Q I agree with your observation that often both parents work, so that walking or biking to school is challenging. However, there is an easy solution: the "walking bus." Many places around the world use this.
A The walking what?
Q It works like this: A parent or other adult leaves from the farthest point away from the school and picks up the children on a standard route, much like a school bus but on foot. There can be more than one route based on where kids live.
This way kids can walk to school supervised by an adult and parents only need to get the kids to the "bus stop" on time. Easier for the parents than driving all the way to school! Clever, don't you think?
A Clever indeed.
Q When I lived in Los Angeles (the driving capital of the world), I walked my two daughters to school about 3/4 of a mile away with our mixed breed/large dog, Heidi, leading the way. We soon developed the daily "Heidi's Parade" because other kids in the neighborhood abandoned the Mommy Drive and joined behind Heidi and us. Sometimes we numbered nine of us behind her.
Another lovely benefit: I slimmed down markedly and never looked or felt better. And Heidi acted like the queen of the crosswalks.
A I'm sure she did.
Q My answer to "why don't kids bike to school?" to ease traffic problems is that it's not safe with all the insane, inattentive drivers around schools. My 10-year-old would gladly bike the 11/2 miles to Forest Hill Elementary school. I trust her biking ability, but I fear for her safety riding along streets with inexperienced high school student commuters and parents talking on cellphones.
Instead of biking, we drive most of the way to school, park at a nearby church and walk the last block, avoiding the drop-off circus.
A That is a smart option, and parents at other schools are doing similar things to ease the problems of traffic in school zones.
Q Could parents walk their kids or a group of kids to school? Yes, I would love to see it. Park a few blocks away and enjoy the walk. My wife and I have been taking our 19-month-old twins for walks up and down the block. It's great, and we are "training" them for later. Today is not like it was when I was going to school, 45 years ago. There is no way I would let my kids walk to school by themselves.
A And ...
Q For several years, Discovery Charter School in San Jose has had many carpool groups as well as parent shuttles to drive pools of kids from a church site, about four blocks away from school. This year, an active parent is coordinating a "walk-pool", where driving parents drop their kids off at this same remote site and the walking parent escorts them for the five-minute trek to school. It's a great way to get the students warmed up and ready for class, as well decrease neighborhood traffic!
A What do other schools do? When my kids were younger, our school sent home brochures with road rules and had teachers out monitoring traffic.
Q The answer as to why more kids don't bike or walk to school is simple. What parent in their right mind, after dealing with the dangerous and distracted driving in school zones every day, would send out their 10-year-old to negotiate it by themselves on a bike?
If you don't trust drivers to watch out for other cars, there's no way you could trust them enough to watch out for a mini-pedestrian.
I biked 6 miles round trip every day to college. And despite having bike lanes almost the whole way, in four years I was hit by cars twice. Luckily no major damage, but it could easily have been different.
A Let's all be careful out there.