Thursday, September 4, 2008

Do not let students who were hit walking to school stop you from walking or bicycling places...

Two students in Salem Oregon got hit yesterday in a crosswalk walking to school – on their first day of school. They were doing the right thing, crossing at a crosswalk designated for drivers to stop.

The driver did not stop. He was only cited for failing to stop at a crosswalk, not for hitting two children.

It was the first day back for students and perhaps drivers are not looking for students, but in general, it shows how we as an American society have a ways to go when it comes to people getting out and walking and bicycle riding places. It is such a rare thing in some communities that drivers do not think: Oh, crosswalk, beware of pedestrians.

Instead, drivers are in a hurry to make it to their next destination.

Part of the issue is that many people who drive frankly never walk or bicycle themselves so they just do not know what it is like out there. In suburbia where I live, it is harder to walk and bicycle anywhere. Sidewalks are missing or simply end. Bike lanes just stop as well.
Even in designated crosswalk areas, you are competing with cars to get across the street when the light blinks walk for you and is green for the cars.

What made me especially sad for the two Salem students hit by the car on their way to school, is their comment afterwards: “We are going to get a ride tomorrow to school. From now on.”
I do not blame them in a way, but really, instead, I wish more people would take up walking and bicycle riding to school – and to other places – so that it is not such an unusual site to see people walking. The more people that walk, the more others will watch out for them, the more cautious people will be.

I admire the yearly Walk To School Day, which encourages entire school communities to walk to school.
There is strength in numbers for sure. I organized a couple of these events for my children’s school at Cedar Oak Park in West Linn a few years ago, and we had a great time. It was fun to watch cars do a double take when they saw 100 students cross Highway 43.

And, one school district in Nevada is encouraging parents to walk their kids to school not just once a year but every day.
Congestion around schools is incredibly stressful in many school districts, including this one in Nevada, which prompted this school to take action. The specific program is a first step in getting kids to walk to school; in this case, it has parents parking in a location away from the school then walking the rest of the way with their kids to school. Great start.

I would take it a step farther. Walk all the way to school with your child. Yes, it takes time, but the rewards are incredible. Fresh air. Exercise. Time with your child. Conversation.
Walking with your children – or bicycling with them – promotes exercise and togetherness, plus it saves the planet and gas money.

I find it quite interesting how school buses pick up kids who live so close to school. I think kids who live a half mile away from school should walk or bicycle. Also, school buses stop every third or fourth house sometimes in certain districts. My sister has told me about this in her district.

Let the kid walk to a neighbor’s house to catch the bus. Some districts, due to higher fuel prices are doing just this. California has eliminated school buses for thousands of children. Washington state and elsewhere are consolidating school bus stops.

In Germany, kids always walk or ride their bicycles to school. There is no school bus and parents do not tend to drive. It is a whole different way of looking at transportation. In American suburbs, it will take time to get people to think about walking and bicycling places; it will take grass roots efforts.

I hope the situation in Salem will not hinder but instead encourage more students to walk or bicycle to school. Yet, as these students found out, even at a crosswalk, you still have to be careful. That is what I teach my kids as they begin to venture out on their own, walking or bicycling places. Even when you have the right-of-way, still watch out.

But do not give up. Instead, ask others to join you, including your parents.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Woman Vice President Candidate gets People talking about Juggling Motherhood and Family Life

Tonight, Alaskan governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave her speech at the Republican National Convention.

She was sharp, she was funny, she was smart, she had things to say. She showed compassion and she has a Downs Syndrome Child whom she adores and is just as proud of as her other four children.

I loved how she started the speech by saying that the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull is lip stick. She talked about all she did as governor - the biggest things related to taking on big government and that was impressive.

The luxury jet owned by the state of Alaska she sold on e-bay for 2.1 million dollars! Got to love that one.

Wow. As governor, she got rid of the personal driver and personal chef, all luxuries she could have taken advantage of as governor of Alaska. These were examples of how she nixed the wasteful government spending and saved hard working tax payers half a billion dollars.

The talk has been so much about how this woman can juggle being a mom of five children and vice president at the same time. She has already proven herself.

And, as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said just prior to Palin speaking, we would never question a male politician's ability to lead based upon the number of children he has. Interesting thoughts. I venture to add to that- a democratic woman. . . just asking...

As a working mother of five myself multitasking is par for the course. I readily admit, and have written about, that it is never easy to juggle, and sometimes you cannot have it all. Something does give and a supportive family helps. It is Palin's choice to work and we should never question her ability to ability to work based upon the number of children she has. Nor, her ability to parent based upon her job.

Republican or democrat aside, give Sarah Palin a chance to show what she knows. And what she can do.

BACK TO SCHOOL. . . kindergartener is my last child

I told my 5-year-old who started kindergarten today that he could not grow up so quickly.

He says, "I have to."

He is my youngest. I am sad. I am happy. I am reflective. I am conflicted.

On the one hand, I will have a full 17 and a half hours a week to myself... What will I do with myself. I have not had that much time to myself since my second oldest, now 17, started kindergarten 12 years ago. I will have quiet. Time to be still. To work in peace. Uninterrupted.

But, it means change and kids not as dependent on me and my little circle at home being not the same any more.

Back to school. What a fun time. Especially for our youngest in the house. . . I reflect more on this in my Oregonian blog - KIDDO page WriterMom blog on the following link-


Hidden Lake


Cousins bicycling at Champeog Park

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