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Two wheels bad, four wheels good
February 25, 2013 4:18 AM   Subscribe

Following a parent-governor meeting at North Downs Primary School last Thursday, pupils will be banned from cycling and walking to two primary school sites over fears it would be too dangerous.
posted by unSane (49 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This may make cycling and walking more popular, ultimately.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:30 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's worth noodling around on Google streetview to see the terrifying roads the children would be risking their lives on.
posted by unSane at 4:35 AM on February 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is Surrey we are talking about; silver Mercedes or GETTHEFUCKOUT.
posted by zemblamatic at 4:36 AM on February 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


What's funny to me is that I walked home because my mom refused to let me ride school busses. She was convinced - and I agree with her - that they were death traps. No seatbelts, no interior frame above the windows, no emergency hatches on the roof, seats that were vinyl draped over aluminum tubing... The list goes on...
I'd much rather any child I have parental influence on walk or bike than drive or be bussed.
posted by strixus at 4:36 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's interesting about this is that there's a complete assumption that all the kids in this school come from families with a car.

In the US I guess that sounds normal, but in the UK that's completely new to me. I would have assumed that any primary school would have a subset of poorer kids with no access to a car.

Some research suggests that this school is in a very wealthy and rural area, so maybe not.

In any case, that Google Street View image of the road doesn't tell you anything about how safe it is to cycle on when half the population of the village is driving down it to pick up their kids. I wonder whether they couldn't just ban driving kids to school and mandate walking or cycling, to achieve the same effect.
posted by emilyw at 4:44 AM on February 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


The school will be paying for taxis for kids who can't be driven by their parents.
posted by unSane at 4:46 AM on February 25, 2013


I personally doubt that the school has the power to determine how pupils travel to school, although they probably can ban bikes from the school grounds.
posted by pharm at 4:46 AM on February 25, 2013


I'd be hesitant to allow my children to cycle on main roads, but that's because I'm a scaredy cat. It's not really any of the school's business.

I lived about a mile from my elementary school, but I didn't walk because it was on a really narrow, curvy road with no shoulder. I probably would have been fine, but my parents were worried because people used to fly around those corners without being able to see what was ahead of them. (The guy who lived around the worst corner had to replace his fence 3 or 4 times during the time I lived there). But generally speaking, banning walking is extreme.

On an unrelated note, what a beautiful town.
posted by murfed13 at 4:49 AM on February 25, 2013


It's not entirely clear what the situation is here.

It looks as if a number of pupils are being relocated to a different school (in Leigh) a few miles away. The phrase 'But the girl and her classmates will now be shifted to Leigh, for which the route is too treacherous' seems to imply that it's the route from Brockham to Leigh (about 2.5 miles on a main road) that's considered to be too risky.

You have both school governors and the parents of one of the affected children saying that it's too dangerous a route by bike. Which is kind of at odds with the message the articles are trying to put across, namely "school bans walking and cycling, is now 'car-only'".

I'm sure the reality lies somewhere in that mess, but I'm hesitant to express an opinion without knowing what's actually happening.
posted by pipeski at 4:52 AM on February 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


The main complaint seems to be that the class has been reassigned to a new location (Leigh) which would be over an hour long bike ride away from the former school. The roads around the new school might indeed not be safe for bikes (but isn't that what school zones were invented for?).

From the first link:
The father of a five-year-old girl at a primary school in Surrey has criticised a decision to ban children from cycling to school at two of its three sites on the grounds that it is too dangerous.
The same parent is quoted in the second link:
The Brockham resident said: "We wouldn't have chosen the Betchworth school if we knew this was going to happen – there'd be no way. It's just too dangerous cycling to Leigh, they would be at risk."
So he himself agrees with the school administration that the route to the Leigh school is too dangerous to bike to. It's not like the school suddenly decided not to permit biking one day. The class itself moved across town and these parents are just upset that their kids can't take a five minute ride down a country lane from their house to their school anymore.

(crossposted with pipeski)
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:54 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a rather unusual situation. The school is an amalgamation of three tiny schools, and so has three sites, each of which has only 2 or 3 classrooms This means kids are going to have to move around the different sites as they get older.

The sites are about 2 miles apart and the only way to get from one to the other involves a journey down a road, which is only just wide enough for 2 cars, and which has a 60mph speed limit and no sidewalks. I can see the potential risks if a large number of primary school age kids are travelling down that sort of road on a daily basis.

The ban was apparently agreed between the parents and school governors, so I assume that the majority of parents were in favour of it.
posted by bap98189 at 4:59 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was of primary school age before we had such newfangled contraptions like cars in the 1980ties, we were also banned from coming to school on a bike, not because it wasn't safe, but because we lived too close to school and could walk it.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:05 AM on February 25, 2013


This is pretty standard in the US. Kids who lived directly across the road from my son's elementary school weren't allowed to walk for, legitimate, fear of getting run over.
posted by octothorpe at 5:14 AM on February 25, 2013


But the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a car is a good guy with a car!
posted by Foosnark at 5:19 AM on February 25, 2013 [22 favorites]


This is pretty standard in the US. Kids who lived directly across the road from my son's elementary school weren't allowed to walk for, legitimate, fear of getting run over.

Also lawsuits
posted by sweetkid at 5:24 AM on February 25, 2013


This is sad, and ironic.

It is ironic because the area around Dorking and Reigate is a high traffic area for recreational cyclists because of the North Downs and Box Hill. This is prime cycling country, where the roads every weekend are chock full of sweaty men, and women, in lycra. This is great cycling country. These kids who can't cycle to school are missing out on the chance to participate in one of Britain's great social trends - the rise of leisure cycling.

It's sad because the school is doing what the parents want. The roads round there are busy. There is risk. The school well knows the criticism it will face if there is an accident that seriously injures or kills a child. Modern parenting and schooling attitudes are all about risk reduction, which is why the distance pre-teen children roam at playtime has shrunk from several miles to 300 yards.

The problems in independent child mobility were recognised long ago, and one of the best examples is 1990's report One False Move, which noted:
Most of this regulation and expenditure is for the benefit of people inside motor vehicles. Comparatively little money or legislative time is spent on the safety of vulnerable road users - pedestrians and cyclists.
Even back then, the study found that only half of junior schoolchildren were allowed to cross the road independently. One quarter of junior schoolchildren were allowed to ride on main roads. The study noted that 91% of junior schoolchildren owned bikes. Why don't kids travel independently? More than 40% of parents cited traffic danger, the most common answer by far. This is not a new problem. It is a longstanding problem that needs deep changes to British culture and infrastructure.

IMHO the change in attitudes towards cycling has to come out of London first to show local councils both that there is support for better road safety measures for cyclists and also to actually create the technical expertise to implement better infrastructure to separate cyclists and motor vehicles. Sadly, despite the best efforts of campaigners, the London Assembly has *just* today voted against a £41m increase in the cycling budget. I'm not a subscriber to the Tories=bad black and white view of politics, but on this one the Conservative Assembly members and Boris have screwed the pooch. For reference, this is equivalent to 3.2% of TfL's budget. Until cycling, and cycling safety, is recognised properly it is little wonder it will be both risky, and perceived as risky.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:28 AM on February 25, 2013 [18 favorites]


Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
posted by HuronBob at 5:46 AM on February 25, 2013


The school has no power to decide how pupils arrive at school (see CTC's note here).

Whatever the potential issues around school access, it's sad that the council's view of how to solve things seems to be to provide taxis, rather than to make it a safe place to walk and cycle.
posted by lucullus at 5:51 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder whether they couldn't just ban driving kids to school and mandate walking or cycling, to achieve the same effect.

Be still my beating heart, that would be so awesome. Seriously, it would. Yes, some kids may live outside of reasonable range, let them ride the bus or be driven in. The rest... amazing, simply amazing.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:04 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was once involved in my (very non-cycling friendly) state's Bicycle advocacy group (not that we were anything official or well-organized, but we didn't see anyone else doing it.

We were an uneasy mix of recreational cyclists and a few real political activists. "Safe Routes to Schools" quickly became a central issue, even though few of us were parents or really all that interested in walking anywhere, because this was seen as a lot more sympathetic public issue than lycra-clad/helmet-wearing/espresso-drinking cyclists out there getting in the way of log trucks.

Interestingly, this was several years ago, when I was a lycra-clad cyclist, and before I became the parent of 2 junior-high age children.

I feel strongly about this both ways. My predominant thinking is that this is the nanny school system at its best. Parents and their children can't be trusted with their own decisions about what to eat at lunch (so no sack lunches), the inevitable intersection of religion and sexuality (so mandatory sex education, with a big to-do over whether to even talk about self-control), and now -- we can't guarantee your safety on the roadways, so no walking or biking to school.

This state of affairs should have something in it to offend everyone, no matter how liberal or conservative you are.

My own kids are in an interesting situation - presently going to a junior high which is about 2 miles away on county roads. If you were to look at it on Google maps or to find out the traffic counts, you'd think it was a lovely cycling route, and it is, except when it's time to go to and from school. Around then, it's NASCAR Armageddon, and our kids are not bicycling or walking there. Hell, I'm nervous DRIVING there in a car with 6 air bags.

On the other hand, the high school they will be going to is about 2 blocks away. They will walk up a sidewalk and cross at a school crossing. There's even a sidewalk in the parking lot they can finish the walk up to the school itself.

And I'll be damned if anyone will tell me that I've got to drive, or have them drive, that distance.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:30 AM on February 25, 2013


After those dementor attacks in Little Whinging, I'm shocked it took this long.

#MuggleProblems
posted by dr_dank at 6:38 AM on February 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's revealing and not altogether that amazing the kneejerk reaction in this thread. Look, it's maybe 70 words into the first article when you reach

But the girl and her classmates will now be shifted to Leigh, for which the route is too treacherous. The Brockham resident said: "We wouldn't have chosen the Betchworth school if we knew this was going to happen – there'd be no way. It's just too dangerous cycling to Leigh, they would be at risk." The money-saving move by the school will see classes across the three sites cut from seven to six while also axing a teacher post.

There's also this from the second article:

Betchworth resident Paul Potter said that plans to move the site where his three grandchildren attend school would entail an hour-long journey. "I don't agree that it's going to be any better for the children and putting a five-year-old in a taxi is not a good idea," he explained. "If Surrey County Council is offering the lifts for Year One pupils, surely they can keep funding the teachers?"

This reminds me of my grade school years. My house was maybe a ten minute walk from school and the last stop on the 30+ minute bus ride back. Problem was, there were no sidewalks and the one-lane road that cut to my neighborhood was also host to the mass migration of about 2000+ kids since two elementary schools, a junior high and a high school all emptied out onto there and all the big neighborhoods were on that road. The first time I tried walking back, I got honked at a couple dozen times, almost got hit once (there was a blind spot where you couldn't walk in anybody's yard and you couldn't see very far in advance), and saw two minor car accidents. I pretty much stayed on the bus until I was 16 and could drive on my own. Never saw anybody walking and can't really blame them.

If Jared Diamond is terrified of slipping in the shower even though the chance of falling is low because he showers every single day, can you imagine sending these girls on an hour-long bike ride to school most days of the year given modern driving habits? Because it seems that the banning is the symptom of the larger economic problem that's alluded to but pretty much ignored.
posted by dubusadus at 6:45 AM on February 25, 2013


Fuck you society. I park my bike in the parking garage of my building, there are bike racks. And they have signs that say you need to get off your bike and walk it. Guess what! Fuck you! I have better handling and breaking on my bike than your shitty car, so you might as well ghostride to your parking spot. There's too many people who don't bike to expect even the most remote amount of consideration for it. Nobody in charge would be caught dead on a bike. It's all SUVs, let's optimize for that.
posted by Napierzaza at 6:54 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the solution to one dangerous road is to ban all kids from cycling?

That certainly solves it in the sense that death cures everything.
posted by unSane at 6:54 AM on February 25, 2013


God bless the UK for taking panicky ninnyism to such an extreme that my own nation of panicky ninnies doesn't always end up in the number one slot.

I know we're not supposed to speak anecdotally, because [shorthand the old man-lawn diatribe and make salient, but annoying, points about anecdata], but honestly, I rode my bike or walked to school because the buses were as perfect for bullying as a goddamn South Carolina prison yard, and my route to high school was 6.9 miles each way, largely on the broad shoulder of a road that's now become a minor highway. My bike route to my best friend's house was 7.5 miles on a road with no shoulder. Hell, I walked to and from my middle school because of Joey Decker, the miserable bully, which was just 1.7 miles, but I always took a shortcut under the powerlines, where a mean horse named Casey lived, and Casey would always chase me, and if he caught me, he'd knock me down and try to bite my ears (Casey had issues). It was four miles through the spooky hinterlands of High Ridge to town for the mall, hanging around the bus station, or my first job at Pal Jack's Pizza. We bitched about it, but if you wanted freedom, that's how you got it.

I won't say "kids these days," though, because it's not the kids. It's the parents, and the absurd belief that, despite every single statistic on child safety being massively improved since my time, the world is just too dangerous to let your kids run loose. It'll be interesting to see how this all turns out. Not good, I think, but interesting.
posted by sonascope at 7:25 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're concentrating on the wrong culprit. Who the hell authorized building a school at a location without safe provision for children to arrive on foot / bike? Have we become that car-obsessed that we don't even expect children to walk?
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:25 AM on February 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's not a dangerous road, it's a road on which it is socially acceptable to drive dangerously. (And probably socially unacceptable to drive responsibly)
posted by ambrosen at 7:28 AM on February 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


We're concentrating on the wrong culprit. Who the hell authorized building a school at a location without safe provision for children to arrive on foot / bike? Have we become that car-obsessed that we don't even expect children to walk?

The unsafe location is anywhere that their parents will drive though. The school run in most of the UK is a dangerously comical situation where everyone drives their kids to school because it is too dangerous to walk because everyone is driving their kids to school. Most UK schools do not have the kind of kiss and ride drop off loops that N.Am. schools have.

It was so bad where I lived in Birmingham, UK that I would not go out during the morning or afternoon during the school run because it both dangerous and really annoying.
posted by srboisvert at 7:32 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


About the only thing I've seen that creates an impetus for more acceptance of cycling on the public roads is increased ridership. If motorists (who only drive motor vehicles) rarely see someone on a bike they will naturally feel ownership of the roadway and public planners will do little to support infrastructure for the hypothetical bike rider who might benefit.

More kids, not let less, riding bikes is the answer. Prohibiting cycling is just a form of retreat.
posted by dgran at 7:32 AM on February 25, 2013


both dangerous and really annoying.

Well, that's Birmingham for you.
posted by forgetful snow at 7:39 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Safe travel to school isn't only an issue in the UK.

In the US, Safe Routes to School, a federally funded program to improve kids' routes to school is now it's part of the newest federal surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21 for short.

For whatever wacky reason, SRTS projects must now compete against all other transportation alternative programs, so these programs need more local advocates to keep improving kids' safe access to their schools. At least there are some things that volunteers can do, like walking buses, that cost nothing more than their time, and maybe a safety vest and a stop sign to aid crossing streets.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:40 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Agreed dgran. 10+ years of cycling in London has shown me that. When I started, cycling to work was deeply unfashionable and somewhat dangerous.

Now, with a ton more cyclists, it is much safer in my experience. Drivers accommodate cyclists better. They drive less like they own the road and accept they have to share it. With the exception of the odd black cab driver (who get too close to cyclists), some motorbike riders (who overtake you in bike lanes at 40mph) and the very occasional white van driver (who don't bother to use their mirrors) I have few problems. There are problem drivers, of course, but my experience is there are less of them. The headlines tend to be grabbed by the cyclists killed by lorries, which is still an issue but one that I think is peculiar to specific junctions and the vulnerabilities of slower riders.

Outside London, however, where commuting cycling is typically rarer (with the exception of some university towns) drivers are more prone to giving cyclists less room, deviating into cycle paths, not checking mirrors properly and driving more quickly in built up areas.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:42 AM on February 25, 2013


Muffinman: I had to read your comment a couple of times to realize that you lived in the UK. it may be worth noting that when you say "black cab driver" you really mean "licensed to operate" cab driver, and aren't referring to the skin color of the driver.
posted by el io at 7:46 AM on February 25, 2013


So the solution to one dangerous road is to ban all kids from cycling?

All kids are not being banned from cycling. And all roads surrounding a school are dangerous during the time that the kids would be cycling on them.

I understand the anger here, but the areas around schools are dangerous places at the start and end of the academic day. This is because most people drive their kids to school and the majority of schools are not designed to cope with that fact. Since redesigning the schools and road access to them is hugely impractical, what are the governors to do? I agree that a society in which everyone cycles or walks to school is highly desirable, but I disagree that the governors and parents at this school should be held responsible for a general problem of UK society/infrastructure.

More kids, not let less, riding bikes is the answer. Prohibiting cycling is just a form of retreat.

Retreat seems like a reasonable option when it's your kids on the front line. I'm not a parent, but even to me saying "motorists need to see more cyclists on the road" sounds like "a few more kids being knocked off their bikes will help drivers understand". I know that's not what you are saying, but honestly I can't think there are queues of parents waiting to sacrifice their children's safety for the common good.
posted by jonnyploy at 7:49 AM on February 25, 2013


A few minutes noodling around with the school's website and googlemaps leads me to think that the map given in the fpp isn't entirely accurate. The school has three sites, out of which it's banning walking and cycling to two of them. The link in the fpp is to the one school site at which walking and cycling is still allowed.

The other sites:
Leigh Site - the road is narrow and there are no streetlights.

Betchworth Site - the road is narrow, without streetlights, and the treeline comes very close to the road cutting down on the sightlines, so the road has all but blind corners in both directions from the school gate. The gate itself is up a steep(ish) slope leading down to the road, with an adjoining hedge that renders a child approaching the road invisible to traffic oncoming from the north end of the village.

In addition, there is no dedicated parking at either site and no dedicated drop-off zones, which means that the roadways will be all but blocked by cars belonging to parents dropping off and picking up their children. In the winter, it it already getting dark by the time children leave school making visibility an issue.

The kneejerker in me wants to agree that it's ridiculous to ban walking and cycling for schoolchildren. But looking at the streetview images for those places, I'm not so sure it's such a clearcut case. Plus, it's illegal for anyone (including children) to ride on a pavement, so since there are no dedicated cyclepaths by either location, then it's the safety of a child cycling in the roadway that the school is forced to consider.
posted by talitha_kumi at 7:58 AM on February 25, 2013


Retreat seems like a reasonable option when it's your kids on the front line.

I guess what I would like to see is some action that lies between forfeiting the road to vehicle-only traffic (which means it will be ever harder to reclaim the sensible right to cycle to school) and expecting people to do dangerous things to advance a cause.

My practical, yet someone unlikely, suggestion would be that some adults make an effort to organize the kids into a group riding together with an adult rider going along. A group of kids riding single file is a safety improvement versus them being spread out. The chaperon seems only necessary to get things started and everyone would have to be sensible about not treating anyone as liable just because they are riding together in proximity.

The regulators chose the easy way be prohibiting, but it wouldn't have been too much of a stretch for them to embrace the positive aspects of cycle commuting and asked for some volunteers to help make it safer.
posted by dgran at 7:59 AM on February 25, 2013


My practical, yet someone unlikely, suggestion would be that some adults make an effort to organize the kids into a group riding together with an adult rider going along. A group of kids riding single file is a safety improvement versus them being spread out. The chaperon seems only necessary to get things started and everyone would have to be sensible about not treating anyone as liable just because they are riding together in proximity.

I like this idea too, and the school at which I am a community governor has something similar arranged for walking: a "walking bus". I'm not sure that the cycling version is as universally practical though. As mentioned above, there are just some roads in the UK which are ill-suited to cyclists as long as there are cars on them.
posted by jonnyploy at 8:10 AM on February 25, 2013


Yeah, I think the framing of this article perhaps underplays the "it's not safe" point, instead portraying it as though NannyState TM is forbidding children from rational exercise and transportation.

We live about 1.25 miles from my son's elementary school. The road we're on is a 2 lane country road, with no shoulder and no sidewalks. The speed limit on it is 55mph, and there is an insane blind curve just before where we enter the road from our neighborhood. Just a couple of blocks up, towards the school, the road opens up to a 5 lane (4 lanes+turning lanes) road, where there are sidewalks, but despite the school zones, where speeds are supposed to be 20mph, and the regular posted speed of 35mph, people fly down that road at 55mph, because they can, and because they've just come off a significantly worse road that has much higher speed; and they don't even think to slow down. Boy has to cross that street to get to his school.

We rode with a herd of our neighbor kids to school (yes, I rode with them), to check out how long it took, and how spooky it was. In the afternoons, in full sunlight; it was unnerving, because of the constant traffic; in the morning, before the sun was fully out; it was terrifying. I know bikes don't go on sidewalks, but there was absolutely no way it would have been safe to put a bunch of 6-10 year olds on that street; and even on the sidewalks, when we had to cross side streets; it was unbelievable how many people didn't even fully stop when they got to the stop sign. I'm not sure they even saw this group of kids; and I made everyone wear reflective helmets and whatnot.

So, yeah; my heart can't handle the stress of letting Boy do that trip by himself; I'd rather drive the kids to school than constantly be in fear that some asshole on a cell phone is too busy tweeting about traffic to notice he's about to run over a group of kids.
posted by dejah420 at 8:20 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


We're concentrating on the wrong culprit. Who the hell authorized building a school at a location without safe provision for children to arrive on foot / bike? Have we become that car-obsessed that we don't even expect children to walk?

In my area of the U.S., changing demographics have lead to several neighborhood schools being closed (no kids = no enrollment). As a consequence, the remaining kids in those neighborhoods have a longer trek to school while crossing busier roads.
This has, of course, increased the traffic on the roads around the remaining schools, but that's par for the course these days.

It sounds like the same sort of thing happened here, with 3 schools being consolidated into one which means some students simply will no longer be able to ride to school in a safe, timely manner.
posted by madajb at 8:30 AM on February 25, 2013


This is England. The school was probably built 50-100 years ago.
posted by unSane at 8:36 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


the absurd belief that, despite every single statistic on child safety being massively improved since my time, the world is just too dangerous to let your kids run loose

It's not just kids. If nobody had ever thought up a motorcycle before this year, can you imagine just how quickly the inventor would get shot down for trying to sell people such a blatantly unsafe death-machine? It'd be a track-only novelty; there's no way you could get one licensed to operate on public roads. I mean, there are no seatbelts! Or air bags! There's only one headlight! It's so narrow, how are people even going to see it!? People are going to die!

Or can you imagine how difficult it would be to start up a ski resort if they didn't already exist? Come along proposing to haul random everyday people up to the top of a mountain in the middle of winter, then just drop them there, expecting them to make their own way back to the base, with no supervision or safety rails or anything! - and you can bet there would be lawyers all over you right quick.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:54 AM on February 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Geez just look at the lift itself. At work I can't use a 14' ladder without being tied off and at times on a man lift I need to double tie off. And I need to get certified every three years in operation and tie off procedure.

Compare to a ski lift where no one is tied off; no seat belt; we expect people to get off and on the lift while it's moving and the safety equipment is a one size fits none bar that sort of fits over your hips. And we allow kids to ride the lift. Imagine getting that to fly on a workplace.
posted by Mitheral at 9:07 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well...people do die on motorcycles. A lot.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:25 AM on February 25, 2013


The only thing I'd be concerned about with regards to the "group cycling" idea is if one bike breaks down (flat, sprung chain, etc), which would either result in a fragmented group with one-less chaperone, or the entire group has to stop.

Otherwise, it sounds like an idea.
posted by CancerMan at 9:34 AM on February 25, 2013


Sounds like the sane and healthy option would be to ban vehicles around the school. Designate a drop off area at the nearest location that will not interfere with kids walking and biking to school for those who need or want to drive their kids, and the drop-off kids walk from there, with suitable deployment of crossing guards/lollipop ladies if it's necessary to cross any roads.

Voila, local kids can walk or bike, far away kids can be dropped off and then safely walk (better for them), problem solved. But it sounds like the people involved consider cars to have priority over all things, which is something I'm familiar with as an American.
posted by tavella at 10:04 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's worth noodling around on Google streetview to see the terrifying roads the children would be risking their lives on.

It really is. Looking at the streets right around the school in the first link, it looks like a lovely town that would be quite pleasant for cycling. the roads are pretty narrow, and all those parked cars would certainly pose risks for children on bikes, but probably nothing totally unreasonable, depending on the usual traffic patterns and driving culture.

But then it seems that the children would sometimes have to ride between that first location and Leigh. Here's the route from town to town, according to Google Maps' cycling directions. Noodling around on Google streetview, yeah, they do look like terrifying roads that I wouldn't want my 6-year-old riding 3 miles each way on. But I may be overprotective and paranoid after knowing several people who have died in cycling accidents on roads like that.
posted by The World Famous at 10:32 AM on February 25, 2013


With the exception of the odd black cab driver ... and the very occasional white van driver ... I have few problems.
...
posted by MuffinMan at 7:42 AM on February 25 [+] [!]

Muffinman: I had to read your comment a couple of times to realize that you lived in the UK. it may be worth noting that when you say "black cab driver" you really mean "licensed to operate" cab driver, and aren't referring to the skin color of the driver.
posted by el io at 7:46 AM on February 25 [+] [!]


Actually, I'm pretty sure "black cab driver" means "driver of a black cab", that is, a London taxi cab, allowed to pick up passengers at a taxi rank or when hailed in the street, as opposed to a minicab, only allowed to operate when booked previously.

And "white van driver" means "driver of a white van", the fastest vehicle on the road according to UK motoring TV show Top Gear.
posted by warwick at 12:44 PM on February 25, 2013


I am in complete agreement; wights can be very dangerous and you cannot always count on Tom Bombadil to save your arse.
posted by batou_ at 2:05 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


it may be worth noting that when you say "black cab driver" you really mean "licensed to operate" cab driver, and aren't referring to the skin color of the driver.

This is a thread about things in the UK, where everyone knows what a black cab and a white van are.
posted by pompomtom at 8:11 PM on February 25, 2013


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