Is a New Approach Needed for Getting Kids to School?

Charles Marohn derides the conflicted approach to creating "Safe Routes to Schools" in the United States. With new data linking transport to school to educational outcomes, is it time to rethink the federal government's popular program?
February 6, 2013, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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While he believes the goals of the Safe Routes to Schools program are laudable, Marohn decries an approach that invests millions in retrofitting schools and their surroundings to increase walkability and bikeability, but spends billions on constructing new schools in remote, auto-centric areas. "We spend tens of millions each year (a ridiculously small sum given the size of the task) in an attempt to retrofit schools to be walkable. Would it not be far more effective to simply locate new schools in areas that are already 'safe'?" asks Marohn. "Of course it would be, so why is nobody advocating for this?"

"According to the American Clearinghouse on Educational Facilities, there was $8.7 billion spent constructing new schools in 2010. That does not include renovations ($2.8 billion) or additions ($3.1 billion). That's an enormous number of new schools. The amount that will someday be spent retrofitting them to be 'safe' is paltry in comparison."

In light of a Danish study released late last year that found that "kids who cycled or walked to school...performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration," Marohn's harangue is worth considering.

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Published on Monday, February 4, 2013 in Strong Towns
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