school's hands before they head to work. It's part of what being a parent is. Putting your 7, 8 or 9-year-old onto the 46A is not the same as putting him/her onto a school bus. Often working couples will enroll the children far from home, but near work or near a child-minder. Those children have to be driven to school too.

Mollycoddling and smaller families are also part of the problem. Many parents today are not willing to let their kids make the short walk to school in case the poor little dear should happen to get wet (it does occasionally rain here). And, there aren't as many kids with older brothers and sisters to keep an eye on them during the walk to school.

Cycle lanes sound like a great idea, but the narrowest roads are the most dangerous and also the ones least likely to have room for a safe cycle lane. And, with all the non-school traffic on the roads, is it any wonder that people are wary of letting their children bike to school.

The one phenomenon that could probably be addressed is the explosion in the number of 17 & 18-year-olds driving themselves to school. I don't know how that might be changed, but that sounds like the easiest of all the contributing factors to start with.