Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bike Week: Going Green

Biking to work in Southern California poses some formidable hurdles for many people, so although I'll advocate for two wheel transit whenever possible, I'm not an idiot when it comes to the reality that most of us face. But there is another group of could be, would be, should be peddlers that in bygone years, regularly traversed our streets. That societal pocket of which I speak is the under 18 crowd that used self-generated locomotion as the primary locomotion to get to and from school. For those of us who remember thirty years ago, students routinely walked or biked to school. In 1972, a Department of Transportation study listed the percentage of all youth (5-18) walking/biking to school at 42%. And for those kids who lived within a mile of school the percentage was a whopping 87%. In 2001, those percentages had fallen to only 15% of all school-age kids walk/bike to school and even for those living within a mile of school, only 63% walk/bike.

Rather than delve into the numerous reasons parents might cite for not having their children "take" themselves to school, I'm going to plug-in numbers so we can glimpse the cost of our choice.

For a school that is 2.5 miles away:
driving miles/day= 10 miles
total school days= approx. 180
driving miles/school year=1800
@ $3.50/gallon and 20mpg= $315/school year
@ $4.00/gallon and 20mpg= $360/school year
**total miles from Kindergarten to 8th grade=16,200.
**total cost of fuel from K-8= $2,835 ($3.50/gallon)
**not included: vehicle maintenance, time, air quality, childhood obesity, car insurance

I'll leave you with this piece of data: 50% of children hit by cars near schools are hit by cars driven by parents of students (USDOT study).


Garrett Sawyer said...
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Garrett Sawyer said...

I always had to walk to school except when I went to Diamond Ranch or Park West. I took the bus to those schools. I was happy to walk or bike but during the summer it's kind of not fun, it's also no fun when it rains. I think i've had two bikes stolen at schools here in Pomona, so that's not really the best choice though some kids manage to keep their bikes for at least a whole school year before it gets stolen or vandalized around here. It might have changed, some of the kids I've seen around here seem smarter now-a-days and more mature so who knows, maybe bikes don't get stolen or messed up as much now. Bikes work for elementary, possibly junior high, forget about high school if the high school is in a bad area. College has bike potential, and work is totally fine to ride a bike to. I don't have much opinion on shopping or entertainment trips on bikes because not every place has a bike rack.

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't have much to add to the discussion since I have been out of school for 25 years....but I always rode a bike to school. Pat Nixon grade school was at the end of the block. Haskell Jr High was roughy two miles away & Gahr High was a whopping 5 miles but could be cut down if you walked the railroad tracks. (I grew up in Cerritos)
I am starting to sound like a parent from an older generation.... "I walked to school up hill both ways through the snow!"

Garrett Sawyer said...

Mark- If it were statements from grandparents it would be something like...

"I had to walk up hill both ways in the snow, and that was after walking 25 miles to walk my brothers and sisters to school in the snow with my bare feet because not many had shoes then, if they did...they had to wear ther' parents old shoes with barbed wire for shoe laces with the holes all tarred up. It wasn't fun to step in horse poop with out any shoes. Did I mention I had to work on m'dad's good friend Henry's dairy and had to be ther' b'fore 4, for all you lazy kids...that's way b'fore the roosters get a crowin' and ain't nob'dy watchin' any CARtoooons..." lol!

Ed said...

Lincoln elementary usually has about 3 bikes in its rack, but there is larger number of kids who walk. Cortez elementary has a steady flow of cars and only one kid who rides a bike.

I wonder what we've lost by routinely just stepping out of the house and into a car. What happens to the local schools? the local businesses? the livability of a city? Lincoln Park is filled with walkers, but how many cross Alvarado? How many ride bikes to 2nd street or even to the Farmer's market? Do parents feel safe having their children ride bikes? Is crime more likely or less likely when people hunker down in their cars?