Monday, November 15, 2010

News Roundup - The Dangers of the School Run

The Mitcham, Morden and Wimbledon Post reports concern from local residents that Sunnyhill Primary School will be expanding to cope with the rising birthrate. The worry is - guess what - about traffic and parking. "You can't park in this street now" said one. "It will become even more difficult." Another complained "The roads around here are already rat runs. There will be even more traffic with the expansion." The Headmaster has suggested making Sunnyhill Road one-way to ease congestion and introducing parking permits. 
One-way streets are no solution. They may ease traffic flow in the short term but they also tend to increase the amount of traffic and the danger to vulnerable road users.
A local Lib Dem councillor said "The objection is understandable. We need some kind of traffic control." Traffic control? Now there's an idea. Maybe there shouldn't be significant traffic in the area around a school. Maybe instead there should be safe routes so kids can walk and cycle to school, instead of being driven there. That way, the traffic problems would be solved, and the residents (many of whom likely don't see how cycling can benefit them) would be happy.

Driving kids to school (and everywhere else) is a bad thing not only because of the traffic chaos it causes, but also the effect it has on childrens' health. The BBC is reporting the  return of rickets, a childhood disease caused by vitamin D deficiency that had been all but eliminated. It is due to kids not being exposed to enough sunlight. It is partly related to the use of sunblock, but also to a lifestyle where children do not play outside, and are driven almost everywhere instead of walking or cycling. After all, you are not a responsible parent if you expose your child to the dangers of today's roads. You must wrap your little ones in cotton wool and transport them in luxury.

That's the toxic cycle of car dependency. More traffic equals more danger. More danger puts people off cycling and walking, which results in more car use, which equals more traffic and more danger, followed by the onset of congestion and parking problems. Then finally the diseases of a sedentary lifestyle kick in. We're driving our kids into an early grave. As a response, the Coalition are cutting spending on cycling and sport, axing speed cameras, and have put McDonalds and KFC in charge of health eating (no, I'm not joking).

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