Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Walking to School

It was a goal of mine this school year for my girls to walk to their elementary school from our house. Several things need to happen before we will be there, and we are making progress towards that goal. We live one mile from the elementary school in a residential neighborhood and my daughters are in the first and third grade.

I am car-pooling with a neighbor who has one child in middle school with mine and one in the elementary school with my daughters. On the mornings I take the elementary school route, she takes my son to the middle school, thus giving me enough time to walk with my girls and her son. So far, we have driven to where the sidewalk begins and walked from there (about another block from her house). That has worked out nicely, but I am still walking with them. I don't really mind – I enjoy the walk – but it would be nice for them to walk alone.

Part of the issue is making sure that my friend is comfortable with her son walking. We aren't quite sure we totally trust our children to walk straight to school in a timely manner, which is why I'm walking with them for now. I assume that after awhile I won't need to keep reminding them how we are supposed to walk.

Secondly, though, is the entrance to the school. The sidewalk to the school is very safe and the few streets it crosses are very little traveled. But, the sidewalk ends at the edge of the schoolyard and the only way from there to the school entrance is across car traffic with no crossing guards. I hate to ask the school to provide a crossing guard if my children are the only ones walking, so I keep going with them. There is an assistant principal who watches out for them, but he is positioned across the yard from them. Maybe if I can convince more people to walk, we might get a real crossing guard. One other friend that I know of is now walking from the end of the sidewalk. Maybe in time others will join us.

I am also working with the city to improve the safety of walking along the street without a sidewalk. There is a stretch of about one block that doesn't have a sidewalk or even much of a side to the street and is on a fairly well-traveled road. I have spoken with city officials about a speed limit sign. The next step would be a better crosswalk. There are two hotels in development another block down the road and the city engineer is supposed to be getting back to me so that I can see what the plans are for road changes for that development and to see how we can make improvements for safe walking part of it.

Another obstacle is the weather. It's still too hot to attempt to walk home and not every morning is cool enough to walk, but some are. I enjoy those mornings when we do walk and lots of parents see us and wave on the street.

But, we are making progress and I'm glad that we are.

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