The wheels of justice?
After yesterday’s post celebrating the start of Walk to School week, I realised it sounded as if I was blaming parents for fuelling this ‘let’s all get in the car to go to school’ craze. I wasn’t. I really don’t think it’s as simple as arguing that parents are just too idle or too rushed off their feet to walk to school.
Most parents I know who do drive their children to school would love them to walk, but in their circumstances it just isn’t possible. For two years, when we first moved to our current house, our two elder girls continued to attend their old school, which was now three miles away. The only reliable way to get them there on time and us into town for work, day after day, was by car – and a right pain in the neck it was too. It added hours to the day, and meant that we either had to drive the car straight home again or find somewhere to park it all day. If we could have done it another way we would have, but it was too far to walk, there were no direct buses or trains, so for two years, until the girls moved to a school round the corner, we sat and fumed.
I’m sure thousands of parents are trapped in similar situations, either having to use the car to get to work themselves after the drop off or not living close enough to walk. The only way to ensure more children walk to school is to make it easier, for them and for parents to get about on foot, bus or bike.
So, it was ironic, that yesterday, just as Walk to School week began, I realised just how skewed our priorities can be. I was walking Doughnut home through the park having dropped Katy off when I came across one of her friends pushing her bike down the hill on the way to school. Flat tyre? Broken chain? Nope. She’d been ticked off by a copper for riding her bike through a ‘no cycling’ section of the park. Seriously? Oh yes, confirmed her dad, who turned up seconds later, also pushing his bike. “We got off with a warning – some people have been fined £300,” he said.
A couple of minutes later I bumped into the world-weary coppers who had been dispatched to nab passing cyclists. They were hiding, not very convincingly, in a gap in the hedge. “Are you lying in wait for rogue cyclists?” I asked.
“I told them we should have worn camouflage for this job,” replied one of them, going on to explain they’d had complaints that so many cyclists were using the park as a means of getting from A to B that it was becoming ‘a rat run’.”
The logic, according to the ever-patient policeman, was that some people felt the park should be a place of peace and tranquillity, not a thoroughfare. Cycling through the park, according to those with enough time on their hands to complain, was a “leisure activity” not a happy, healthy way of getting about, and should be confined to special areas.
Oh for goodness sake! It seems as if you can’t do right for doing wrong whichever way you look at it. What bonkers logic to encourage parents to not drive their children to school and then fine them £300 for getting on their by push bike!
I think it’s time we all got off the hamster wheel, into the park and took some time to smell the roses…
If you’ve ever been frustrated by bonkers logic wielded by the powers that be, please share below as I’m sure I can’t be the only one shaking my head in disbelief!
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn