CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Back to School

I was struck by this post, about the bicycle-heavy back-to-school ritual in the Netherlands, at David Hembrow’s site. As he observes, “a few weeks before the start of the school term, banners and signs appear to remind drivers that children are to be expected to be on bikes in larger numbers again. The banner reads ‘The schools are starting again.’ ”

In the U.S., of course, it’s more common at this time of year for schools to send out notices that their “traffic patterns” have changed, meaning the location of where kids are picked up and dropped off, via car (and typically they’re changed because so many parents are driving their kids to school, and the parking lots have become not only congested, but safety hazards). Relatedly, I happened to read, over the DOT’s Fast Lane page, about Secretary Ray LaHood visiting a school in Peoria, where some young students gave him their thoughts on transportation and safety. I don’t know what they envisioned, but I was curious to note the school’s handbook, located here, which notes, “due to the volume of traffic in the parking lot, students should be dropped off and picked up and the Northmoor door of the school.”

The final thing to note, not surprisingly, is the WalkScore of the neighborhood where the school is located: 49 out of 100.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 10th, 2009 at 12:08 pm and is filed under Bicycles, Cars, Cities, Traffic Culture, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Back to School”

  1. Kevin Love Says:

    This is a problem that is quite easy, simple and cheap to fix. Many schools around here have successfully implemented fixes using one or more of the following steps:

    1. If the school has a car parking lot, chain it shut during school start times. Bicycle parking, of course, remains open.

    2. Post nearby roads “No Stopping 7-9 AM.”

    3. As part of his routine everyday patrol, the local beat policeman arrives at the school just before school start time to enforce the “No Stopping” laws.

    We have found these measures quite effective in ensuring that children bicycle or walk to school.

  2. Yokota Fritz Says:

    And in the bike email lists, discussion forums and blogs comes the annual reports of schools than ban bikes because of “safety” concerns.

  3. David Hembrow Says:

    Can I suggest that people also take a look at a video showing how Dutch children get to school. It’s the infrastructure that makes it possible.

    Kevin might be interested to know that they do that here too. It’s illegal to stop a car outside many schools between 8 am and 4 pm (or whatever the times are…). Some of our primary schools don’t have a car park at all. The teachers all cycle too.

  4. aaron Says:

    I like Kevin Love’s policy.

    It’d never fly in the US. We’d need to find accommodations for distance commuters and the harsh winters would bring about a lot of whining.

  5. David Hembrow Says:

    Aaron: Do you realise that Kevin lives in Canada – i.e. North of the US and with pretty harsh winters of its own.

    It’s not quite so cold as Canada here, but Dutch winters do get pretty cold too. Last winter it got down to about -13 C for the morning commute. Despite this, children continue to cycle to school, just as commuters continue to commute and shoppers continue to shop by bike. Last winter it got down to about -13 C for the morning commute.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

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