Intentional Maiming

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.

This entry was posted in Any by John Mansfield. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Mansfield

Mansfield in the desertA third-generation southern Nevadan, I have lived in exile most of my life in such places as Los Alamos, Baltimore, Los Angeles, the western suburbs of Detroit, and currently the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. I work as a fluid dynamics engineer. I was baptized at age twelve in the font of the Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake Center, and on my nineteenth birthday I received the endowment in the St. George Temple. I served as a missionary mostly in the Patagonia of Argentina from 1985 to 1987. My true calling in the Church seems to be working with Cub Scouts, whom I have served in different capacities in four states most years since 1992. (My oldest boy turned eight in 2004.) I also currently teach Sunday School to the thirteen-year-olds. I hold degrees from two universities named for men who died in the 1870s, the Brigham Young University and the Johns Hopkins University. My wife is Elizabeth Pack Mansfield, who comes from New Mexico's north central mountains and studied molecular biology at the same two schools I attended. We have four sons, whose care and admonition, along with care of my aged father, require much of Elizabeth's time. She currently serves the Church as Mia-Maid advisor, ward music chairman, and choir director, and plays violin whenever she can. One day, I would like to make shoes.

3 thoughts on “Intentional Maiming

  1. When I was in high school I walked on safe sidewalks two miles each way to school (no, it wasn’t uphill both ways, it was nice and flat, but it was two miles). Everybody from my neighborhood did the same — there were no school buses, and parents were too busy and the walking was good for us. Now, my kids need a ride a half-mile to school or else everybody freaks out about them walking through unsafe neighborhoods. Times have definitely changed.

    As for intentional maiming, most municipalities (outside of Florida, of course) seem to be doing a pretty good job at creating more bike paths and wider shoulders. But interestingly kids don’t use the bike paths — adults do now. Kids are the masters, ferried around like princes, and adults are the slaves, huffing and puffing as they do their childrens’ bidding.

  2. I got in serious (yelling, which never happened, happened that day) trouble in fifth grade, when I walked to school (about two miles away) instead of taking the bus. The bus driver terrified me, and I didn’t want to tell anyone, so for half a year I was walking and no one knew. Then some weirdo followed me on my way home, police were called, and the gig was up. Walking was nice, though once I was forced to be on the bus I did have to concede that it was *warmer*.

    Except for the year (seventh grade) when my stepdad rented a retail space for his consulting business and my mom decided to move our homeschooling operation there, that’s the only time I ever walked to school from home.

    Note, though, that in fifth grade I lived in Southern California and in seventh grade I was in suburban Michigan — here in semi-rural Ohio it seems like most kids who live within a reasonable distance, do walk or take a bicycle. Though of course, every junior and senior in high school insists on driving.

  3. I moved at the start of sixth grade, and the school was brand new. It was 1 1/2 miles to school–the last mile was straight uphill–about a 300 foot climb. And we walked every day.

    There were sidewalks on some of the streets near the school, but none in the new subdivision that we lived in. Apparently the developer figured that walking was becoming obsolete.

    And, we can’t have kids walking or riding bikes. If they did, our schoolchildren would probably give up first place in the only category where they now lead schoolchildren around the world: obesity!

Comments are closed.