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Old 05-04-2009, 04:26 PM   #21
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My 11 YO is wanting to ride his bike to school when we move.... and I am willing to do it until he goes to middle school which is located on a major roadway...

When I was growing up, we walked to all classes except kindergarten... or rode our bikes if they had not been stolen... the longest was 2 miles (which was just one house shy of being able to take the bus) for middle school... we walked past two major streets and also took shortcuts through the small 'ranches' that were still around... not fun when a bull is running after you, which is the worst thing that happened my whole time...
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Old 05-04-2009, 05:39 PM   #22
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Our neighborhood elementary school has a high percentage of walkers, but also a lot of parents drive and drop their kids off. This sort of blows my mind because our school is located in the geographic center of a rectangular neighborhood. The 'hood is about 1 mile long by 3/4 mile wide. No part of the neighborhood is more than 1/2 mile from the school, and there are sidewalks on EVERY road. No major roads have to be crossed (they form the outer boundaries of the neighborhood). There are lots of marked crosswalks and 4-way stops in the hood.

But still, there's two blocks of cars outside the school for pick up and drop off. I don't get it, either.

Now, to get to the middle school kids have to cross a 5-lane road without a traffic light or stop sign (there's one of those "sorta" pedestrian crosswalks with flashing lights, but I'm not betting my kids' life on one of those, watching how folks around here drive), and that school draws from a much larger geographical area. We'll see how things go when the kids are old enough to go there.
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Old 05-04-2009, 05:47 PM   #23
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op do you have any kids? Have you read news lately? You might say the probability is small but what if it is your kid?
I have never read anything that indicates stranger abduction is any more common today than in the fifties. The 24x7 national news cycle inflates the perception of danger. It is like this swine flu nonsense. 13,000 people have died in the US due to seasonal flu so far this year. Yet schools are closed all over because of swine flu with a handful of deaths in Mexico and one toddler in the US - it is unrealistic fear.

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I was once stuck behind a school bus on its morning route while it was picking up students. The bus stopped, picked up two children and proceeded less than two hundred yards before arriving at the elementary school where they disembarked.
I was going to suggest that rather than wait in a lengthy queue, the parents could drop the kids off around the corner but I guess that isn't acceptable either.
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Old 05-04-2009, 05:50 PM   #24
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Our neighborhood elementary school has a high percentage of walkers, but also a lot of parents drive and drop their kids off. This sort of blows my mind because our school is located in the geographic center of a rectangular neighborhood. The 'hood is about 1 mile long by 3/4 mile wide. No part of the neighborhood is more than 1/2 mile from the school, and there are sidewalks on EVERY road. No major roads have to be crossed (they form the outer boundaries of the neighborhood). There are lots of marked crosswalks and 4-way stops in the hood.

But still, there's two blocks of cars outside the school for pick up and drop off. I don't get it, either.
Based on your description i'm assuming you live in a fairly well-off area. I think, as another person mentioned earlier, it has a lot to do with some parents feeling like "poor people take the bus". I think, for the most part, the people who try to "keep up with the Joneses" are the same people who will drive there kids 1/2 mile to school in a neighborhhood like yours.
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Old 05-04-2009, 06:47 PM   #25
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When my kids were in grade school they walked back and forth to school. I suspect the sitter often walked part of the way but after a certian point they were in clear view for blocks and would have joined up with other students.

Bussing was provided for middle school. It was a mad-house. More than once kids were kicked off the bus for behavior issues. The location was out of the way (for us), car pooling would have been the only practical alternative.

Getting to high school was a slam dunk, the city bus came within two blocks of home and dropped them off at the school door.

With the current cost of fuel I think school districts are taking a long hard look at their transportation policies. The problem is that along the way the districts have designed their programs around larger facilities and as a result serve larger areas which require transportation.
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Old 05-04-2009, 08:30 PM   #26
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Several have commented on busy streets near the school.

One phenomenon we have here in the land of minimal land use planning is that the developers of large subdivisions seem to intentionally avoid planning for a school in the interior of the "master planned" property. Instead, they leave plenty of vacant tracts around the busy perimeter for commercial or multi-family development.

When the school district comes around looking for new school sites, the developer is usually quite happy to give him a "good deal" on a piece of the commercial frontage. The developer comes out ahead in two ways. He gets twice the dollars by selling premium land to the school district (vs. an interior tract, though he might gets a bit less than he might have for commercial development.) More important, he gets to use the presence of the new school at the front door of the subdivision as a marketing advantage over the next neighborhood down the road.

Later, when the attendance boundaries are drawn, the typical result is that the parents of a bunch of kids who live close to the school don't judge it to be accessible via a safe walking route. So they drive Junior three blocks, cross the busy street in the car and join the carpool line.

Some school districts are truly myopic when it comes to providing options for walkers. At the extreme, one local district pulled all of their crossing guards a few years ago. Their rationale was that since they offer free bus service available to every child (no matter the distance from the school), they couldn't afford the "double" expense of providing for walkers, too.
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Old 05-04-2009, 08:30 PM   #27
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Several times a year, my neighborhood school goes into lockdown because of a creepy or drug addled stranger threatening people in the area. The school my kids attend has a bus stop next to a park known for anonymous sexual activity - and the kind of people attracted to such a park. To walk from my house to school, kids would have to travel through some nice neighborhoods and some known for racial tension and gang violence - typically in the papers every month for a teenager shot there.

Yes, I walked to school (and rode my bike and sometimes took a bus) and sometimes it was pretty far. I'm sorry we don't live in a place where that is possible for my kids. I think almost every child I know is either accompanied to school, to the bus stop or dropped off by car. It seems absurdly risky not to have an adult with them to try to evaluate situations and make safe decisions.
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:55 PM   #28
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I'm a school crossing guard, so here's my perspective.

I think the idea of walking to and from school is great. It's exercise, time to be with friends, wind down from the school day and experience some independence. But the reality of it is that for many it's just too risky.

My current corner is 2 blocks from the elementary school and it's a crossing point for kids in the neighborhood beyond the neighborhood where the school is. The speed limit is 25 mph but the street is a boulevard that runs about 2 miles from one major street across to the other side of town to another major street. There are no stops or lights the full length. So cars go by at about 35 mph or more. We have a stop sign at the cross street but it seems to be an "optional" stop sign, especially for the high school kids on their way home.

Kids pass a "Beer Garden" and a "Bar and Grill", a laundromat and a couple of closed businesses on their way to school. There's also a 24 hour convenience store that gets a lot of foot traffic for local folks to get their beer any time of day. On the next side street there's a registered sex offender.

During the winter very few of the sidewalks are shoveled or even salted. I've seen kids in inappropriate clothing for the winter, no boots or hats, trying to walk on the sidewalk and giving up and walking in the street. The ones who stay on the sidewalk have snow up to their knees. They must be really wet when they get to school.

In my town you're bussed only if you live more than 1.5 miles for elementary grades. There used to be no busing for middle school but we recently closed one of the 3 middle schools so they do bus some students now. There is no busing for the high school.

When the weather is decent we do get a lot of parents who walk with their kids, which is nice. As soon as the weather changes most of them go back to driving the kids.

I used to work at a corner right at the elementary school. An earlier poster was right, many schools were built in a time when not that many parents drove their kids and there is not enough parking for all the parents who drop off and pick up. There were parents who would drive to the school at pickup 45 minutes early just to be sure they could get a parking space! Others would circle the school 2 or 3 times until they saw their kid and then have them run out and jump in the car.

From my point of view the most dangerous part of the whole school traffic situation is parents on a cell phone. That's how most "near misses" happen, parents trying to drive, listen to a kid and talk on the phone at the same time. If a driver was on a cell phone I just held pedestrians back until they passed.

The other scary thing for parents is the idea of a kid getting snatched. I think there are predators out there, but statistically the number is very small. It only takes one, in your neighborhood to scare everyone. I don't think every incident is a predator out to grab a kid, I think more of them are someone who sees an opportunity and acts. All it takes is a kid alone, looking distracted and innocent and the wrong kind of person taking advantage of them.

In my town we work for the Police Department, not the school system. And we are supposed to report incidents. Last year I called in to report a man who paid for a 6 year old's candy bar at the convenience store and then followed the kid all the way to my corner, calling after him and trying to catch up to him. That just seemed odd and even though it turned out to be nothing, if it was my child, I'd want to know about it.

Retirement related - Up until right before I got hired the Crossing Guards were all city employees and paid into the state Public Employees pension system. By the time I started they changed it and all the newer guards are hired through a temp employment company just so they can pay us through a non-city payroll so that we aren't in the pension system, we pay into SS. That worked out good for me because I needed to complete my SS credits. There is a Crossing Guard who has been doing this for 33 years and when she retires she'll get a small pension.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:16 AM   #29
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Driving kids two blocks to school in a gas-guzzling minivan? I can't wait for the smack-down between the soccer moms and the eco-terrorists!
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:03 AM   #30
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Different time for sure .In my entire schooling i never got a lift or a bus to school ,it was always walking,fortunately my parents would buy houses fairly close to the school but todays kids can live miles away from school so transportation is needed and in my case its less worrying during the day if i drive the kids to school.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:03 AM   #31
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We were the crossing guards in 8th grade - you got the privilege of riding your bike to school if you served. I only got to do it a few times as a sub because I was a goof off and the gym teacher in charge bared me. Don't any school systems continue to use older kids or did that practice get litigated away?
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:26 AM   #32
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There is no way that I would allow my children or my grandchildren to walk to school alone.
Ha
I have neither, but I totally agree with Ha. Young people walking would have to face school age bullies or gangs, road traffic, cars with half asleep drivers rapidly exiting driveways, bad weather, dogs running loose, human predators, gunfire in some cases...
As far as the bus stopping at every house goes, we used to congregate in a neighbor's driveway. She was the designated adult supervisor and was glad to do so for our collective safety and to ensure all the kids actually got on the bus. There were several of these bus stops in our development, spaced about every 15 houses.
Today's version seems to be stopping at every single house, which causes tremendous wear and tear on the buses. No sidewalks and deep snow are a big factor here, so it makes sense.
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:43 AM   #33
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I have never read anything that indicates stranger abduction is any more common today than in the fifties. The 24x7 national news cycle inflates the perception of danger. It is like this swine flu nonsense. 13,000 people have died in the US due to seasonal flu so far this year. Yet schools are closed all over because of swine flu with a handful of deaths in Mexico and one toddler in the US - it is unrealistic fear.

OH, probably not reported much, but that toddler WAS from Mexico... he or she was sent to Houston because they were visiting relatives in the US when they were sick...
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:45 AM   #34
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We were the crossing guards in 8th grade - you got the privilege of riding your bike to school if you served. I only got to do it a few times as a sub because I was a goof off and the gym teacher in charge bared me. Don't any school systems continue to use older kids or did that practice get litigated away?
In our school system, they banned that about 15 years ago. I guess they feared litigation if something happened. Heck, I was a school crossing guard in middle school........
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:16 AM   #35
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In elementary school we had students who were crossing guards but they were actually just a specialized wing of the brutally oppressive collaborators known as safety patrols.

Classmates by day, but before and after they would don the bright orange belt that signified membership in the terror regime... blowing whistles and gleefully shouting out threats of "I'm gonna report you" for such minor infractions as running, placing each other in full-nelsons, or throwing fruit towards peers.

I think they were mostly 6th graders but a few 5th graders were allowed in, likely because they showed exceptional affinity to the safety patrol dogma and were tagged as fast risers and potential future leaders in the cadre.
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:23 AM   #36
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In elementary school we had students who were crossing guards but they were actually just a specialized wing of the brutally oppressive collaborators known as safety patrols.

Classmates by day, but before and after they would don the bright orange belt that signified membership in the terror regime... blowing whistles and gleefully shouting out threats of "I'm gonna report you" for such minor infractions as running, placing each other in full-nelsons, or throwing fruit towards peers.

I think they were mostly 6th graders but a few 5th graders were allowed in, likely because they showed exceptional affinity to the safety patrol dogma and were tagged as fast risers and potential future leaders in the cadre.
Sounds like I was part of the "schoolyard mafia"......

"Quit running, or you next recess will be your LAST"!!
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:25 AM   #37
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In our school system, they banned that about 15 years ago. I guess they feared litigation if something happened. Heck, I was a school crossing guard in middle school........
I was a crossing guard in the fifth and sixth grade... a coveted posting; we were allowed to be 15 minutes late for class, because we had to walk half a mile to school from our posts after the last kids passed, stow our crossing poles/ flags/sashes before reporting to class. You had to have good grades to qualify, since you were missing the first few minutes of school each day. It was a great experience, but in retrospect I guess I should have contacted a lawyer from the back of the phone book who specialized in child-labor issues, organized a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all the underage crossing guards against the school, the city, our parents and the manufacturer of the crossing poles for exploiting us without pay; putting us in harms way by exposing us to sexual predators, bullies, drunk drivers, and distracted soccer moms in Rambler station wagons; making us walk to school in inclement weather; and depriving us of 15 minutes of education daily...

Of course, my most vivid memory was the nice lady who brought me out a cup of hot chocolate one windy, cold January morning in a silk bathrobe that wouldn't quite close...
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:35 AM   #38
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Oh, and I forgot, that yes, there is a LINE of parents waiting to drop their kids off ON CAMPUS at the HIGH SCHOOL! I can't believe it! I don't have the patience or inclination...
It's all relative... My kid is riding a bus now, but once in high school (unless something changes) I will be doing the drop-off (or some type of car-pool).

Our local high school is very close, less than 2 min by car, but it's on a stretch of the road I am afraid to walk on (very narrow, people zoom by, nowhere to hide or jump out of way) - so, walking is out of question. Taking the bus back home should not be a problem, but on the way to school they get picked up at 6:15 AM and are on the bus for more than one hour (picking up other kids).

... I forgot to mention, the high school is on the way to any/all major roads, so it's also on the way to work or anywhere else I may need to go (no special trip needed).
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:48 AM   #39
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Of course, my most vivid memory was the nice lady who brought me out a cup of hot chocolate one windy, cold January morning in a silk bathrobe that wouldn't quite close...
Nice.......
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Old 05-05-2009, 10:05 AM   #40
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We still have elementary aged kids directing traffic at our neighborhood elementary school. It is unfortunate though - half the time those kids are waving the flags around like they are flag twirler girls during half time of a football game. I basically ignore them, slow down, avoid hitting them if they are in the middle of the road, and avoid pedestrians.
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