I read a news article recently that I really hope is not true. It's about a school in Saratoga Springs, New York, that has banned children from riding to school. The school has a written no-bicycle policy. While I was hoping it wasn't true, I came across an article about another school that has done the same thing. This one is in Gilbert, Arizona.
What's weird is that this is happening in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Except there certainly doesn't appear to be much freedom about how parents choose to get their children to school. The isssue has nothing to do with being brave of course. It's just bizarre.
You would hope that we would never get to that state of affairs but sometimes I think we're not far off. Outside our local school, cars have free rein and children have to stand back and wait for them. I even notice it at the crossing that is controlled by students under the direction of a teacher. The last time I crossed there I wanted to get across the road so I could jump on my bike and ride to work. The teacher stood there saying "hang on girls" and letting every single car past. I quietly muttered (wishing I was brave enough to say it loudly), "tell them to hold their signs up". He waited for every single car to pass and then finally told the girls to hold up their signs so that the group of us that had been waiting for ages were finally guided across an empty road.
The student holding the signs have to wear fluoro vests and are not trusted to be able to do even a simple task like that holding up a sign on a road with a 25 km/h speed limit. Thankfully, unlike in Saratoga Springs, children can still ride bikes and scooters to school. Scooters seem to be more popular because everyone is stuck on the pavement. There's not a great deal of parking for them though.
I get quietly annoyed that our children are so hemmed in because of conscious decisions that have been made that result in them not being prioritised. I suppose we should be thankful for small mercies and that I am not dictated to about how I get my children to school.
Marc van Woudenberg (publisher of the Amsterdamize blog, a prolific Tweeter and impressive photographer and filmmaker) just published a new set of photos called Cross-Sectional Study. It includes photos of children getting around independently. This one in particular.
Students in Saratogo Springs can only dream of that sort of independence. It still seems to be unattainable for ours. All it needs is a couple of wrong decisions and we'll follow our American friends. Please no.