Sunday, 3 February 2013

Decarbonising The School Run

Part of the routine we’ve established in recent months is that I walk the Bairn to nursery on a Friday morning. She takes great delight in “reminding” me the way to go. I insist I’ve forgotten and she plays along by explaining as we walk where we’re going and the landmarks we passing. The route to nursery seems kind of obvious from our house but in a society where car is king it’s actually a bit of faff trying to take a direct line.

Lucy was tired of pooper-scooping
There’s car parks, railings, disappearing pavements, roadworks, construction sites, scaffolding, illegally parked vehicles, unbearably slow pedestrian crossings and passing traffic comprising half asleep motorists texting, HGVs that shudder to a sudden halt when the lights go amber and exhaust fume-tastic convoys of buses.Oh, and the last wee bit of the walk is referred to by the Bairn as Poo Lane. (Hum the popular CBeebies theme 64 Zoo Lane and it’ll seem hilarious. Sticky floor, sticky floor, Poo Lane. Some poos are large, some poos are small, some get cleaned by the council, some never at all…)

There’s been a fair bit of debate locally about the issue of parents’ determination to park within millimetres of a school or nursery’s front door. And there’s always a concern that our obesity crisis is made worse by the fact that very few kids walk to school these days. But of course if you work chances are it’s easiest for you to use a car to drop the wean off, head for the office, and pop into the supermarket on the way home. I have sympathy for that arrangement but sometimes I see such inconsiderate parking - and quite often engines left running - that I find myself tutting out loud. I know. I’m basically an anarchist.

It’s a real challenge for proper Greenies. How do you decarbonise the School Run? I’m only doing it one day out of five and the day in question is one where I can arrive at the office a bit later than usual. I also do the sort of work that can be done or partially done using a BlackBerry or a broadband connection at home. Added to that I cycle to the office.

It would be really interesting to know what all the motoring parents dropping their kids off at our local school do for a living and how society or some level of government could assist in working out a way to meet work and family commitments without needing to burn loads of fossil fuels. I suppose there’s the electric car revolution (any day now I’m sure - jet packs too) but of course you’d need lots more nice power from renewables or it’d be pointless. It probably makes more sense to reduce the need to travel in the first place. Certainly half of all the traffic that passes through our town is just that - passing through. The glum looks of the lone drivers (doesn’t anybody car share?) suggest they have no option but to endure the daily jam. I wonder if that’s really the case.

It’s so important when developments are planned in our communities that they are either within walking/cycling distance of an existing school or a new school is made part of the development. Employers could have incentives for home-working or at least flexibility for employees to do a low carbon School Run. For those whose jobs involve early or late starts and finishes we could have more breakfast clubs and after-school clubs to help.

Just think of the benefits if parents and kids got a walk each day along streets not choked with traffic particulates. Better for our pockets and better for our health. Yet somehow I can’t quite see the back of the daily jam just yet.

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