Friday, 11 February 2011

STOP - Children Crossing

When I was in primary school my Mum walked us to school, at a mere 0.9 miles it was a tiny fraction of what she had been expected to walk when she was going to school in rural Ireland. It is also only fair to say that she was a stay at home parent and so was available to walk both ways twice a day to get us to and from school.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2008, 48 per cent of 5 to 10-year olds walked to school, 5 percentage points lower than those walking to school in 1995–1997.

In Ghana, a tricycle project has been set up for children to be transported to school. They had been understandably struggling with the 9 mile round trip walk to school daily and this scheme has helped some children keep up their school attendance. It certainly puts my 1.8 mile childhood round trip into perspective!

In this country we are blessed with many choices. We have not one school but a choice of possible schools for our children to attend, we have the opportunity to choose our lifestyle, we have access to cars, public transport, bikes and scooters not just the ability to walk to school.

Is it this level of choice which has made some of us selfish?

Today we received a communication from school to all parents. It informed us that their had been an incident outside school in which a child had been hit by a car. Mercifully the child escaped injury. This is horrendous.

I know from friends of mine that the problem of inconsiderate parking and driving is not just restricted to my son's school gates. Many schools up and down the country, in little country villages with little parking opportunities at all, in town centres, and on main roads in leafy suburbs such as ours are plagued with parking/picking up/dropping off disasters.

I refuse to allow my son to let go of my hand on the pavement outside school. This is because there have been at least three near misses where people have mounted the pavement at speed as we walked along, he has also hit his head on a car wing mirror the car which it was attached to was taking up so much of the pavement that my son could not miss it! The parking situation has calmed down a bit in recent months, the issue here really is parents mounting the kerb at speed and dropping off their children and rejoining the traffic in an equally reckless manner. This is before we even consider the impact on wheelchair users or parents with pushchairs.

This behaviour is pure selfishness. The person concerned is not thinking for one minute about the impact on pedestrians, or other road users for that matter. All that concerns them is that their child gets to school on time, and their day goes as planned.

I realise for some parents it is a case of dropping children to school on the way to work. If so, park further away as many do and allow 5 mins extra in the morning, use wrap around childcare as required, walk to school and walk back for the car if close enough. But please don't screech to a halt on the pavement outside the school gate, allow your child to open the front passenger door without checking for pedestrians coming up behind (I have been hit by a car door), and barge back into the traffic again. There is NO excuse.

There you go then rant over! I feel better, I hope the child who was hit by a car feels better too.


  1. I feel your pain. It seems to be the same everywhere. The other week a child was knocked down by our school and severely injured. :( But some parents are just as bad and reckless now. What will it take for them to wake up?

  2. Wandering around with a high viz jacket and a video camera can have a positive effect ;)
    (Although i'm sure someone will comment that that is against their civil liberties)

  3. totally understand!! we live in a rural village and have small school. about half the kids can walk to school, the rest are spread over a wide area. I spent some time on the 'travel committee' which addresses some of the above and it was one of those committees that people either loved or hated! I think it does come down to selfishness really. it only takes afew minutes to park a bit fuether away and walk in, and its more beneficial for your child too - we try and encourage people to sue 'park and walk' sites. Our biggest problem is that there is a very small car park at the school and it is down a narrow lane. it is impossible to see from the bottom whether there is space, so of course back logs occur. We really try to push that teh car park is only for those that REALLY need it - there is a disabled girl at the school, or those with very young kids and babies. However there are still repeat offenders who do not work, have no young children or health needs, and just cannot be bothered to walk. GRRR!!!