Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rant. Only Slightly Like Andy Rooney.

Does anyone walk to school anymore?

When I was in elementary school, my brother and I walked (or biked) to school most days. It was about three miles round-trip, and there were two big hills. There was also one very hazardous intersection, requiring crossing about 8 lanes of traffic via stepping-stones of four traffic islands. It was a lot like playing Frogger. But there was a nice crossing-guard lady who helped us across and said good morning and told us to be safe.

The other day, going to Green Acres, I passed the elementary school of a small town en route. Up and down the street by the school, kids were standing out on the sidewalks waiting for the school bus. None were more than a quarter-mile from the school. Some were within sight of the school. I don't get it.

It's similar in my residential city area. The elementary school is smack in the middle of the neighborhood, surrounded by houses in all directions-- but I almost never see a kid walking to school. We do have crossing guards in the neighborhood-- at least ten of them-- but like the unneeded Maytag repair man, their job is very dull. In cold weather, some just sit in their idling cars parked near their assigned intersection. One fellow (across from my house) lounges in lawn chair in warm weather, listening to the radio. His hand-held STOP sign fits conveniently under the chair. I have never seen him have to get up to walk a kid across the street.

I was particularly appalled yesterday when I saw one of the crossing guards with a cigarette dangling from his lips. He needed both hands free to operate the lottery scratch-ticket he was using. His STOP sign was parked under his armpit.


Blogger C Neal said...

I see kids walking down Spring Street all the time in the mornings. However...

Yesterday I was out by Exit 3 in South Portland yesterday evening on my bike. A 5 minute walk north of that intersection is Redbank, a big neighborhood full of low- and middle-income families. 5 minutes' walk to the south is the middle school and an elementary school. And smack dab in the middle is I-295 Exit 3, which Augusta recently reconstructed as a Pedestrian Eradication Facility - there's a faint crosswalk across a 4-lane freeway offramp, then a narrow sidewalk under three dark freeway overpasses, and then another crossing of a 5-lane road.

Remember that pedestrians don't pay gas taxes, which pay for traffic engineers' salaries. Pay your tithe or pay a visit to the trauma ward.

3/25/09, 9:08 AM  

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