My kids haven’t even been back to school a week yet, and already I’m tired of having to ferry them there.
There no longer is bus service for kids who live within the magical 2.5-mile radius of their school, so folks like me have to find a way to get ’em there.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I know money’s tight. I know the elimination of bus service is good for the bottom line.
But I can’t help but take one look at the long line of cars waiting to drop off or pick up students and get a little … sad.
When first I heard the bus was going bye-bye, my pebble-sized brain wracked itself with options: car pool, walking, walking school bus (whatever the heck that is)? The bike commuter in me secretly hoped we could find a way to ride to school, but that fantasy didn’t last long.
First, a bit of history.
For two years, my daughter went to one elementary school. Before the start of her second-grade year, however, she was gerrymandered into another school because of crowding issues. We live almost exactly equidistant from the two schools — right at 2.47 miles.
Though we’ve come to appreciate the new school and are glad we’re there, the truth is that it’s a tougher commute. The old school is easily accessible from quiet neighborhood roads. The current one is across busy Sixth Street.
Public transportation isn’t a possibility.
I’ve thought about making the kids walk to school, but the best route is just under 2.5 miles. That’s a bit of a tough hike for my 8-year-old son. I’m sure he could do it — I’d say both my kids are on the active and fit side of the curve; we frequently go for longer walks or bike rides around the ’hood — but that 2.5-mile walk to school also is a 2.5-mile walk home. That’s … let’s see … um, er, carry the 1 … count the thumb … five miles round-trip.
OK, it’s not exactly the Bataan Death March, but it’s still a little on the long side. That’s 25 miles a week.
When I was in elementary school, in the happier, healthier ’70s, I walked a mile each way and thought it was long. (And, no, it wasn’t uphill both ways.) Then again, I was a fat kid. Go figure.
A five-mile round trip also is quite a time commitment that makes it implausible. (You’ll notice I’m not whining about what would be my own sorry lot in life. If I walked the kids to school, I’d have to add two legs a day, so I’d rack up 10 miles a day.)
I’ve thought about saddling up, too, but there isn’t a decent bike route I’d feel safe having them on. In addition to having to cross Sixth, they’d spend at least a few blocks on a major arterial street leading to Free State High. Traffic leading to and from FSHS can be a bit crazy, with inexperienced and sometimes lead-footed drivers. And that’s just the teachers.
There is exactly one bike lane between my house and the kids’ school, and it lasts about a block-and-a-half.
Even though I’m certain my kids COULD ride to school, I just don’t feel it’s safe for them to do so.
So I’m the proud member of a car pool, stuck driving kids to school every morning and picking them up every afternoon, all the while wracking my brain for a way out of this mess, but fearful there isn’t one.