Sunday, February 6, 2011

Providing safe ways for kids to walk and bike to school

Today's Post contains a good letter to the editor on providing safe ways for kids to walk and bike to school, One way Virginia can get kids moving
Rather than mandating more time in gym class ["Va. assembly approves PE bill in effort to curb obesity in kids," Metro, Feb. 2], Virginia lawmakers could promote physical activity for schoolchildren by requiring municipalities to provide safe walking and bicycling routes to school. The number of children walking and bicycling to school has decreased significantly over the past four decades, reflecting the lack of routes through neighborhoods that are safe from automobile traffic.

I grew up in a neighborhood with a streetscape similar to my current one in Falls Church. I could walk or bike to school and friends' houses without my parents being overly concerned about speeding automobiles. Drivers expected to encounter children who were walking or biking. Today, authorities at my child's middle school and former elementary school forbid children from walking or biking to school, citing traffic concerns. Authorities at the middle school even cite the presence of high school student drivers (encouraged with subsidized parking spaces on the shared campus) as a reason to forbid walking by younger students.

Part of solving the obesity epidemic is changing the toxic environment that discourages the walking and bicycling that should be a normal part of a child's day.

Joyce Migdall, Falls Church
Two other pieces in the Post relate to creating safer streets, the editorial Red-light cameras get results "cameras saved 159 lives in the 14 cities over five years starting in 2004. If the cameras had been in use in every big American city, 815 lives would have been saved during the same span, the researchers concluded."

and another letter to the editor More red-light cameras, please "I have changed my habits at all intersections since receiving a couple of fines from these so-called moneymakers, which wouldn't make any money if drivers obeyed the law. I encourage the installation of more of these, as well as speed cameras. It is time for drivers to slow down and obey the law. Driving is a privilege, not a right to cause harm to yourself, your passengers and others on the road." by Bob Stacy, Falls Church.

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