Celebrating a Year of Alternative Transportation

I realized recently that a year had passed since I have had a personal car. No fan fare really, more I just looked at the calendar and realized it. So what better way to celebrate than to drive home a petty point? Our local school district goes back to school next week, with ginormous changes. We jump from 4 to 6 elementary schools, open a brand new 4 year high school in the center of town, and the Junior High Schools go to 3 year. It’s a mess to say the least – and for the first time the district is imposing a walking policy for people living within a mile (or so) who can safely walk to school. To say there has been pitchforks and raging hissy fits is an understatement. I do get the anger, change sucks. However, as a parent to kids who will now be bussed 5 miles across town, literally past 2 other elementary schools (which two we could walk to) my sympathy meter is low. I’d love if my kids could walk or bike to school. That won’t happen though, and I’ve dealt with my anger over it. (I can’t even walk to their school safely – a big chunk of it is missing sidewalks, and the school is actually outside of town, on the far side)

But to listen to these parents carry on, you’d think they had the worst commute ever. So I put on the kids’ shoes yesterday, and we walked an urban route, part of which covered the route these children will walk this Fall. Was it hard?

The first complaint is about hills. After walking about 1.5 miles, we crossed the state highway 516 in town, and headed up this hill. We made it up the hill in no time. It wasn’t hard, and no one needed to stop for a breath. (Looking back to the highway in the far distance) It’s an average 2 lane road, with a decent side-walk on one side. Our youngest is 5 and is asthmatic (however, I did pick a low forest fire smoke day, so I did cherry pick that)

At the top of the hill, it turns and heads back down (not visible, at the bottom it dumps out onto Highway 169, the other state road that runs through our town) It’s the same type road. The sidewalk is even nicer here.

Looking back, the boys were plodding along happily.

All this, and we passed the school in question. Love the salmon though on the fence!

A little farther and we turned onto the Green to Cedar Rivers Trail, that parallels Highway 169. The boys took a break and did some wild crafting with items found on the ground. It’s one of Walker’s favorite things to do when we hike.

The hike back into town was peaceful on the trail. We stopped for lunch, and then continued back home on the trail (we live on it). At the end, we had walked 4.26 miles. The boys were not tired – in fact, later in the day we walked back into town to do some shopping. But I proved my point to myself. That the hills were not as bad as made out to be, and that it wasn’t a bad walk. After all, if I am going to argue on Facebook, I better be able to back up my claims….which I did. The children will be just fine. And they probably will like it.

I still feel, a year out, that we are too dependent on cars. Cars let us live a lifestyle that we want. Life without a personal vehicle changes that quickly. We are resilient – and we can do it. Walking doesn’t make me feel third world, I feel free now – when I am not in a car I am nicer person. I don’t have to circle a lot to park, I just walk in. Would this work if I lived in the country? Not so much. But where I live now it does. And finding a car has dropped very low on my things to do list.

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