The Daily Scot Bathgate reminds us that it is September and parents are wrangling their children back to school. At a time that active transportation and lessening car use is being vigorously pursued, Mayor of Calgary Naheed Nenshi is reassuring parents that the Calgary transit system is just fine for kids to take to school. While Calgary does provide those distinctive yellow school buses for most students, children that may be farther away or going to particular schools are provided with a financial rebate to purchase a monthly transit pass.
There’s even a program called Bus Buddies where older students taking Calgary transit provide companionship and guidance to younger students taking the conventional bus. As the Mayor notes, “Calgary transit is committed to the safety and convenience of every passenger – particularly, our youngest passengers.”
Turn to Vancouver where a Dad who has led the way raising his five kids downtown in an apartment and blogging about it has been turned in to the Provincial ministry of Children and Family Services for allowing his four oldest children, aged seven to eleven to ride the transit bus together to school .
Adrian Crook’s “5 Kids 1 Condo” blog follows his life creating independence for his kids. That included, in this car free family, learning how to take the bus by themselves. As the National Post states: “In a letter from a ministry lawyer dated Aug. 2, Crook was told that a court would likely agree that his arrangement raises “protection concerns.” Arguably, a child moving around in the community exposes the child to at least the same level of risk as being home alone, if not greater risk.”
Now Adrian had spoken with TransLink, the local transit provider to ensure that it was all right for his kids to travel together to school on the bus unaccompanied, and found that their policy was that such independent travel was okay, as long as the parents were comfortable the children could accomplish the trip. But just like the Free Range Kids project reported in the Atlantic Monthly our society is designed to keep kids under control and indoors. Only 13 per cent of children in the United States walk to school, and a mere 6 per cent of kids between the ages of 9 to 13 play outside in any given week. Children and independence are two terms not spoken of in the same sentence.
It should be no surprise that this kids’ dad has launched a Go Fund Me page to pay for a legal challenge to protect the rights of responsible parents to choose the transportation method that best fits their family, without interference from the government.”
Is this one of those things that we will look back on and wonder why we didn’t allow kids to use the bus? How do single parent families manage? For children who are restricted to walking and biking, should independent transit use in the company of older siblings be part of their mobility plan to school?
Source: National Post