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LETTER: Hit the brakes on school commute

September 01, 2017

NORTH SHORE NEWS

QueensburyWalking.jpeg

Queensbury Elementary students follow the walking school bus in this file image from the spring of 2015. The initiative supported by the school, parents and the city was piloted at the North Vancouver school five years ago. file photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News.

Dear Editor:

As the kids head back to school, we often get caught up in the school supplies and clothes shopping, but maybe the best use of a few hours of summer break could be practising their walking or biking to school route.

Getting our children prepared to walk or bike to school during the summer break provides the time to find the best route and safest crossings.

Parents often think that driving to school is safer and faster, but that’s not the case. It’s the amount of traffic and poor driving choices that make school zones unsafe. Administrators spend their time managing the traffic rather that changing the mode of transportation. Removing 50 per cent of the car volume would make the arrival and departure safer for all modes of transportation.

It’s also a myth that driving to school is faster. Many parents think dropping off their child before the bell then heading off to work is efficient time management. In reality, it wastes your valuable time by getting caught in the school zone traffic jam to then meet all the others doing the same thing on the bridges, causing more congestion and more time wasted.

What if your child walked or cycled with a friend to school? Their commute time along with before-school socializing means you could get to the bridge 30 minutes earlier. Too far for your child to walk? Then drop them off a few blocks from school to avoid the school zone traffic and buy yourself 15 minutes for your commute. That could be a coffee before your first meeting.

“Too far” is also a very interesting excuse. How far did you walk to school? How far do your kids walk on Halloween to get candy? It’s all relative. Our children are more resilient than we give them credit. Take this weekend to practise the route to school and give yourself the gift of time. However, the greatest reward is that your child will be more active; these benefits last a lifetime:

• Improve their health.

• Do better in school.

• Improve self-esteem and confidence.

• Maintain a healthy body weight.

• Improve their fitness.

• Have fun playing with friends.

• Feel happier.

• Learn new skills.

Getting to school in an active way is win-win.

Carol Sartor
North Vancouver


Editor’s note: Carol Sartor is a founding member of the North Shore Safe Routes Advocates and a facilitator at HASTe (Hub for Active School Travel).

© 2017 North Shore News. Click here to read the full article, originally published in the North Shore News.