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I’ve blogged before about the benefits and joys of bike commuting, about how it saves you money and gets you fit into the bargain, and how you arrive at work energised and ready to face the day (!), but let’s face it, that was a bit of a hard sell….
I didn’t really mention the downsides, one of which is attempting to navigate the daily ‘are-they-aren’t-they-going-to-stop/turn’ cars that I encounter outside the 2 local high schools on my route. Apart from making me froth at the mouth when I’m nearly taken out by the opening passenger door of a car whose driver seems to think it’s just fine & dandy to stop short in the middle of a main road to disgorge its occupants, without so much as a glance in the mirror, it’s really made me think about how those parents are really not doing their kids any favours.
Back when I was at school, you’d have been the laughing stock of the class if your mum had dropped you off at school, and I didn’t go to a local school, it was a 15 minute walk to the bus stop and then a 10 mile bus ride. These are local high schools in an affluent area of South Manchester, and these teenagers can’t live more than 2 miles away. In fact there’s a noticeable increase in the number of cars clogging up the roads, engaging in dodgy, borderline illegal parking practices and pulling up outside the school gates when it’s raining (yes, I even cycle to work in the rain!) It’s hilarious, you can practically imagine the conversations taking place across the breakfast tables in their bay-fronted Victorian villas ‘oh please give me a lift to school Mum, it’s raining…’
The thing is that a lot of these kids are the professionals of tomorrow, molly-coddled to within an inch of their over-privileged lives and without an independent bone in their bodies. Is it any wonder that a client of mine said to me the other week ‘you know Juliet, a lot of these junior lawyers are just a bit lazy, they seem to want it handed to them on a plate and can’t seem to think for themselves’ ?
Here’s an idea – make it a school rule that unless there’s a genuine reason why a student can’t make their own way to school (broken leg?!), all secondary school students have to get to school under their own steam. Their bag might be a bit heavy some days, and some days, if they forget their brolly they might get wet, but they might also build some resilience and some sense of responsibility for themselves, which will help them in their work life. And I’ll get a more pleasant journey into work into the bargain!