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Walking and cycling to school in the ACT

By BicycleCanberra 29 September 2011 35

bicycles

Unfortunately the number of children and young people getting to school via an active travel mode has been in decline in the ACT; however the ACT government is looking at ways to encourage families with children and young people to once again choose to walk or ride to school, rather than using the car.

Your feedback will help inform the development of a strategy for active travel to ACT schools.

Interestingly in the Netherlands they have managed to maintain their levels of children and young people cycling to school. This has been achieved by investing in infrastructure and road safety polices that promote active travel.

[Photo Woden Valley High School 1969]


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Walking and cycling to school in the ACT
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Watson 1:42 pm 02 Oct 11

s-s-a said :

Younger kids find it hard to judge if a car is going to stop or not. So they have to wait till the car has come to a complete stop, then make eye contact with the driver and it all takes much longer than it would take an adult.

At least if there is a school crossing though, the driver *is obliged* to stop and let the child cross.

My 7yo won’t cross the road if there is a car in sight, still can’t do the “even a baby could crawl across before that car gets here” maths in her head. That will come, but not if she spends every trip to school looking out the window of a car.

I definitely wasn’t suggesting that driving was the preferable alternative to letting your child walk to school by themselves. Walking or riding with your child is a much better option. We fortunately have lots of parents doing that at our school.

chilli 11:37 pm 01 Oct 11

Postalgeek said :

Jim Jones said :

johnboy said :

Wheel lock!

Not as nicely balanced as a tyre iron, but certainly a satisfactory substitute.

Or you could leave them both in the boot and use the perfectly good 1-2 ton vehicle on hand, with the keys still in the ignition, to reverse over them, then forward, aand back, aaand forward.

My son’s backpack would do a pretty good job too.

Postalgeek 1:31 pm 30 Sep 11

Jim Jones said :

johnboy said :

Wheel lock!

Not as nicely balanced as a tyre iron, but certainly a satisfactory substitute.

Or you could leave them both in the boot and use the perfectly good 1-2 ton vehicle on hand, with the keys still in the ignition, to reverse over them, then forward, aand back, aaand forward.

poetix 1:23 pm 30 Sep 11

Jim Jones said :

poetix said :

I still think parents who let primary school children ride or walk on their own, without an adult, are irresponsible, however mature their child seems to be.

Fancy that, every generation of parents, across the entire globe (with the singular exception of the current crop of parents in wealthy Western countries) were ‘irresponsible’.

Many children were and are killed by cars hitting them. I saw the blood smears on the road form where a child had been killed when I was about 10, back in the allegedly ‘good old days’ of freedom and exploratory rambles. There is even more traffic now. My suburb is swamped with people from other suburbs cutting through. They are so concerned about being late for work that they don’t seem to see the children. I think sending a very young child out into that alone makes about as much sense as letting them play Russian roulette. The odds of survival may be better but the potential consequences are the same.

My daughter and I were nearly hit by a learner driver outside her school, who went straight through a crossing. Being madly over-protective, I grabbed my daughter back, rather than let an independent, feisty character be formed by one tonne of metal hitting her. When I remonstrated, the mother supervising her child’s driving criticised me for not checking carefully enough before using the crossing. We had; the learner just forgot about the crossing and sped towards us from a complete stop. She apologised, but the mother said that the law was that we had an equal responsibility to drivers to avoid collisions. Instant lawyering after nearly smashing into a child is not a good look. If I hadn’t been there, stomping on my daughter’s natural curiosity and creativity by holding her hand, I doubt she would still be around to have the chance to develop any sort of independence.

It is simply not worth the risk.

johnboy said :

Wheel lock!

It’s very lucky I was only armed with my vocabulary that day. My daughter still talks about the amazing fact that her mother knows ‘words like that’.

Jim Jones 12:33 pm 30 Sep 11

johnboy said :

Wheel lock!

Not as nicely balanced as a tyre iron, but certainly a satisfactory substitute.

johnboy 11:14 am 30 Sep 11

Wheel lock!

alaninoz 11:12 am 30 Sep 11

Jim Jones said :

Any driver who would ‘lose patience and drive on’ because it takes extra time for children to use a zebra crossing should be physically pulled from his or her car and beaten mercilessly with a tyre iron.

Not many people carry tyre irons these days. How about just giving them a good kicking? I’d find that much more emotionally satisfying anyway. I’m as impatient as the next person, but endangering kids isn’t my style.

s-s-a 10:56 am 30 Sep 11

Younger kids find it hard to judge if a car is going to stop or not. So they have to wait till the car has come to a complete stop, then make eye contact with the driver and it all takes much longer than it would take an adult.

At least if there is a school crossing though, the driver *is obliged* to stop and let the child cross.

My 7yo won’t cross the road if there is a car in sight, still can’t do the “even a baby could crawl across before that car gets here” maths in her head. That will come, but not if she spends every trip to school looking out the window of a car.

Jim Jones 9:45 am 30 Sep 11

Watson said :

When I was trying to get a new zebra crossing/wombat crossing (never knew they were called that!) near our school I was warned by some parents that they are often harder to negotiate for kids. Younger kids find it hard to judge if a car is going to stop or not. So they have to wait till the car has come to a complete stop, then make eye contact with the driver and it all takes much longer than it would take an adult. And that is of course if the driver doesn’t lose patience and decides to drive on anyway because they don’t understand why the child is so hesitant.

Any driver who would ‘lose patience and drive on’ because it takes extra time for children to use a zebra crossing should be physically pulled from his or her car and beaten mercilessly with a tyre iron.

Jim Jones 9:37 am 30 Sep 11

poetix said :

I still think parents who let primary school children ride or walk on their own, without an adult, are irresponsible, however mature their child seems to be.

Fancy that, every generation of parents, across the entire globe (with the singular exception of the current crop of parents in wealthy Western countries) were ‘irresponsible’.

BicycleCanberra 8:16 am 30 Sep 11

poetix said :

I still think parents who let primary school children ride or walk on their own, without an adult, are irresponsible, however mature their child seems to be. They’re children, and often distracted or dreaming or showing off to their friends. We expect them to be properly supervised at school, yet some people are happy to let them take full responsibility for dodging cars on the way there. Bizarre.

It is important that children become resilient in their environment. Children need to explore there neighbourhood and become confident, most children by years 5 & 6 should be able to walk and cycle to school unaccompanied. In the Netherlands children are taught about road rules from a very early age and walk and cycle independently from about 8 years old ,they also take a cycle proficiency test in the last year of primary school as the majority of high school students cycle to school, usually over some long distances.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4J5havWlf8&list=FLzJfemZXZlqZBWxUKLsxDpw&index=7

Watson 8:52 pm 29 Sep 11

Bad Seed said :

Both my kids ride but I live in mortal terror of the one road they need to cross. They are 9 and 11 and have a lovely run to school, bike paths most of the way but must cross one road – the deadly Bugden Ave in Fadden. Its a marked crossing – one of those wombats or whatever they are called (the ones with the humps). The problem is that its not a busy crossing (for pedestrians) and its at the bottom of a hill and the @#$%%@%# traffic just DOES NOT STOP. Most mornings I actually walk with them so I can shake my fist and scream at cars and buses who just roar through and nearly wipe us out. I hav visions of me still standing there when the kids are in Year 12, doing the same thing. I have taught them to be traffic aware – to know that despite it being a pedestrian crssing, that traffic may not stop and not to cross unless they are sure the cars have stopped but it is an absolute nightmare. They actually need to make eye contact with each driver to make sure they are seen. I live in constant fear of the days when I know I will have to let them go on their own and something will happen. Between that and the feral magpie close to the school that is now on its 4th year determined to wipe out every school cyclist that goes past, its fraught going to school under your own steam.

When I was trying to get a new zebra crossing/wombat crossing (never knew they were called that!) near our school I was warned by some parents that they are often harder to negotiate for kids. Younger kids find it hard to judge if a car is going to stop or not. So they have to wait till the car has come to a complete stop, then make eye contact with the driver and it all takes much longer than it would take an adult. And that is of course if the driver doesn’t lose patience and decides to drive on anyway because they don’t understand why the child is so hesitant.

But if it is a road where traffic is virtually bumper to bumper during peak hour, not having a zebra crossing makes it too hard for young kids to cross too. So the only solution that would really work here is a pedestrian light. But they are so expensive that they are very sparingly installed.

And rebcart: if you talk like a grumpy old man/woman when you’re 22, I worry about what you’ll be like when you’re middle aged.

Bad Seed 7:14 pm 29 Sep 11

Both my kids ride but I live in mortal terror of the one road they need to cross. They are 9 and 11 and have a lovely run to school, bike paths most of the way but must cross one road – the deadly Bugden Ave in Fadden. Its a marked crossing – one of those wombats or whatever they are called (the ones with the humps). The problem is that its not a busy crossing (for pedestrians) and its at the bottom of a hill and the @#$%%@%# traffic just DOES NOT STOP. Most mornings I actually walk with them so I can shake my fist and scream at cars and buses who just roar through and nearly wipe us out. I hav visions of me still standing there when the kids are in Year 12, doing the same thing. I have taught them to be traffic aware – to know that despite it being a pedestrian crssing, that traffic may not stop and not to cross unless they are sure the cars have stopped but it is an absolute nightmare. They actually need to make eye contact with each driver to make sure they are seen. I live in constant fear of the days when I know I will have to let them go on their own and something will happen. Between that and the feral magpie close to the school that is now on its 4th year determined to wipe out every school cyclist that goes past, its fraught going to school under your own steam.

rebcart 5:47 pm 29 Sep 11

poetix said :

I actually take the time to walk with my daughter every day, which allows her to have exercise (and me too!), enables us to talk, and ensures she is not squashed by some-one ‘dropping off’ their kids, and barely stopping their car to do it, let alone parking it in a proper parking spot. I have arranged things so I can do this, because nothing is more important than her welfare. I still think parents who let primary school children ride or walk on their own, without an adult, are irresponsible, however mature their child seems to be. They’re children, and often distracted or dreaming or showing off to their friends. We expect them to be properly supervised at school, yet some people are happy to let them take full responsibility for dodging cars on the way there. Bizarre.

Better over-protective than slack. Better cherished than lost.

Starting from first grade, I was expected to walk on my own to and from school (20 minutes each way at small child speed), and when I came home both my parents wouldn’t be home from work for several hours, so I was expected to open the door myself, lock it and make myself a snack while I did my homework. Inner suburbs of Sydney, so much more traffic than Canberra, and I had to cross at least one busy road at an intersection. Being distracted? Yeah, I frequently dawdled on my way home and spent an hour+ catching lizards off brick walls. Who cares? I had fun and more exercise than most kids these days, and getting myself to school on time was MY responsibility, which MADE me more mature. In year 5 and 6, I had to get home as quickly as possible, get on my bike and cycle for 30 minutes to get to extracurricular activities. Again, it was my responsibility – my parents were too busy to be personal chaffeurs, even for the activities I was forced to do rather than were my choice. And this isn’t in some sort of fictional baby boomer nostalgia land from eons ago, I’m only 22 now.

How do you expect your child to instantly become more mature? Just by growing older? Maturity is developed, not given as a magical gift on a particular birthdate.

The only reason to be overprotective is to make yourself somehow feel less guilty. It does nothing for the child, who grows up feeling untrusted to do things on their own and will later in life be more likely to be anxious and clingy (seen all those stories of American kids who run crying to their mums to sort out college subject changes and job interviews for them, because they’ve never had to do anything themselves?)

There are plenty of primary school age children out there doing just as I did, and that’s NORMAL. It was always seen as normal until only a few decades ago, if that. The way I see it, either your child is so retarded that she is genuinely incapable of taking on a bit of responsibility and learning to do things for herself… or you’re not giving her the opportunity to prove to you that she is stronger than you think because of your own fears.

Mysteryman 5:46 pm 29 Sep 11

poetix said :

I actually take the time to walk with my daughter every day, which allows her to have exercise (and me too!), enables us to talk, and ensures she is not squashed by some-one ‘dropping off’ their kids, and barely stopping their car to do it, let alone parking it in a proper parking spot. I have arranged things so I can do this, because nothing is more important than her welfare. I still think parents who let primary school children ride or walk on their own, without an adult, are irresponsible, however mature their child seems to be. They’re children, and often distracted or dreaming or showing off to their friends. We expect them to be properly supervised at school, yet some people are happy to let them take full responsibility for dodging cars on the way there. Bizarre.

Better over-protective than slack. Better cherished than lost.

Children need to learn to look out for themselves eventually. And it starts early with simple things like walking to school and crossing roads. If you teach them how to cross a road, you’d be surprised at their ability to do so without dying, being run over, or spontaneously combusting. You know how I know this? I learnt. My siblings learnt. My nieces and nephews have learnt. My friends did, too.

I think it’s great that you make the time to walk with your child to school. More parents should demonstrate that kind of willingness to make time for their children. Allowing a child (who is capable) to walk to school unsupervised isn’t careless or negligent.

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