This past October 3 schools all over the U.S. were invited to participate in Walk to School Day. Kids were encouraged to walk or bike to school in an effort to promote positive things like bike safety, a cleaner environment, and good health.
A cul-de-sac dwelling colleague of mine who shall remain nameless and who sports a whopping WalkScore of 2 at her home, received this official e-mail from her school district last week.
“Due to wet and the slippery conditions of the walking path, Walk to School Day will be postponed until Friday, October 5.”
Are you kidding me? It was wet that day. Sixty Degrees. No snow, hurricanes, tornadoes, or escaped meat-eating animals from the zoo.
I am certain that the school district leaders see no shame in calling off the walk plans. More importantly though, I am doubly sure that they see no connection between their own decisions to close older schools in traditional neighborhoods and build new ones in the outer reaches of the surrounding townships with the fact that it is becoming virtually impossible for anyone to lead a walkable lifestyle. I see similar land use decisions repeated all over Michigan and throughout the country. School districts, especially the growing ones, throw good planning principles in the trash in lieu of big, shiny new structures that sit on cheap land in the hinter regions. Decisions like these are unsustainable, a poor use of tax dollars, and contribute to unhealthy communities. Moreover virtually ALL OF THE DEMOGRAPHIC STUDIES show that unwalkable suburban style development continues to fall in popularity among the home buying/renting public, so you can throw the lack of long-term economic viability into the negative mix of as well.