Walking half a mile to school

Today’s paper (yes, it’s still the paper, even if I read it on a Kindle) has the usual weekly “what’s not working” feature.

This time, it was a particular city bus line (not my city) that is apparently somewhat unreliable at one particular time of weekday mornings.

The problem? If the bus wasn’t there, some kids would have to walk to school. A school described as “more than half a mile away,” which presumably means less than two-thirds of a mile away.

Half a mile? Really?

I’m not inclined to say anything negative about today’s kids (although this may be about today’s parents). There may be many reasons why we seem to be suffering an explosion of overweight, getting even worse among younger folks. But one reason is probably a general lack of ordinary exercise–like, for example, walking.

Half a mile at my full walking pace is an eight-minute walk. But I walk fast. Let’s say 12-14 minutes. I’m guessing that’s less time than it takes to stand there waiting for the bus, ride the bus, and walk to school from the bus stop. And, while it’s not a lot of exercise, if done twice a day it’s more than a mile, which is at least a decent start.

This is where I should bemoan that when I was growing up we walked three miles each way to and from school, in the snow, uphill in both directions. That isn’t true, of course. I lived fairly close to my elementary school–more than half a mile but probably less than a mile. A little bit of downhill going, uphill coming back, but not enough to be significant. (The daily “walk around the block” my wife and I take–every day except hiking Wednesday–includes a *lot* more and steeper uphill. It’s also around 1.3 miles.) Never, ever in the snow: In the nearly 16 years I lived in Modesto, it only snowed once with the snow sticking for more than an hour, and I was a high school senior at the time.

Half a mile (or “more than half a mile”) is really too far for schoolkids to walk? That seems sad.

2 Responses to “Walking half a mile to school”

  1. laura says:

    I walked anywhere from a block to 1.5 miles to school in various weather, only sometimes uphill. Sigh.

  2. Kate W says:

    I think it’s not the length of the walk, it’s how dangerous it is to walk. Two scenarios: 1. It’s Chicago and the half mile is across varied gang territories, or 2. It’s somewhere where everyone drives their kid to school so kids on foot get hit. #2 is true in my school district – some parents won’t let their kids walk to school even on Walk To School Days thus more cars thus less safe for walkers thus more cars. And then they go in circles: my neighbor doesn’t let her kids walk, it must not be safe!

    I did around a mile in elementary and middle school and a mile and a half in high school.