It’s National Walk To School Day: Is your kid walking?

It used to happen all the time – kids actually walked to school. Most of our parents have exciting stories about trudging through snow or rain for miles to get to school on time. (My dad keeps trying to convince me he walked through snow but he grew up in Savannah. I’m not buying it.)

Well, today is the official U.S. Walk To School Day. The whole month of October is celebrated internationally as Walk to School Month, and the idea is to promote the health and environmental benefits of walking and bicycling.

As much as I support the idea of walking to school, at present my kids don’t have a sidewalk all the way from our house to the school. We have a sidewalk for half of the mile walk. Or if you go the long way, we have sidewalks for a three-mile walk but I think that seems a bit far for a kid to carry a book bag. (And what I mean by that  is that would be a bit far for mom to carry two book bags. I’ll happily walk three miles sans books bags.)

My neighbor and I debated driving to the neighborhood closest to the where the sidewalk begins and then walking the rest of the way with the kids. My kids weren’t interested at all so I wasn’t going to force it on them. Maybe next year the county will have a sidewalk for the other half-mile, and it will be easier to convince them to walk.

Gwinnett County has improved dramatically for walkers since I grew up here. In the 1980s there were NO sidewalks! Now, I can actually walk to a lot of places from our house – the park, the library, restaurants, businesses – just not the school.

Did your kids walk to school today? Is there a safe route with a sidewalk all the way to school? Do they normally walk to school? What would be a reasonable distance to ask a kid to walk or bicycle?

94 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

October 7th, 2009
7:22 am

My 17 year old daughter did not walk 3 miles to school in the dark and rain….would that even be safe?

I walked to school ( on sidewalks) during 7th and 8th grade but that was in the 1970’s….yes, we did live in the suburbs of Chicago and it was about a mile.

deidre_NC

October 7th, 2009
7:36 am

i went to brairlake elementary and walked almost everyday…everyone did…i guess when it rained mom would take us but i remember walking more…it was probably a mile or maybe more..when we were kids a mile or 2 didnt matter…it w3as what we did..walk anywhere we went…to the pool.to the shopping center…to friends houses…highschool was lakeside and we rode the bus..altho we did walk a couple of times..it was far and by the time i was a teen its wasnt as much fun to walk :)…then to henderson and it was really far so no walking to there ever…my kids mostly rode buses…we usually lived too far to walk…my youngest daughter would sometimes run from school when she was playing ball or whatever to keep in shape…around 3 miles…

deidre_NC

October 7th, 2009
7:37 am

good morning mjg and theresa….have a great day!

Dr. Horrible

October 7th, 2009
7:46 am

Um no, it’s raining.

Outlived my usefulness

October 7th, 2009
7:47 am

I used to walk to school in three feet of snow uphill both ways when I was a kid.

Vork

October 7th, 2009
7:52 am

@motherjanegoose

Do you ever work? You talk up a good game but something tells me you are not all that you say that you are.

Perhaps you enjoy posting mile-long comments that bore us all to tears to try to make yourself look big, when all you really do is come off as annoying.

Geez, Vork...

October 7th, 2009
8:04 am

…you must be new to this blog – many posters have tried to get motherjane’s goat, to no avail. And yes, she does work, as she has told us many times, and I am sure she will again in response to your untimely diatribe against her.

And speaking of untimely – could the topic of the day (National Walk to School Day) be more untimely due to the rain, at least in the Atlanta area!

And yes, I walked to school (or rode my bike) for the three years that I lived in an area where I could (Anniston, AL and Tallahassee, FL, back in the 60’s) but I certainly would not recommend it in today’s world!

motherjanegoose

October 7th, 2009
8:15 am

@ Vork…have a nice day yourself. Yes, those ( on this blog) who know me personally can tell you that I work. My paying clients must not find me annoying …good thing. Is that short enough?

Kathy

October 7th, 2009
8:22 am

No walking for us…..to far and too rainy!

deidre_NC…..I went to Briarlake for a year back in the 80s

I also went to Dresden and back then everyone walked or carpooled. I remember walking with my brother from our apartment next St. Pius High, down Shallowford Rd all the way to Dresden Drive where the school was. I can’t believe now that my mom let us do that. Now I wouldn’t walk down Shallowford as an adult!

Becky

October 7th, 2009
8:29 am

No, the little ones didn’t walk to shcool today becuase of the rain..Even if it weren’t raingin though, they most likely wouldn’t be walking, becuase the parents are both to lazy to walk the mile or so to school and back..When I was in school, I walked every day..We never lived far enough away to ride the bus..It wasn’t ever a big deal..

The funny thing about me walking with friends is that I’m from a family of 10 and only three of us don’t smoke..One day while walking home in middle school, my Mother came to pick me up..She told me that I couldn’t walk home with “those” kids anymore because a couple of them were smoking..

sleeslee

October 7th, 2009
8:38 am

Yes, a group from my neighborhood participated in Walk to School Day today… even though it was raining! We have sidewalks the entire way and a crossing guard, but on most days, everyone rides the bus. It’s fun for the kids to be able to walk on this one day out of the year (just wish we could have had better weather for it)!

Kathy

October 7th, 2009
8:39 am

@Vork…..I’ve actually seen motherjanegoose working……she is a wonderful educator.

motherjanegoose

October 7th, 2009
8:46 am

HOORAH and thanks Kathy.

YUKI

October 7th, 2009
9:01 am

When I was in school I remember wishing I could walk to school, but we lived too far. Now, I don’t think my son would be able to do this either when he starts because again, we live too far. These days, though I don’t think it would be a great idea unless you lived really close or you were willing to walk all the way with them. There are too many pervs out there to have the kind of freedom we had growing up.

Andrea

October 7th, 2009
9:11 am

No we didn’t participate today – the kids are out for fall intercession. But, when school resumes, they won’t be walking. We live too far away (over 6 miles one way). I would let them walk if we lived closer and if I could go with them or work with a group of parents to share the responsibility so they would not be walking alone. I know I must sound like a nervous Nelly but there are just too many people that prey on kids. Plus, with the case of the young lady that was reunited with her parents after so many years (I think her name is Jacy or Jesse) it just brings the fear to the forefront because she was abducted on her way to school.

FCM

October 7th, 2009
9:12 am

We did not do it.

However rain or no there were pleanty of people out messing up the commute by walking. Extra 15 min to my ride in.

Stan

October 7th, 2009
9:23 am

As a kid going to Atherton elem in Dekalb, I walked several days to/from school or rode my bike. Sidewalks about half of the ~1-1.5 miles. When I went to Towers, it was too far. Moved to Roswell (wow at the culture shock from that move) and walked/rode the bike most day 1-3 miles from home to middle/high school.

Yeah, I remember my Dad telling me how he walked 15 miles to school in 3 ft of snow up hill both ways. If I ever have kids I’ll tell them the same :)

madmommy

October 7th, 2009
9:23 am

We were just talking about this the other day and I always walked to and from school and was only given a ride if it was pouring rain and freezing cold. I think kids today don’t know much about what it was like when we were kids, riding our bikes and just hanging outside with our friends. Heaven forbid these kids today get off the computer long enough to text a friend. We were never driven anywhere, I remember riding my bike to soccer practice after school and walking home from cheerleading practice. Now, I will say that it’s not the same today as it was then. I don’t think I would allow my child to play outside without someone watching and listing to what is going on.
When she does start school, I hope we live close enough that she can walk, but I think mommy and daddy will have to take turns walking with her just so we know she’s safe.

JJ

October 7th, 2009
9:24 am

We walked back and forth to school or rode our bikes. We walked in snow, blizzards, wind storms, etc. And it was uphill all the way home……

We didn’t have a bus because we were less than 2 miles from the school. On really cold days, my dad, or another parent in the neighborhood, would drive us to school, but we usually walked home in the afternoons.

My parents both worked, and my dad travelled a lot, so we had to learn how to fend for ourselves and get back and forth to school. We had to get ourselves up in the mornings, get breakfast, and get to school on time.

RH@comcast.net

October 7th, 2009
9:25 am

Several poster have commented about laziness, it has nothing to do with that, it has to do with proximity to the school and safety.

If schools and neighborhoods were built like they were when I was growing up, I would let my children walk.

Unfortunately, now, there are very few “neighborhood” schools. Community schools is a better fit in most cases.

Safety, being the most crucial factor, is the main reason most kids don’t walk. Their are more cars on the road and most of those drivers are too busy speeding, using electronic devices, and unfortunately grooimg their way to work!

suzy

October 7th, 2009
9:37 am

I walked to school all the time while growing up and my mom was a stay at home mom so she could have driven me but at that time it was just the thing to do…everyone walked… when it snowed we wore boots… when it rained we wore raincoats. For a year in southern FL, I rode my bike a mile to and from school everyday. Today that is not safe, even as an adult I’m leary of riding my bike on certain roads. Also today the children would complain..heck they do not even want to play outside at recess because “it’s too hot”!

KAW

October 7th, 2009
9:37 am

Yes, we supported National Walk to School Day — in the rain with no sidewalks. Our school, Cheatham Hill Elementary, made sure police officers were aware of the program. The officers were stationed at different locations to ensure the safety of all the walkers. Not only is this a great program to promote exercise and to help the environment, we also hope it will show the County that we need sidewalks connecting our community.

Jesse's Girl

October 7th, 2009
9:38 am

How bout’ NO! Only if we lived very close, would that happen. One of my kids would act-a-fool and get hit:)

Becky

October 7th, 2009
9:45 am

@RH, I mentioned the parents being lazy and I stand by that..When they are with me, we do a lot of walking..We don’t have a computer at our house,so that isn’t an issue..Actually, the girl enjoys walking in the rain..Her and I have done it before when there isn’t any lightening(sp)..

Stan, my Mom used to tell the same story, except she also told of having to feed the animals and gather the eggs before they walked to school..Sometimes with holes in their shoes..

ajay2009

October 7th, 2009
9:47 am

I’d love for my child to be able to walk to school, unfortunately our neighborhood school leaves a lot to be desired. I wish I had done more research before we bought our house. My daughter attends private school about 9 miles away, so she has to get dropped off and picked up.

Not sure what planet...

October 7th, 2009
9:47 am

RH@comcast lives on, but most schools, in most counties, are built in “neighborhoods”. So, what the heck is a “community” school if it is in a neighborhood? We had this topic semi-discussed last week when Theresa blogged about the Gwinnett school re-zonings.

Jesse's Girl

October 7th, 2009
9:53 am

…really wishes that some of you would stop letting your name flow into your comment….it really confuses me sometimes:)

New Stepmom

October 7th, 2009
9:58 am

I did not walk to school but twice a week when I was in 1st and 2nd grade, I walked into town (small town AL) for art lessons with 2 other kids. We walked about 3 blocks and had to pass by the music minister’s window at our church and waive. My granddaddy would always be having coffee with the men a the drug store where we stopped to get a snack. I loved sitting with him for 15 minutes before class started. Mom says she knew if we did not make it to one of those two points, she would know quickly and never worried too much about our walks.

I hope this bun in the oven gets some experiences like that. I still remember how much fun that was. Cherry coke and a twix from Murphy’s drugs and apple gum from Rexall next door.

Candler Park

October 7th, 2009
9:58 am

I think *RH@comcast.net* has it right. Today there are very few neighborhood schools. They’ve all been combined into larger area schools.

This is especially true in the suburbs. The city is less so, probably because the schools are older, been around since the 20s.

But when I lived in the burbs I did notice that, lack of sidewalks or not, schools were just too far away to either walk or bike.

We moved to the city 4 years ago, right before my child started school. We live in Candler Park and our child goes to Mary Lin. It’s less than a mile from our house. We walk to school almost every day. A LOT of kids do. Or they bike. But, it’s a neighborhood school. It’s situated INSIDE the residential area…not seperated from it like a lot of suburban schools. It seems like a lot of suburban schools the school board buys up an old field somewhere to build a new school on. This is likely driven by cost, so it’s somewhat understandable. But you almost never see a suburban school nestled within the residential areas, where there are houses surrounding the school, etc.

Anyway, we did not participate in National Walk to School because of the weather. It was pouring when we left the house. But, we walk most days so I don’t feel too bad.

While I’m here I’d like to extend an invitation to all families to come out to the Candler Park neighborhood this weekend. We are having our annual two-day Candler Park Fall Fest. It’s held in the park our neighborhood is named after (Candler Park). The neighborhood organization puts it on. It’s very family friendly, with a large kids area. There’s lots of live music, Sweetwater beer, and artists booths. It’s a great family festival. Your kids will have a blast and if you’re at all thinking of moving intown it can give you an idea of how nice it is to live here.

http://www.candlerparkfallfest.org/

RH@comcast.net

October 7th, 2009
10:02 am

To Becky, I am NOT lazy nor any of the parents I know LAZY. I stand by that!

To the other poster that wishes to bash me, I live in Cobb County and NO, I would not let my kids walk to school because of the idiot drivers and my proximity to school. What does the Gwinnett redistricting have to do with this, they could rearrange the lines all they wish, they are still community schools, NOT neighborhood schools.

David S

October 7th, 2009
10:04 am

The lucky kids walk to school everyday – from their bedrooms to the kitchen table where a loving and caring parent homeschools them. Occasionally they get in a car and go to interesting cultural places to extend their education or travel to see friends or other educated folks who will share their knowledge with them as part of their education.

Then there are those whose parents force them onto a big yellow bus and send them off to government indoctrination centers.

Rather than forcing your kids to walk to their all-day prison, why don’t you give them a ride and then come home and sit down and figure out how you can make homeschooling work for your kids. They deserve the best.

Stan

October 7th, 2009
10:04 am

Becky,

My Dad grew up poor on a few hundred acre farm on the other side of Athens. So we all knew he had to do his chores before and after school. I beleived his story, well not the snow part, for many years and now look back on it and chuckle :)

Jesse's Girl

October 7th, 2009
10:07 am

Well…as long as you’re not passing judgement David…thats all that counts.

Stan

October 7th, 2009
10:08 am

Wow again with the attacks and folks being overly defensive. RH, I don’t think anyone attacked you, lighten up. David S, I agree that home schooling is better than most public schools, but that is juust a little off topic…say about 8 miles off topic.

Lighten up everyone and have fun!

JJ

October 7th, 2009
10:16 am

Well not all of us can homeschool our kids. We have to work. We don’t have a spouse to provide for the entire family so the kids can stay home with a loving and caring parent.

That and there is NO WAY I would want to home school my child. I need to be out an interact with others, and so does my child. She needs to be exposed to the general public, not shielded in the living room.

RH@comcast.net

October 7th, 2009
10:19 am

Stan: I guess you would call this friendly fire? I would call it an attack…

Not sure what planet… RH@comcast lives on, but most schools, in most counties, are built in “neighborhoods”. So, what the heck is a “community” school if it is in a neighborhood? We had this topic semi-discussed last week when Theresa blogged about the Gwinnett school re-zonings.

Candler Park

October 7th, 2009
10:25 am

Theresa…I had a post that never showed…can you see if it’s stuck in the queue?

BessieBear

October 7th, 2009
10:39 am

Our school is 5 miles away, so no, my kids do not walk. What irks me is seeing the kids who live maybe 4 blocks from the elementary school in our neighborhood, and they are taken there by school bus. Yes, there are sidewalks, and yes, this is a safe neighborhood. And we wonder why so many kids are obese! Does anyone know the official rule on how far away kids have to live to get bus service? If Gwinnett county needs to cut some expenses, I think they should look at cutting bus service to those who live so close.

Also – I drive past this school everyday and see the cars (not really even carpools, since I don’t see many kids in these cars) and they are allowed to line up in the street, blocking traffic at pick-up time. That make for a dangerous situation for the other cars who have to go around them for about 15 minutes each day. That should not be allowed.

This is about laziness, but also about parents not letting kids be more independent. You don’t need to walk a 3rd grader to school, they can handle walking, or riding a half mile or even a mile all by themselves. Parents are overly concerned about kidnapping when the numbers don’t really support that fear.

Did anyone see the AJC article about free-range kids?

Becky

October 7th, 2009
10:46 am

@RH, I wasn’t attacking you, so chill freaking out..If you had of read my first post, you would know that I called my two grandchildrens parents lazy, NOT you or anyone else on here..YOU are the one that mentioned people talking about laziness as an excuse to not walk to school..I love how people only read what they want to “read”, then they start yamering about people being ugly to them..

Stan, I’m sure that a lot of us on here could tell the tall tales that we were told from our parents..Some, I’m sure were 100% truth, some I think might have been altered..Not sure of a lot of the ages on here, but like your Dad, my Mom grew up poor and they also had to learn to do what was needed..

The Grove

October 7th, 2009
10:52 am

Yes, my son loves the fact that he can walk to the new high school that just opened this year about 1-1 1/2 from our house. The trouble is…..our neighbors and the city park that is adjacent to our neighborhood aren’t as excited. Apparently it is a HUGE problem to cut through someones yard and the city park to get to school!! Yes, that’s right…to get to school. The “code inforcement officer” has even stopped the kids and told them they can’t cut through the park without a school ID. ????? What difference does that make…and why is the city park completely fenced in now that the new school opened? Why would we want to elimnate a “safe” route for the kids to walk to schoool??? These kids WANT to go to school….let’s not deter them! I encourage and support kids walking to school as long as there is a safe route to get there and of course, weather permitting.

Becky

October 7th, 2009
10:53 am

@BessieBear, I’m not sure about bus riding here..I have a sister that lives in KY. in a town so small that they only have 2 red lights..She lives directly across from the school playground and when her granddaughter (10) spends the night with her, she has to ride the bus to school..I mean, less than a football field and they make a bus stop to pick her up..Now that seems to be a little much for me..

Sick of this voice

October 7th, 2009
10:53 am

I am usually a Theresa bassher, but here goes: You support the concept, but to walk .5 miles with no sidewalk OR walk 3 miles with 2 elementary kids’ bookbags (all heavy with their calculys books and latest dioramas)is too much?!?!?!? OK, whatever.

AJC, can we please hear from some diverse working wives/moms who do not work part-time from home and who represent professions besides authors or journalists? Perhaps from some who are less privileged, earn near the national median income, and work primarily for the financial benefits instead of having a career as a form of self-expression? Can we hear from women who work in retail, healthcare, IT, the hard sciences?

I think we need some new voices in the parenting and work/life balance debates. Or i could just be bitter! :)

Sick of this voice

October 7th, 2009
10:55 am

Umm, forgive the typos above! I meant that I am normally NOT a basher. And the kids may have calculus books too!

I would not consider...

October 7th, 2009
10:56 am

…necessarily, “growing up on a few hundred acre farm” as being “poor”. Maybe they did not have a lot of money and had to raise food, chickens, and cows to eat, but being land rich but money poor is not “poor”. Did you inherit the farm?

At RH – chill lady – schools in Cobb County are built in neighborhoods, too – have you ever been to Wheeler or Walton HS – or any other school in Cobb County? Just because the lines get re-drawn every few years does not mean that the schools are not first put into “neighborhoods”. Quit with the semantics playing!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 7th, 2009
10:58 am

Hey candler park – I’ll look for it –

JJ

October 7th, 2009
11:02 am

Sick of this – most of us on this blog are diverse/professional wives/moms, and there are a few dads, and the majority of us work outside the home. We have a few stay at home moms, and a few who work part time. What’s your point?

Yes, Sick of this voice...

October 7th, 2009
11:02 am

…you are “bitter” – on this site you DO hear from all of the “women who work in retail, healthcare, IT, the hard sciences?” And most of these are “voices in the parenting and work/life balance debates” – so stick that in your bitterness and get over yourself!

Stan

October 7th, 2009
11:10 am

RH, Sorry I did not see that post when I made mine.

Sick of this voice

October 7th, 2009
11:22 am

I understand the responders are diverse. I meant that it would be interesting to have a Therasa replaced with someone with a different perspective.

As a black working wife and mom, with many highly educated and less educated working friends and relatives who are also wives and moms, I rarely read anything that seems to reflect the any of the varied day-to-day lives of the women I know. In reading chick-lit stuff, current feminist treatises, mommy war propaganda and various parenting blogs and forums, I get the feeling it is the same few women (definately th who author all these works.

It seems that most of the authors of high profile work/life profile pieces well-educated, financially-comfortable writers/authors/journalists/ac­ademics/(and occasionally)attorneys.

HB

October 7th, 2009
11:23 am

I think walking to school is a great idea but difficult for many in pedestrian-unfriendly, sprawling Atlanta. I think this idea could use a bit of tweaking to involve more students. In the DC suburban area, there has been a push simply to walk part-way to school. Basically, that has meant offering fewer bus stops and almost none inside large subdivisions where streets are pretty quiet and have low speed limits, so it’s generally safe for children to walk to the front gate even without sidewalks. How close together are bus stops in the Atlanta area? Could they be spread out encouraging kids to walk a little further if walking all the way to school isn’t viable?