Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Traffic Calming = Life Calming

The other day I referenced the sheer amount of street traffic that comes into play from parents driving their kids to school. There are similar figures available for how much filth the school pickup carline emits (right next to the school!).

little dude on a tagalongGetting at least SOME of these trips done via biking or walking is huge for traffic calming and making the air on the school playground tastier.

But there’s more beyond that in terms of messaging. I have never seen an argument for biking/walking your kids to school as a form of life calming.

If you consider that most kids are in school about 36 weeks a year, that means there are approximately 252 Wednesdays from the time a child starts kindergarten to the time they start 7th grade. I’m choosing Wednesday arbitrarily; 7th grade is chosen because that’s right around the age a kid would rather die than be seen in public with mom or dad. (I’m pretty sure this can be statistically proven.)

If a parent takes one day a week in that K-6 time period to bike or walk to school, they get more time watching their kid grow up. Instead of having a kid in the backseat of the car, they can be two abreast and talk. They can be accessible as a parent to hear about what is going on with their kid in a more relaxed environment than the cross-examination at the dinner table.

It is a quieter time, at a slower pace, that helps arrest the quick passage of time as a child grows. This is time that cannot be reclaimed by parent or child later. It also calms traffic and reduces air pollution and fuel use. Bicycling and walking create less wear and tear on roadways, as well.

Similar arguments can be applied to other trips under 2 miles. I rode with my kids to the library the other day, total round trip of 5.5 miles. Sure, it took a little longer, but from birth to age 18, I have approximately 936 Saturdays to spend with my kids. As they grow, they will be less interested in spending that time with me versus other things (activities, dates, part-time employment, drum corps, whatever). So it took a little longer to get there and back. That was part of the point.

In a world dedicated to speed, it is good to remind people of the value of slowing down. And if we can get parents of the world to slow down a bit, we reach a pretty large population and can make a pretty good difference. The math is compelling.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.

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