Sunday, July 19, 2015

Swegle Gaffe and Playground Upgrade together show Disconnect on Walking and Biking

A couple of days ago there was a nice note about using extra proceeds in the school bond measure to upgrade several school playground facilities.

But then earlier in the month was a piece about a distinctly not-nice note to parents that had inadvertently got through the editorial and administrative filters at Swegle.

Something else the school district might have considered was upgrading bike parking facilities at schools and then investing in age-appropriate biking and walking instruction to reduce the amount of parental car trips for drop-off and pick-up. (The instruction, of course, wouldn't be eligible for the bond funds, but it sure seems like bike parking upgrades could be an appropriate capital investment.)

If the autoist drop-off and pick-up creates extra demands on school parking lot facilities, demands for staffing extra "traffic cop" positions, and devolves extra and unwanted "baby-sitting" or "daycare" tasks on staff, maybe there a system problem, and the system needs to be changed!

It seems like the current auto-centric approach is just adding epicycles to an increasingly clunky set of arrangements that are in a feedback loop going in the wrong direction.

September, 2013
There is a big disconnect in our approach to physical activity and to school transportation.

Another Disconnect 

Though the story today is primarily about a lack of prior planning and seeming non-responsiveness by a Federal agency, you also have ask: Why the heck is any senior and disabled housing on a steep hill in a neighborhood without sidewalks, distant from any commercial hubs aside from two convenience stores?

This is like siting the VA and SSS offices in the industrial wasteland on McGilchrist!

Maybe this isn't a good place at all for this kind of housing.

(Also interesting to note: The way the public right-of-way has been assimilated into quasi private parking stalls on which strong personal claims are made.)

Good News

Salem Weekly was on the story a couple of weeks ago, but it's nice to see the daily pick it up also.

While it won't increase the frequency or timeliness of bus service, it will at least make the walk and wait just a little bit more interesting. It'll be fun to watch the project evolve and grow.

Update, August 5th

Here's more on the painted bus shelters.


Jim Scheppke said...

Great post SBOB. We count on you for having an interesting take on the stories we read in the SJ every day. I want to agree that the Salem-Keizer School District Board should look at how walking and biking can really be strongly encouraged in our schools. There may need to be some carrots or sticks, or both. I know they have made some half-hearted efforts, but they haven't made a difference. I live a few blocks from South High and we have a growing problem with cars lining our streets when school is in session. Neighbors are fighting back by creating Residential Parking zones, but that just moves the problem out to the blocks (like mine) that haven't done that yet. During the Great Recession the problem diminished, but now it's growing. I think when mom and dad can afford a new car they give the old car to junior to drive to school. Bad idea. My narrow residential street is really unsafe with student cars parked on both sides.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

A few years ago there was a huge effort to create 'walking school buses' by Kate Tarter. She got a grant and everything. The concept was to help organize walking/biking groups with a parent leader to help get parents over the fear of letting their children walk/ride to school. This worked in a few places, but never really took off. I am sure that a big part is that not enough parents are able to volunteer. Most households are either two parents working or single parent. Then there is the weather. Some moms combine picking up the kids with the need to take them somewhere other than home.

Parking and picking up is a huge issue. I worked for several years on helping the School District to realize that every elementary school needed an 'in and an out' road, so that there was not the need or temptation to park outside the parking area, because it was too difficult to get in and out quickly. But that is another issue.

A lot of children do walk, but of course not everyone. It doesn't take many cars to create problems though. Ironically, the whole idea of having neighborhood schools is to embed them into residential areas, so that kids can walk....but it causes other problems.