I've got a new way to walk... to school that is!
October 5, 2010 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Leave the car at home and take to the streets using your feet! Tomorrow is International Walk to School Day. Find out who and where they're walking Maybe there's a walking school bus or a bike train near you! And why not keep the momentum going and learn about Safe Routes to School in the US or Safe Routes to School in Canada posted by vespabelle (31 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Excellent. I live a mile away from the school where I work and they're paving the road between here and there. So, good excuse to go walk anyhow. Thanks for the post.
posted by jessamyn at 10:03 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

OMG this totally gets my goat. So many kids get driven to school around here in the Bay Area 'burbs. My kids can get to school in the time it takes most cars to get fro the parking lot entrance to the drop-off area. So much wasted gas idling...
posted by GuyZero at 10:06 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh good, I actually have class tomorrow. Unfortunately, it's 6.5 miles from my apartment to school.

I rode my bike last week when the weather was nice. It was actually quite a relief to get some exercise after sitting in a lecture hall for almost four hours straight.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:12 AM on October 5, 2010

This would make a bit more sense in the spring. Weather is terrible right now.
posted by smackfu at 10:13 AM on October 5, 2010

We'll walk tomorrow if we don't have the drenching rain we've been plagued with recently!
posted by Biblio at 10:16 AM on October 5, 2010

No pressure.
posted by kneecapped at 10:20 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

i just put the address of my school into google maps and clicked the "walking instructions" button. 45 minutes. however, i don't think the instructions take into account the public access stairs on james st. that connect lower hamilton with the "mountain." i wonder if there is a magical way to include this somehow...
posted by janepanic at 10:29 AM on October 5, 2010

I bike from Vancouver, WA into Portland, OR for work occasionally. It's always a huge moral boost when I hit bike traffic in Portland and there are 50+ people to ride with. Peer pressure for biking is a wonderful thing.
posted by LoudMusic at 10:29 AM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Does it count if I bus part way?
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on October 5, 2010

we walk every day to school.

the end.
posted by liza at 11:06 AM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's only a mile and a half to my daughter's school. Unfortunately, that mile and a half consists primarily of main roads without sidewalks plus a rather twisty side street jammed with buses and parents driving their kids to school. Unfortunately, I do usually drive her to school, but only because my town's superintendent made a giant mess of the buses this year and they still haven't been fixed.
posted by Ruki at 11:07 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also a consideration: Walking distances with 3-6 year olds come with at least a x3 modifier.
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on October 5, 2010

When my son was in school, no one could walk because the township that we lived in had no sidewalks. As far as I could tell, that was by design and anyone who I complained to about the lack of walk-ability would look at me like I was nuts. "Why would you want to walk?"
posted by octothorpe at 11:51 AM on October 5, 2010

"...anyone who I complained to about the lack of walk-ability would look at me like I was nuts. 'Why would you want to walk?'"

That's the nut of the problem right there. People are so dependent on cars (in most parts of North America, at least), that walking anywhere seems counter-intuitive at best. Events like this highlight the problem nicely, and hopefully get people talking about rebuilding suburbs with the person in mind, rather than the car.
posted by spoobnooble at 12:08 PM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yay for walking! My son (age 7) keeps bugging me to walk to school one day. We usually car-pool, but maybe we'll do this tomorrow! It's 1.5 mi so it might be a bit tough on the car-pool mates.
posted by Mister_A at 12:18 PM on October 5, 2010

I bike with my son to school (through rush hour traffic on the cusp of downtown) every morning. On the one or two times I've driven him to school, parking has just been a horrendous gong show. Not sure if we will persevere during the winter rains, but, then again, why not?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:54 PM on October 5, 2010

Ruki, I'll see you at the School Committee meeting at the library tonight. I really do wish it was possible to walk to school around here, but the winding, steep, curbless roads are barely safe to drive on, much less walk.

(As soon as I read your post my blood pressure spiked that another town was suffering like we are, then I saw your name and smiled in recognition.)

As a sixth grader, pairs of us were tasked with walking home a small group of local Kindergarteners. We had awesome roage flags and cool belts. Does any town still do this?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:28 PM on October 5, 2010

I will say it is amazing how much effort it takes to add sidewalks. It's been a summer-long project to do one street in our town.
posted by smackfu at 1:47 PM on October 5, 2010

My daughter and I walk to the local school most days. Walkability was one of the reasons we chose this neighbourhood to buy a house in. Unfortunately program realignment because of declining enrolment (IE: school closures) means that she then boards a bus to get driven across town to the nearest immersion school. So it's more of a moral victory.
posted by Mitheral at 2:14 PM on October 5, 2010

When I was a little kid, walking to and from school was often the best part of the day. You'd run into other kids and play along the way, or enjoy feeling independent (at that age you're not alone very often). Sometimes I'd pretend I was a spy or a soldier behind enemy lines and cut through back yards and gardens to try and avoid being seen by anyone. Or I'd get distracted looking for bugs or something. I always felt sorry for the kids who had to take the bus, partly because I heard stories about how much bullying went on there but also because the bus seemed boring. Of course, I was lucky enough to grow up a ten minute walk away from school in a quiet neighborhood without much traffic in a mid-sized town....
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:32 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I walk to school! But I work there, and I'm 26. I couldn't have walked to the nearest school when I was growing up - I don't remember the distance, but there were no sidewalks.
posted by madcaptenor at 3:48 PM on October 5, 2010

There's no pedestrian access between our house and our school. :( At one point there's not only no footpath, there's not even a verge. Argh! Why BCC why?!? If not for the pedestrians than at least for the cyclists who seem to be regularly living on a knife's edge between the armco and the traffic.
posted by adamt at 3:49 PM on October 5, 2010

I walked to and from school today. It's sort of neat doing that here because it's a rural school and a lot of other people, mostly kids, are doing it too. Our town is also getting sidewalks which has been taking most of the summer.
posted by jessamyn at 3:50 PM on October 5, 2010

My classes tomorrow are at a campus (Laney) that's directly across town and downhill from me. Walking would take more than an hour each way. The bus is about the same. Biking takes about 25 minutes to get there and at least 45 minutes to get back. Driving takes 10 to 20 minutes each way, including patrolling the parking lot for an open space.

Tonight, my class is at a campus (Merritt) that's about two miles away as the crow flies, and is at about the same altitude as my home. Walking would take much more than an hour each way, because all routes are indirect and have significant elevation changes. There is essentially no bus: Getting there would require several transfers and at least two hours, and getting back is impossible because it's a night class. Biking would not be safe. Driving takes seven minutes each way.

My school has four campuses. For the four years before I had a car, two of them, Merritt and Alameda, were simply not accessible to me. The other two, Laney and Berkeley, were only possible because because I live at a somewhat-reasonable walking distance -- 3/4 of a mile and about 200 feet of total elevation change -- from a bus route that goes straight to Laney and a BART station that's on the same line as Berkeley.

My part of town is extremely pedestrian- and bike-unfriendly. There are no sidewalks. The roads are often only wide enough for one car. Bike lanes would be a joke. The roads are steep, twisty, and frequently have huge dropoffs with no guard rails on one side and the side of a hill on the other. There are hardly any streetlights. People, in my neighborhood, that walk as a means of everyday transportation are seen as deviants. I have had the cops stop me on my way home simply because I was on foot for a reason other than recreation. I think someone must have called them; the police do not patrol this area.

I got my driver's license last December when I realized that I had to take a class at Alameda. Walking takes at least 90 minutes each way, the bus isn't much shorter, biking is about 30 minutes there and 60 minutes back, driving is 15 to 25 minutes, depending on traffic. So I started driving. And I love it. I don't have to carry around spare socks on my way to work in case I step in a puddle, I don't have to carry around a flashlight, I don't have to hike around all day with three classes' worth of books in my bag, and I actually, really, truly, enjoy driving. It's fun.

I didn't have to not drive. I could have gone in and got my license four years ago, but I chose not to, and I chose with full knowledge that not driving would be inconvenient. I never had a good explanation for the people who asked why I didn't drive. Looking back, it was probably because I wanted to understand why people were asking that question at all: Why is driving seen as the norm? Why is it strange if you choose not to drive? Well, I got my answer: Because, in this part of town, driving is by far the most convenient form of transportation.

I wish that wasn't the case. But it is, and it's unlikely to change because the people in this neighborhood can afford to drive. If everyone here walked and took public transportation tomorrow, they would say "Well, I'm never doing that again!" and get right back in their cars on Thursday. In other neighborhoods, in other cities, a walk to school/work day might be a success, and it might help get people out of their cars. But here? It'll just reinforce the dominance of the automobile. It's a Catch-22: Without adequate public transportation people won't ride, and without ridership public transportation won't expand into this part of the city.

I love driving. But I hate that I'm essentially being forced to drive. I want a better option, but there isn't one. So I drive, and I love it and I hate it and when I see people walking or waiting for the bus I want to pull over and give them a lift because I know how much it sucks but I don't because maybe they're still fighting fight that I surrendered last December and now I'm the enemy even though I don't want to be. I need to fucking move.
posted by clorox at 5:47 PM on October 5, 2010

janepanic -- You can manually enter in a route at this website which will give you distance, but no time estimate.
posted by spiderskull at 7:42 PM on October 5, 2010

clorox: I don't know much of the history of the Oakland hills, but I kind of have the sense that people wouldn't live in the hills if they had to get there under their own power. I know I wouldn't, which is why I don't live in the hills.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:46 PM on October 5, 2010

thanks, spiderskull. i guess my question was more "how do i add a feature to [map] that is specific to the city i live in that the map maker doesn't seem to have taken into account?"
posted by janepanic at 10:15 AM on October 6, 2010

oh, well i guess i could just email google and ask them...
posted by janepanic at 10:17 AM on October 6, 2010

They definitely have bike paths that get used if you choose a bike route. They might also be used for the walking directions?
posted by smackfu at 10:38 AM on October 6, 2010

Pedestrian-only pathways are still an issue with Google Maps in general. You an get walking directions and then use the "report a Problem" link in the bottom-right to notify Google of the issue that a better route exists. I've gotten maps corrected this way.
posted by GuyZero at 11:19 AM on October 6, 2010

Well, we weren't really intending to, but we started late and missed a connecting bus and so India and I walked most of the way to school today. And then after I dropped her off I walked all of the way back. Which is nice.
posted by Artw at 11:54 AM on October 6, 2010

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