As The New York Times reports about a young girl who is the only student who walks a block and a half to her school, many issues have come up in the debate. Is the world indeed less safe? How has design and suburban sprawl influenced where kids can walk to?
When to detach the parental leash? The trip to and from school has become emblematic of the conflict parents feel between teaching children autonomy and keeping them safe. In parenting blogs and books, the school-bus stop itself is shorthand for the turmoil of contemporary parents over when to relinquish control.
In 1969, 41 percent of children either walked or biked to school; by 2001, only 13 percent still did, according to data from the National Household Travel Survey. In many low-income neighborhoods, children have no choice but to walk. During the same period, children either being driven or driving themselves to school rose to 55 percent from 20 percent. Experts say the transition has not only contributed to the rise in pollution, traffic congestion and childhood obesity, but has also hampered children's ability to navigate the world.