Learning to walk (to school) again

Posted on March 3, 2012

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This is a big subject, the sort of thing I’ve always wanted to cover in this blog. We all know how traffic eases during half-terms and other school holidays, with various knock-on effects, not only shorter commutes for some people. But there is a real argument to say that cutting out petrol-powered school runs more often is a specific goal worth going after.

I know for some people that isn’t an option – you might live far away from a school or preferred school (I’m not saying no choice of schools for your kids!). But for lots of people laziness or fear means extra car miles.

I live with my family in a neighbourhood that is both controlled by a permit scheme for parking and doesn’t have through roads – so 10 roads or so, maybe quarter of a mile square, are enclosed. At one corner of this square is a tube station, from which a lot of people commute.

You guessed it. Some people drive to park near the tube station. It’s about a 10min walk to get to those spaces from the farthest point in the neighbourhood. Ten minutes maximum I’d add, from personal experience.

People do this because they know there is a good chance of an all-day parking space, since you need a local permit. They also do it because they’re lazy.

I doubt they have any concept of how short journeys can damage their car engines over time –  though they must know just how expensive petrol is now.

Schools have ‘Walk to school weeks’. They seem to go pretty well. Why not have a week once a year where parents are told to drive in, guilt-free – in other words all other times are walk-to-school times?

Finally, a small story on this. It’s not mine but from an old workmate. He left his house in north London to do a similar 10-min walk to his nearest station, which is right by a local primary school. His neighbour loaded her two kids into her car at the same time he slammed his front door, to head to said school. Just as she opened her car door to deliver her boys she saw Jim walk by.

“I should have got you to bring them to school!” she half-joked.

Or you could have just walked yourself,” he felt like saying.

Walk to School Week takes place at the end of May this year in the UK. This site has more details – http://www.walktoschool.org.uk/ .

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Posted in: Family, Hyperlocal