A couple posts ago I wrote about the dangers that cars pose to children. One of the repercussions of those dangers is an increase in cars on the road as the number of parents driving their kids to school increases to keep their own kids from getting hit by all the cars on the road. Doo-da, doo-da.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and my pal Kim point out that another reason parents drive their kids to school is because it’s too damn far for them to walk. Kim tells me that she’d love a light rail system that would allow her to take her beautiful son to school and then take her to work, but no such system exists right now where she lives (although a lot of people have been fighting for years for it to happen).
The CDC tells me that although the number of kids in the US has increased by 2 million since 1969, the number of schools has decreased by a thousand. Which means a lot more people are living further away from schools.
Let’s look at the equation:People + Babies – Schools – Transportation
If you’re going to take away schools and build houses far away from schools that do exist, you’ve got to provide a way for people get their kids to the distant school—and everything else for that matter. I know some of you are thinking: What ever happened to the school bus? Well, it got too expensive. Many school districts have had to cut transportation or push the cost to parents because paying for the gas and maintenance on busses ain’t cheap and if you haven’t noticed, the country is broke and we have a bit of a revenue problem.
So, if you’re going to go that route where people need to travel significant distances to get things done like go to school and work, you’ve got to create a system that doesn’t cause serious health problems—like dying. And the way you do that? Rail.
They had that figured out a long time ago. And it works so well that they’re still doing it in a few places. Like Asia. And Europe. And… Well… pretty much everywhere except the U.S. So, why did we stop? Big money in the automotive industry bought up rail to get rid of it, which then forced America to become a car-dependent culture and created even bigger money for the automotive industry. I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory. But it happened, so let’s be very clear, it wasn’t a natural progression for the U.S. to just start driving everywhere. It was a disastrous manipulation.
If we had kept rail it would have created a sound structure for regional development, because it would help define where people live. As it is, however, we build wherever and however it’s the cheapest—which includes flood planes and other areas susceptible to natural disaster—and throw down more blacktop and all the infrastructure that goes along with it to accommodate that sprawl.
But you know what, there’s an even better way to ensure kids can get to schools safely. Don’t take away the frickin’ school. I’ll get into that next time.