Monday, 16 February, 2009

Let the kids walk a bit

You are rushing to office on a bike. The road is blocked with haphazardly parked cars. Isn’t it normal that your blood pressure rise and you curse those stupid car owners/drivers? Well, I used to face this every weekday when I was in Chennai.

Unny used to drop me at office before proceeding to his office. There is a school along the road we took regularly. (The other option was an even more crowded main road with many signals.) Parents or drivers stopped the cars at the school gate and took the kids to the classrooms, creating major traffic blocks. Not to mention the incessant honking! Everyone competed in getting as close to the gate as possible. If they could get the car to the classroom, I guess, they would’ve been extremely happy. I used to get furious at this insensitivity to other road users. Why couldn’t they park the cars where it caused less inconvenience to others and get the kids walk a short distance to the school? Need the kids be pampered so much?

However, I also thought that I was just being jealous. My typical middle-class character couldn’t digest the comforts enjoyed by others. We have only a bike. I was getting irritated because they had cars. So, other than sharing with Unny, I kept my complaints to myself. Unny said that one could not expect those people to behave the way one wanted. Ok, fine, I said. I’d try to finish the chores and get out of the house early, even if it meant getting up earlier than 5 am.

Later, I remember reading about some other schools in Chennai banning the dropping of kids at the school entrance, citing the same reason – traffic congestion. I was happy to know that I was not alone in finding this as a problem.

Today, there was further justification to my anger. Though, in Mumbai, I was not caught in any such traffic jams, I was really happy to read the news “The State Transport Ministry mulls ban on cars for students”. According to a report by DNA, the ministry aims to keep school areas free of vehicular congestion and also spread the message of equality among students.

The proposal is at a primary stage, and there’ll be a lot of hurdles to clear before it can be enacted as a law. Still, it’s a welcome move.
It is inspired by the Cathedral and John Connon School in Colaba, Mumbai, which promotes the use of school bus or public transport by its students. Meera Issac, principal of the school, and Indrani Malkani, one of the parents, launched this well-thought-out ‘Model School Bus Service’ in 2002. According to them, parents welcomed this move and that was why the plan worked for the past six years. Even taxis are not allowed near the school gate. A wise move indeed!

Now, we have a car. But I am glad to realise that I retain the old mindset. I never try to park the car close to my destination, even for a short duration, if that causes nuisance to others. I may use the car for convenience, but I can still walk.

I hope those kids also get to walk a bit.


The one who has loved and lost 17 February 2009 at 12:22 am  

As they say, all these insensitive car owners should "take a walk"!

mixedblessings89 17 February 2009 at 12:34 am  

Hahahahaha :D :D

My parents would LOVE this. Seriously.

There's a school very close to our place, and we have to cross to reach most places, specially every morning when my Dad is driving us- me to the metro station and himself to office- and he comes one step closer to a health problem almost every morning because of the way people use and abuse the road and their vehicles there. Or in the afternoon when the kids are leaving. It's a nightmare, seriously.

Anonymous 17 February 2009 at 9:21 am  

Guess its doing more harm to the kids than the commuters. The kids are better of walking a small distance (atleast) to get the required exercise and exposure.

mathew 17 February 2009 at 2:09 pm this fast moving life...i wonder whether the kids of today would have the chance to run around in parambu or cycle to school..maybe the last remanant of that might be possible in our villages..

Bindhu Unny 17 February 2009 at 3:32 pm  

Deepu: Some are even insensitive to their own needs and they forget to walk. :-)

Mixed blessings: Hope there also a similar law is enforced. :-)

Sandeep: Maybe so. But the kids do not realise that they are missing the walk, like so many other things missed by today's kids. :-)

Mathew: Most city kids do not get a chance to run around or cycle. On the other hand, there're are village kids, who can't afford a few rupees of bus fare, walk many kilometres to school and back everyday. A Mumbai-based businessman has started a project for donating bicycles to such kids.

ജെ പി വെട്ടിയാട്ടില്‍ 20 February 2009 at 10:53 pm  

best compliments

jp thrissivaperoor

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