September 19, 2008


Walk-to-school movement afoot across Mass. (James Vaznis, September 19, 2008, Boston Globe)

Instead, at 8:10 a.m., one of their parents looked both ways, and then led the children and a few other parents on the 10-minute walk to school. This so-called walking school bus is part of a new citywide campaign this fall that mirrors a growing effort across the state to encourage children to walk to school instead of hitching a ride with their parents.

Just persuading students to put one foot in front of the other, advocates say, could dramatically reduce school traffic jams, slim children's waistlines, and help relieve school budgets of some gas-guzzling buses. And high prices at the gas pump might just jolt parents into giving it a try.

It used to be - as any grandparent can tell you - that many students walked to school. Three miles. Uphill. Both ways. In the snow.

But then the world began changing. Neighborhood schools were abandoned in favor of buildings on the outskirts of town. Schedules got busier. Fears grew about accidents, predators, and other unforeseen threats. And children began catching a ride on a school bus or with their parents.

Just 15 percent of students today make the trip by foot, compared with 42 percent four decades ago, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Brothers and Sister Judd went to the elementary school in East Orange, NJ where The Mother taught, even as it became over 90% black--accelerated after the Newark riots and repeal of the city ordinance that required municipal employees to live in town. But when they were opening a new Middle School it just seemed too dangerous to send such a complete ofay as me to certain doom, so we moved to West range. But we couldn't get into our new house until December so for the first half of the school year The Mother dropped me at school in West Orange in the morning and I was supposed to take public transportation home in the afternoon. But not only did I have an unfortunate tendency to go to sleep on the bus and end up at the terminal in Newark, I also figured out that if I walked home I could use the fare to buy books and comic books.

A couple of years ago, just out of curiosity, I used Google Maps to figure out how far I'd been walking for that 65 cents. Turns out the shortest route is 5 miles:

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Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2008 8:06 AM
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