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