I loved to ride my bike when I was a kid. It gave such a feeling of freedom. When I was in junior high, I occassionally preferred to bike the 2-1/2 miles to school, and there were trips farther afield without much of any destination.
One Saturday, I took off on my single-speed, banana-seat bike on the highway toward Lake Mead. After I made it to the pass between Sunrise Mountain and Frenchman Mountain, 600 feet above and four miles beyond my house, I kept going. By the time I reached the North Shore Road, another eight miles past and 1000 feet lower than the mountain pass, turning around and going back the way I’d come seemed too difficult. So, I continued on with the thought of finding a phone and calling for a ride home. I wasn’t the only member of the family out having some solitary fun on a Saturday, however; Dad had gone fishing, and stopped to pick me up after he passed me on the road.
This minor adventure of the sort common to youth not so long ago came to mind yesterday as I looked at the zoning map for my son’s middle school. I was surprised, but shouldn’t have been, to see that the houses on the same street as the school are zoned for a different school four miles away as the crow flies. Instead of walking half a mile or less, the students living there are bused. I began wondering how such a mistake could have happenned and if I could work with the PTA to correct it, but I also began to suspect that most of the parents of the affected students prefer the busing. Maybe the current arrangement is more convenient to their notions of what is desirable. Road shoulders are pretty inadequate in this area; when I walk one of our major roads, I frequently have no option but to walk in the road. It has been suggested to me that the reason this road has no sidewalk, is that if it did, then high school students within two miles of their school would have to provide their own way to school. Since travel by foot or bike is not sufficiently safe, the school district provides buses. Thus, many prefer pedestrian and cycling options hobbled. When I was in high school, I rode the bus home the first day, and that was the last time I did. Moving myself under my own power was more pleasurable for one who hadn’t had knowledge of that pleasure denied him.