August 25, 2006
Unsafe Routes to School
Apparently some legislators in Pennsylvania think it's unsafe for kids to walk 1.5 miles to school. They want to reduce the radius for required school bus service to 3/4 of a mile.
I'm glad we think different here.
August 25, 2006 9:15 AM
How do "we" think here?
On that note. What do "we"/Portlanders think about the use of public transit instead of the ole' nasty yellow school busses?
I personally love the way Portland handles it, I've always saw the yellow school busses as a form of socialistic manipulation of society (kind of like public school itself). I almost wish it would become more of a trend for even smaller towns, to simply provide transit at least in the needed work hours and school hours of the day.
August 25, 2006 10:48 AM
Chris Smith Says:
Based on the groundswell of support at all levels of the community and government for the "Safe Routes to School" program, I'd say "we" think kids should be walk and bike safely to school, without necessarily needing to be packed inside a steel shell.
August 25, 2006 10:51 AM
Adron sez: "I almost wish it would become more of a trend for even smaller towns, to simply provide transit at least in the needed work hours and school hours of the day."
That's a great notion, one that has been kicked around for years. Unfortunately, the Oregon Dept. of Education has been very cool to the idea of school buses being used for any other purpose than hauling kids around, so the discussions have never gotten past the theoretical stage. It's sad, because school buses are an underused asset - sitting idle for hours every day. Plus, it's difficult to hire and keep school bus drivers because it's part-time work. Using school buses to provide transit would help alleviate this problem.
August 25, 2006 11:23 AM
Matt Picio Says:
I suppose that it's a natural progression to emphasize safety as population density increases, but it causes a quandry - is it more harmful to children to let them walk the "dangerous routes" or to remove a good chunk of the daily exercise that they get by walking to school?
It seems to me that the ideal solution would be to build sidewalks on the routes that don't have them, but not knowing the budget situation of this community in Pennsylvania, I have no idea whether that's practical.
August 25, 2006 3:22 PM
Well, there are about 100 kidnappings by strangers of children each year in the US. There are approximately 1.5 million auto accidents, ~44,000 of wich are fatal (some of which do involve pedestrians). What other dangers are children faced with that are that kind of scale? Heart disease, obesity, and these kinds of issues seem to be much larger than a terrorist threat, or am I wrong?
It seems like a chicken and egg issue as far as safety on the way to school from cars.
August 25, 2006 3:46 PM
Chris Smith Says:
Justin, we covered putting these issues into perspective in a recent post.
What I found interesting is that starting from the same issues, Portland makes it safer to walk, while Pennsylvania apparently doesn't want to try.
August 27, 2006 4:59 PM
I knew some folks that attended Benson H.S. when TriMet extended Fareless Square out to the Lloyd District. Since all the homeless, drug-addicted, etc. basically set up at Holladay Park, they no longer felt safe (even during daylight hours) being anywhere near the MAX stops they needed to use in order to get either to school in the morning, or home in the afternoon. (I heard from a bus driver a few weeks ago that TriMet is ending Fareless in Jan. '07 since the city is no longer interested in reimbursing what currently amounts to farepaying riders' paid harassment. I have not been able to verify this, however.)
Still, I'd say ride any TriMet bus in the morning or afternoon during the school year, and it's clear that TriMet does more for the kids than the school board/district.
I have heard about "Safe Routes to School" via neighborhood association meetings, and I think it is also a good idea, especially if the school the child attends is the one in the neighborhood, not one miles away from the childs house.
BTW, I attended Madison H.S. in 1994-95, before being moved to the suburbs - I had to walk the little over a mile home every afternoon along NE 82nd Ave., because my mom (single parent) felt it was unaffordable for me to ride the bus either or both directions. This was obviously before any of these efforts were in place - I already knew not to accept rides from anyone I didn't know and if there was trouble anywhere to get the heck out of the area.
August 28, 2006 12:18 AM
Adron B Hall Says:
"Unfortunately, the Oregon Dept. of Education has been very cool to the idea of school buses being used for any other purpose than hauling kids around, so the discussions have never gotten past the theoretical stage."
Well, I didn't mean the yellow school busses, I meant real transit busses or vans or something.
The yellow school busses remind me of things I saw in the ole' Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Those yellow school busses are disgusting and should be a disgrace to any American that takes even a remote amount of pride in the school systems.
Besides that, why torture kids with those nasty old busses. In the south without air conditioning? In the north with barely working heaters or heaters that literally burn if accidentally brushed against.
I would rather see real busses that are designed to actually carry "PEOPLE". Those yellow busses should be relegated to criminal transfers at jails or something.
...just my two cents.
August 28, 2006 11:52 AM
Scott Bricker Says:
Don't forget the school bus companies and the driver's unions.... strong, want more busing. There are many more yellow buses than public buses, the state spends $220 - $275 million/year on school bus costs.
The current law where the state reimburses school districts at 70-90% is not old, 15 years perhaps (sorry I don't have the date.) There is no incentive for schools to want kids to bike and walk if the state pays. The Chalkboard Project list transportation as an important issue to change, but again no viable political solution.
There are lots of changes that could happen but this is a big political issue. Anyone have ideas on how to tackle that?
August 30, 2006 2:08 PM
220 million to 275 million?
Uh. I wish we could stick to solutions and progressive ideas instead of these backassward degenerative "we don't want it unless you pay us" unions. It's sick, disgusting, and downright offensive.
From a functional point of view, I guess we could call it the standard pragmatic view.
The most ideal solution to most of the public schools issues is to insert some type of competition, any type of competition, some expectation of standards and teacher standards, so that schools would have incentive to improve.
The teachers unions, the fact the school system has to deal with transportation of children to and from school at all, and the fact they have this monstrous administrative wing is a prime example of a public service running like an Enron.
The almost violent steps those unions take to functionally stop school improvements and education are horrid.
One day I would hope that schools can do what they are supposed to do, provide education. Only provide education, and provide damn good education that I as an American can be proud to associate with. As it stands I am thoroughly embarrassed and proud only that I escaped the public school system.
During that whole time I (& parents) had to provide my own transportation during elementary, middle, and high school. I'd never assume or even contemplate the idea that the school system should deal with something that isn't their prime mission.
Transit Companies should deal with transit.
School Systems & Private Schools should deal with education.
The Student should deal with learning.