Not so long ago, kids walked and biked to their neighborhood school as a matter of course. Now, there’s a federal government program that spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to prod students and parents to do what used to be second nature: bike and walk to school.
An estimated 42 percent of America’s school-age children walked or biked to school in 1969; today that number is an astonishing 13 percent. Many families find that walking or biking to school is a luxury they can’t afford while juggling two jobs, daycare schedules and extracurricular activities. And, unlike 40 years ago, concerns about young children walking to school alone are an important deciding factor in many parents’ decision to drive or bus kids to school. Nevertheless, Congress voted to ignore these realities in 2005 when designing the Safe Routes to School (SRTS)program “to reverse the decline in children walking and bicycling to schools”.