In my previous post, I mentioned how living car-light opened my eyes to the benefits of providing people with transportation choices and the negative outcomes of driving an automobile. While this is true, I believe my frustration with living in an automobile-centric society started sometime during high school when I could no longer take the school bus to school (started community college) or have my parents drive me everywhere. As many Northwest Cabarrus High School students experience, I was forced to get a driver’s license. However, I waited as long as possible to get my driver’s license. I got a driver’s license after I turned 18 when I needed to drive 1.5 miles from Northwest Cabarrus High School to Rowan Cabarrus Community College. If there was a bus to transport me, sidewalks, bike lanes, or a greenway, I probably would not have gotten a driver’s license during high school. Surprisingly, according to this article, I’m not the only teenager or young adult that doesn’t want to get a driver’s license.
Even though I didn’t care much about it before college, I wish I would have been able to walk or bike to school. As the below video discusses, only 13% of students walked or biked to school in 2009. This is down from nearly 50% in 1969, which is around the time when my parents went to school.
One of the reasons why I couldn’t easily walk or bike to school was how far I lived from school. I lived 5.5 miles from Odell Elementary School, 4 miles from Northwest Cabarrus Middle School, 12 miles from the School for Environmental Studies (transferred here because I was in a wheelchair after an automobile accident in middle school), and 4 miles from Northwest Cabarrus High School. Even if I lived nearby, it wasn’t safe to walk or bike to school. The largest barriers to me walking and biking to school were no sidewalks, bike lanes, greenways, bike racks, and crossing two or four lane highways with a 55 mph speed limit.
Thankfully, it is possible to walk and bike to school in the United States. Portland, OR is working hard to make it safe enough to walk and bike to school. Watch the below video to learn about the exciting things that Portland is doing. I will be moving to Portland this Saturday so look forward to learning more about Portland’s Safe Routes to School program.