In Fairfax County, Virginia, the kids are lazy, the traffic is terrible, and the taxes are high. If you're looking for someone to blame, look no farther than the area's overprotective parents and principals: Official obstacles (and unofficial reluctance) to letting kids walk or bike to school—or even wait for the bus on their own—is causing a SUV-load of expensive problems for this D.C. suburb.
According to the area blog Greater Greater Washington:
20 percent of morning traffic congestion in Fairfax County is related to parents driving kids to school.
According to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), nearly 60 percent of designated walkers and just over 30 percent of designated bus riders frequently use the kiss & ride method instead.
That means taxpayers are paying three times for each kid's commute: they're covering the cost of empty seats on buses, staffing for massive pick-up and drop-off operations, plus extra road congestion.
In the case of designated walkers, we're not talking about 10 miles uphill in the snow. For elementary kids, the outside edge of the walking range is one mile of safe terrain. It's a mile and a half for middle and high school students.
And even if parents encouraged their kids to walk or bike, they'd still hit obstacles:
At several schools, principals prohibit students from walking or biking to school, even though Fairfax County has endorsed these options.
Free Range Kids blogger Lenore Skenazy has done a great job documenting kids getting picked up by cops, parents getting visits from Child Protective Services, and other official interference with letting kids commute on their own.
Via the Washington City Paper.