The United States has seen a drastic decline in the percentage of children walking to school over the last five decades: from 50 percent in 1969 to 13 percent today. But in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood (pop. 51,000), nearly all of the school district's 5,800 students gets to school by walking, biking, or getting a ride. The school system doesn't have any school buses. "It never has," writes Angie Schmitt.
"Over the years, as the school district has modernized and reduced the number of schools, Lakewood has consciously continued to make walking to school a high priority," she explains. "When Lakewood reduced the number of schools, it made sure they — especially the elementary schools — were spaced out to be close to as many students as possible. Rather than trading the older, walkable buildings for a more sprawling style, many of the historic school buildings underwent historic preservation treatments. That means no giant parking lots either."