Monday, May 3, 2010

CicLAvia

Sometimes, my son and I carpool with an older girl who goes to his school. I do have to leave the house a couple of minutes earlier than usual, but I'm glad to be helping out another mom and getting another car off the road.

Since the weather has been lovely lately, I wanted to bike to school one morning and include this other child in our ride.

The mom was fine with the idea, but her ten-year-old daughter wasn't. The poor girl was mortally terrified, it turns out, of being hit by a car. I tried to reassure them that it would be an all-sidewalk ride, with only two street crossings, one of which would have a signal, but she was just too frightened to attempt it.

I found this terribly sad, especially when reflecting on my own childhood, that a ten-year-old girl would be afraid to attempt a four-block ride. It wasn't that long ago that it was a commonplace occurrence for kids to bike or walk to school, but in the intervening years, car culture has become so much more deeply entrenched that biking or walking to school on a regular basis has become increasingly rare -- and frightening.

Here's the ironic circular reasoning I hear from so many parents I speak to: there's too much traffic to let the kids bike; that's why we drive.

Hey, I drive too (mine's the car with the GigaGranadaHills bumpersticker), so I'm not trying to get all high and mighty. I drive when it's raining; I drive when we woke up too late to bike; I drive when I'm feeling lazy, or rushed, or disorganized. The fact is, I drive most of the time. It's just the path of least resistance. Yeah, I drive, but I also dream.

Check out this video: it's about CicLAvia. CicLAvia wants to increase the amount of space available for recreation such as biking or walking just a few hours a week, by doing 6-hour street closures on Sunday mornings.









Imagine if Granada Hills could participate in this plan. Say we closed San Jose street for a few hours on a Sunday morning, just once a month. That way, kids like the girl I carpool with could get comfortable with biking again, just like those of us who grew up in the 1970s and before used to do. Maybe then biking, walking, or rollerskating to get places wouldn't seem so strange and terrifying as it is now.

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