An Associated Press article in today's newspaper detailed the advantages of walking or biking to school. The healthy rewards that would come with this are obvious. The apprehension that parents have are also obvious. There are some places much better equipped to handle kids walking or biking to school. A network of sidewalks and bike paths certainly make the decision to walk or bike to school easier to make. Peachtree City, with its dedicated cart paths, has full bike racks at its elementary schools.
In Griffin there are NO bike lanes. There are sidewalks around most of the schools, sidewalks that connect to roads with no sidewalks. In the mornings and afternoons around every one of our elementary, middle schools and high schools there are lines of cars dropping off and picking up students. This despite the district offering bus service for all students.
The economics of $4 a gallon gas (and sure to go higher) will eventually lead to changes in our thinking about walking, biking, and mass transit. The cost of driving and idling in line to drop and pick our children up from school each day may increase ridership on our school buses this fall.
The AP article said some schools offer rewards to students who ride their bikes or walk to school. Nothing like some incentives to motivate students and parents in their decision making. Health benefits are great, but kids respond to incentives they can touch, feel and brag about. Simple things like t-shirts, money, food, homework passes.
So, where do we stand in Griffin-Spalding at the dawn of a new school year? The roads leading to every one our elementary, middle school and high schools have NO bikelanes. The sidewalks that surround our schools often lead to roads with no connecting sidewalks. Most of our schools are not equipped with bike racks, and for good reason - no one rides to school. As a parent, you will not want to send your child to walk to school or walk with your child to school on streets with no sidewalks. You would not want to ride with your child to school on streets with no bike paths.
So, that is where we stand now. Where are we going to be standing five years from now, 10 years from now? We have a very strong bicycling community in Griffin, a bicycling community that can make an impact and bring about some very positive changes in our city and county infrastructure with regards to biking and walking. It can happen. A vision for our community that is turned into reality: "Griffin, Georgia: America's best bike town."