Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I remember walking or biking to school almost every day between 3rd and 8th grades. The few exceptions involved rainy or snow-filled days but, even in those instances, my elementary and middle schools were both within close walking distance.
These days, the experience of walking or biking to school is going the way of the betamax player in many communities--replaced with that newly ubiquitous vehicular trail of tears known as the carpool line.
One of the main drivers (pun, semi-intended) of this change is a set of school site and building regulations that make building neighborhood-based schools very difficult and, in some cases, downright impossible.
Awhile back, I wrote a law review article for McGeorge on the topic. It sets out some of the issues begetting this problem.
Recently, I became aware of new resource that a friend and neighbor of mine created: the Smart Growth Schools Report Card.
This cleverly titled document is not limited to only legal issues that make car-centric schools a concrete reality as it includes an analysis of design and political factors, too. However, it does address legal and regulatory "mandates" in a concise and creative way.
Take a look. And, when you're done, consider whether a land use regulatory scheme that makes walking to school an unlikely reality is a good idea.