Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Cold War

Over the course of the last couple of days, I've exchanged more email pertaining to the whole kids riding bikes to school bit. I attended the Biking in the Burbs meeting last week where I met the transportation supervisor for the Roseville Area schools, Jan Vanderwall. He's a likable guy, seems interested in bikes as a form of transportation, but I think this bit of a quote from him sums up so much of the problems we face as a society:

"I believe we won't get safe bicycling for students until we have a cultural change and acceptance of more bike riders on the road. We can certainly start that conversation, but there is no strong likelihood of biking like when we were kids until we see more bicycling commuters in our community. There are more cars and higher speeds now than then. Another issue I worry about around schools is parents driving their kids to school who are dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists. "

So, let's see; we'll let kids ride to school when there are more bicycle commuters? Maybe we will get more commuters when we see that there are kids doing it? Sounds like the cold war if you ask me. "I'll put away my car as soon as the next guy puts away his." mentality. Umm... hello, couldn't we start the cultural revolution with our kids? Isn't that where we started indoctrinating our kids with all of our other environmental and conservation efforts? Aren't they the ones we are so concerned about in terms of health and exercise... that whole idea of our future generation.

I was thinking on my ride to the school... What if the Roseville Area Schools came out with a huge media blitz: "We're not just worried about the problems of childhood obesity, rampant energy consumption, traffic, and pollution. We're doing something about it! Look out for kids in Roseville. We're severely limiting parent pickup, cutting back busing, and offering a revolutionary program promoting healthy lifestyles at a young age through our Safe Routes to School program. We're soliciting parent volunteers and older kids for neighborhood ride coordinators. We'll be starting after-school bicycle wellness and safety classes and group fun-rides. We'll be working with area bike shops for weekend social rides and seminars on products to make cycling part of your lifestyle. We're working with businesses within the community to offer discounts to pedestrians or cyclists....etc... etc..."

I will keep pushing... as for my own efforts... I am amazed by the simple way in which miles add up when I really don't think of it. I rode my bike up to the Red Cross to donate blood this afternoon. The nurse asked if I was feeling okay when she took my vitals before donating blood... I had been warm from the ride up and I was noticeably sweaty. Maybe she thought that I was nervous about donating blood.

It's about 3.5 miles up to the Shoreview location from my house, so not really a big ride. Got there, ran up the stairs to the 3rd floor, checked in, glanced at the required reading material, passed it back and into the room for vitals. All of about 5 minutes from the time that I locked up my bike. Pulse 62, blood pressure 126 / 74, temp 98.6. Perfectly normal, I passed. Answered all of the health screening questions and sat down to wait at 3:36. It wasn't until 3:48 that I was seated at the chair to donate blood. Out of there by 4:06. Not bad. So much for the recommended 10 minutes rest in the snack area or for no "strenuous activity or lifting." I wonder if picking up my bike that had blown over in the wind or riding my bike to the kids school counts?

Off riding in the rain to the kids school, where I was greeted with absolutely no bike rack so I locked it to an I-Beam supporting the canopy by the entrance. I felt very safe by the way approaching and departing the school. Rode back home after the festivities at school: "portfolio night" for Kayla, book fair, and a spaghetti dinner. Total mileage 9.5. That surprised me as I don't really think that I had gone anywhere. I guess that is how the mileage adds up on peoples' cars too.

3 comments:

cyclofiend said...

Man...through the looking glass there, mate.

The line in that quote which caught my attention was "Another issue I worry about around schools is parents driving their kids to school who are dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists."

Lemme get this straight...he doesn't want kids to ride to school until he can get the parents who are driving their kids to school to do so safely. So, those kids should stay safely in their parents cars until that time.

Okey-dokey...

Hang in there - it may seem as though nothing is happening, but I'd bet you're putting small cracks into a large dam, and pretty soon pressure will do the rest of the job.

-- Jim

-d said...

keep workin'. I'm doing what I can here with SRTS and our local org. Do you guys get any support fomr the Local Bike Shops? We really don't, and it is sad.

Gordy said...

You are on the right track. What would happen if the school put the blitz out, "We can apply more funding to hire more teachers if we reduce our rising fuel costs by having children bicycle to school. We expect the community to support this by helping police the streets and behave in an appropriate manner toward our child cyclists. They are our future and showing them alternatives to buses and cars will start them thinking beyond the standard making a generation of free thinkers to guide the country in the future."

Yeah, I know, stupid bloody dreamer.

Go dude go.

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