There is nothing more important than keeping our children safe — and this includes in getting them to and from school safely each day. Here are some very troubling things I’ve observed when visiting Irvine schools:
- I saw a little school girl almost run-over by a speeding car — the driver ignored the school crossing guard.
- I watched a parent park her car in the middle of the school block and then run across the busy street with her children.
- I witnessed many parents disobeying rules about using special traffic lanes and designated school drop-off areas.
In Irvine, as elsewhere, times have changed when it comes to school transportation. My grandchildren are students at the same Irvine elementary school that my daughter attended, so our family has seen the evolution of this challenge over the years.
Decades ago, most children walked to school. As parents, we accompanied them until they were ready to walk to school (and walk home) on their own. But as the number of families with two working parents increased, the number of vehicles also increased. Now, the vast majority of Irvine school children arrive at school (and get home) in private cars. This means that school traffic congestion and school traffic management have become complicated, costly matters fraught with danger.
So, how do we improve the situation?
First, bring back a comprehensive school bus system. This would take a lot of pressure off the morning “crush” at dozens of Irvine schools. This improvement has been suggested to City leaders many times before, and yet the Mayor, City Councilmembers, and School Board members have let another year go by without rebuilding Irvine’s comprehensive school bus system.
Second, school officials should do more to join with parents and students to find — and use — safe walking routes to schools. Walking to school — with parents, with neighborhood schoolmates, and even alone — was once regarded as a safe, healthful rite of passage for children. It’s time to rediscover the many benefits of walking to school every day.
Third, Irvine residents should take more responsibility for the safe transportation of children to and from school. For those who drive kids to school, this means planning ahead, avoiding being rushed, driving slowly and carefully at school sites, obeying all traffic rules and regulations, and paying special attention to Irvine’s outstanding crossing guards.
Have a good — and safe — school year!