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randya 04-09-09 11:40 PM

Let Them Ride Bicycles!
Don't they realize that all the parents in their cars are causing the problem?!?!?!



Originally Posted by NY Times
April 10, 2009
Giving Lessons in Traffic Safety at Middle Schools
LOS ANGELES — At 2:58 each weekday afternoon, the adults brace for traffic chaos at Florence Nightingale Middle School.

The bell sounds, and children dash to the left and right. Some bounce basketballs as they make their way to waiting cars — some parked illegally — backpacks swing perilously from side to side, and many pile into Metro buses idling two lanes deep. School administrators in bright orange vests move their charges gingerly through a crosswalk as the children try to hurl themselves toward burger joints across the street.

“You guys stink like moldy cheese,” barked Mitchell Summer, the dean of students, as he struggled to move the masses across a busy intersection with a broken traffic signal. “Come on, let’s go, let’s go!”

Among the many worries of Los Angeles parents who pack their children off to school each day, traffic dangers have been looming larger in recent years.

The number of serious traffic incidents involving schoolchildren across the 900 Los Angeles public schools has significantly increased, particularly around middle schools, which are not staffed by crossing guards, school administrators and law enforcement officials say. Last year, two eighth-grade girls in Wilmington, near the Port of Los Angeles, were hit by vehicles near school, and one girl was left partly paralyzed.

The traffic dangers have become so widespread that the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office will soon begin training parents for volunteer traffic control and safety duty.

“The problem is that there are not enough resources,” said Michelle McGinnis, a prosecutor in the office. “And those resources are diminishing.” Financing for crossing guards has decreased steadily over 15 years, and there is a lack of applicants for the jobs, school district officials said.

From January to November 2008, there were 153 traffic-related injuries around schools, which Los Angeles public school officials said was much higher than five years ago, though they could not provide data for prior years.

In recent years, traffic has become among the top three safety concerns in schools, said Michael Hopwood, the central operations coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Increased traffic around schools has vexed other major cities, too. Nationwide, roughly 21 percent of morning traffic is generated by parents driving children to school, said Raquel Rivas, a spokeswoman for Safe Routes to School, a national organization formed to encourage walking and bicycling to school.

Traffic patterns around schools in Los Angeles have become clogged and often dangerous because of a large growth in student enrollment and an increase in the number of parents who ferry their children to and from school out of fear for their safety, Mr. Hopwood said. Especially in high-crime areas, parents are reluctant to let their children walk.

“It’s getting worse and worse each year,” said Brad Smith, an environmental health and safety officer at the school district, “because so many parents feel that they need to drop their kids at the front entrance of the school because they are concerned about harm.”

A school bus driver, Michelle Coleman, says middle schools are her biggest nightmare. “The parents park right here where the buses need to be,” Ms. Coleman said the other day outside Florence Nightingale, northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Luz Bunacaba conceded that she was part of the problem. But with bus fare of $5 a day and the distance too far for her 15-year-old son to walk, Ms. Bunacaba parks in the bus lane. “I have to,” she said, “it’s the only way.”

Part of the problem is that schools lack enough crosswalks, so students cross in the middle of the block, Mr. Hopwood said.

“We have sidewalks that are too thin,” he said. “At one high school, there are over 5,000 students on the sidewalks, and they get impatient with one another. We have lots of parents double parking. There is just not enough room, and there have been lots of incidents of students getting hit.”

Some parents try to intervene, sometimes though a school district program that trains them how to manage car-pool lanes during drop off. But unless parents are trained, that can lead to problems, Ms. McGinnis said.

At one middle school downtown, she said, parents stood on a corner for hours, studying officers for tips on directing traffic, and then tried to emulate them. But they did not have proper training or equipment, and ended up drawing the unhappy attention of the police themselves.

In studying the safety problems at the middle schools, the Los Angeles city attorney’s school safety prosecutors were surprised to see that traffic was a pressing problem at nearly all of the nine most troubled schools.

So the office, using Los Angeles Police Department officers, came up with a training program and bought traffic safety equipment — bright vests, traffic cones — to try to “professionalize” parents and other volunteers.

The city attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, is also pressing the Police Department to enhance enforcement of traffic laws around schools. “It’s a small investment with a big return,” said Mr. Delgadillo’s spokesman, Nick Velasquez. “Making do with less in tough times.”

John E 04-10-09 06:45 AM

I live 500 meters from a 700-student elementary school, and the greatest traffic hazards we face are from parents transporting their kids to and from school. To their credit, some of the parents have organized periodic walk-to-school days, but we still have the widespread misperception that walking to school is somehow too difficult or too dangerous for the kids.

atbman 04-10-09 07:40 AM

Me, to mother who insisted she had to drive her kid to school because of the danger from drivers, "Why don't you improve your driving?"
Her: "What do you mean improve my driving? I drive very carefully!"
Me: "You can't drive carefully, otherwise, all those other parents wouldn't drive their kids to school, because they wouldn't be afraid of your driving."

Not entirely sure she understood what I was getting at.

jgrant75 04-10-09 07:50 AM

i live across the street from two schools, Grand View Boulevard Elementary‎ and Wildwood. that being said, you can understand why the first 1/4 mile of my commute can be a pain.

Wildwood actually has the audacity to post signs that instruct pedestrians to "Yield to Cars"

Grand View does not use it's built in drop off on the property adjacent to a 6 lane street and instead marks off a two lane street to create a new drop off in traffic.

for about four hours a day (or something) cars are wrapped around the block here...
no one really stops at the stop signs unless the crossing guard gets off her tuft. and everyone is burning rubber in a rush.

you are right, no one gets it, stop using the car, use what exists... stop spending money on orange vests and start educating the people.

and we need to stop instilling this fear in our children that outside is unsafe. i had to fight with my mom to ride my bike to school at age 11 and it was only a few blocks away. she insisted she drive me on the way to school out of concerns for safety... coming home from elementary school in the car i witnessed 3 car accidents. i never once came in conflict with a car when on my Mongoose BMX.

rocky d is an imbecile... the "“Making do with less in tough times.”" is such a load of crap... they let advertising run tax free rampant in LA yet there has not been one successfully wide reaching bike advocacy/education campaign in LA. the politicos here screw up so much.

when are they going to realize we need to start restricting cars from infrastructure to reduce traffic and safety concerns -- and not creating new infrastructure?!

Elkhound 04-10-09 03:51 PM

In Japan, parents are forbidden to drive children to school. At the beginning and end of the school day, streets near schools are closed to cars. Children walk or bike to school.

caloso 04-10-09 03:54 PM

Originally Posted by Elkhound (Post 8706890)
In Japan, parents are forbidden to drive children to school. At the beginning and end of the school day, streets near schools are closed to cars. Children walk or bike to school.

They read my mind. What a civilized country!

daven1986 04-10-09 04:40 PM

In london when it is the school holidays the amount of traffic on the road during rush hour is greatly reduced. Around schools you get many cars pulling out, double parked, not concentrating much and it is pretty dangerous. Most of those kids could walk to school or cycle or get public transport.

Elkhound 04-10-09 04:47 PM

In Charlotte, NC, the public schools specifically forbid students from cycling to school.

daven1986 04-10-09 05:04 PM

oh that is really smart. How about they stop children from climbing trees, walking to school, playing sports. When will people learn that we can't protect people from everything, some day someone will get hurt and yes it won't be very nice but it is life.

uke 04-10-09 05:57 PM

I do a lot of work with elementary schools. Drop-off times in the mornings and afternoons are quite busy. It would be much safer if more kids rode the bus, walked, or biked, instead of having their parents pick and drop them. It's understandable that many kids are too young to ride or walk on their own, and that most families live too far to walk, but that's what the schoolbus is for. One bus can carry far more kids and drop them off far more safely than ten or twenty SUVs and minivans weaving in and out of the parking lot. Generally, the more cars are being driven, the more dicey things get.

bkrownd 04-10-09 06:04 PM

WTF? What ever happened to school busses? When I was in elementary school they even made us ride the school bus to the school just 3 blocks away.

Galls 04-10-09 07:37 PM

I remember out walking all the cars to my high school. My mother is dutch so me being outside was never a concern for her, so equally this mentality is impossible for me to understand.

The Human Car 04-11-09 06:30 AM

Originally Posted by jgrant75 (Post 8703968)
Wildwood actually has the audacity to post signs that instruct pedestrians to "Yield to Cars"

I would love to get a picture of that.

Square & Compas 04-11-09 07:17 AM

Dakota Valley School District which is located in North Sioux City, South Dakota and includes North Sioux City, Dakota Dunes and surrounding area BANS students from riding bike to/from school. This includes the elementary, junior high and high schools. They also offer literal door to door bus service. From what I have heard from the Superintendant there are some students who live pretty much across from and just down the block a little from the school grounds and they are picked up and dropped off by the bus. At most this is a quarter mile for some of thes students. The Superintendant would like to change this because it is costing him at least $75,000 a year to bus these kids who live a mile or closer to the school. Here is the ironic thing; There is an MUP going right past one of the schools.


The school board made this decision some time ago for the "safety of the kids." Yet it costs tens of thousands of dollars and causes a lot of traffic congestion problems around the schools. Every time the issue is brought up to change it, it is voted down. There are some pretty powerful people on the Dakota Valley School Board. The Dakota Dunes area is where a lot of the influential people with money have gone to live. This is just on the other side of the border of Iowa and South Dakota.

Either someone very powerful with a lot of influence who is still on the school board pushed this and had it passed. Or someone who is not on the school board with money, influence and power in the district managed to be heard on the matter and had it passed.

The problem is not always the parents driving the kids to school. The problem also lays with the school board.

genec 04-11-09 07:54 AM

Amazing. When I went to school, from about 5th grade on, I rode a bike to school. I was 11 years old at the time, in 1967. It was just slightly over a mile to school. I got my first bike when I was 9 years old. I remember the incredible freedom that the bike meant to me. I could go "anywhere." My parents had a "policy" that none of us kids got bikes until we were 9. I had actually ridden my friends' bikes before that. (and I got into trouble for it, too.)

My first bike was a Schwinn... it was used and black. Single speed. I loved it. Schwinns were cool. There were no "10 speeds" that I was aware of, at the time. (I actually got my first "10 speed" some 10 years later.) Stingrays made the scene just a few years after I got my first bike. Long "sissy bars" were soon all the rage.

It was quite common for kids to ride bikes to school. I remember having this long lock thing that I think I used to lock the spokes. (it was a very cheap version of a U lock, but did not have an opening nearly as wide, but it was long.) I remember going to "bike rodeos," before being allowed to ride my bike any distance. The local pool was not too far from the school, as was the local park... all roughly a mile or so away... and well within my range. I could go "anywhere." I remember having a double basket thing on the back of my bike. My first "panniers" if you will. My younger brother and sister could sit on that and ride around with me by putting their feet in the basket. I could and did carry stuff.

My best friend had a paper route. Remember I'm talking 10, 11 years old here. Sometimes I'd ride the paper route with him. Having a paper route was very cool. In the 6th grade, I became a patrol guard. (had to have good grades to do that). Kids walked to school and rode bikes... Patrol guards "worked" at the intersections and helped other kids cross the street. We wore these white belt things with badges. We worked as teams at the intersections. We also raised the flag in the morning, and went to class slightly late due to our morning "duties."

When and why did all this youthful personal responsibility stuff go by the wayside? Why are kids chauffeured to school today? Is it any wonder that recent youth tend to be a bit "rolly polly?"

My son walked to his elementary school... it was about 6 blocks away. When he went to jr high, he had to have written permission to ride a bike to school. He preferred the skateboard anyway. (it was "cooler.")

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