The morning rush hour is jammed by parents driving their kids to school, despite most of them living only 20 minutes away from the school gates. Isn’t it about time this tradition was left in the past?
My husband made up a song for our daughter recently that I hummed to myself on my morning cycle commute yesterday.
“Nine smelly cars driving on the road, nine smelly cars driving on the road; if one smelly car would only stay at home, there’d be eight smelly cars driving on the road…”
The traffic yesterday was atrocious. The start of the school term combined with a Tube strike made it a smog-filled, road-raging and congested journey.
From time to time when the exhaust fumes cleared, what dawned on me most was the fact that so many of the cars were made up of parents and school children.
The 2009 National Travel Survey states that two in five primary school pupils are driven to school and that these trips have actually increased as a proportion of all car trips in the morning rush hour in the last ten years.
Across the UK, car trips in the morning rush now represent 14% of all journeys, and if you just look at those in our cities, they account for 21%. Yet, despite all this, according to the charity Living Streets, who run Walk to School week in schools, the majority of primary school pupils live within a 20 minute walk of their school.
Claims and counter claims about children being starved of exercise or at risk from ‘stranger danger’ are rife, and parents at school gates shout that “there’s no alternatives to driving!”
But is this true? Where are the good and long-lasting examples that will change this growing phenomenon? Can we only hope for more cars as our population grows? I’d like to think not.