Uphill In The Snow, Or, You’re Killing Your Kids By Giving Them Rides

Due to my recent commuting schedule and location, I’ve had the chance to observe what I think of as “school rush hour” in northern Utah County, where dozens upon dozens of parents clog the streets bringing their kids to school.

And as it turns out, those parents are likely doing their children a major disservice.

The Davis Enterprise reported last month that kids who get rides to school have decreased learning ability while those who walk or bike can concentrate better.

The study investigated the connections between diet, exercise and the ability to concentrate for school students of all ages. Among its many results, one really stood out: Children have less concentration if they do not exercise on the way to school.

The children were asked to answer questions about their exercise behavior and complete a simple concentration test (one such exercise involved putting together a puzzle composed of face pieces) and they were scored for correctness.

Children who made the trip to school by themselves performed far better than those who were transported to school by car or public transportation (bus or train).

These findings seem initiative, even obvious, yet everyday I see school parking lots clogged with people driving their kids to school. And of course that kind of behavior also exacerbates things like the inversion, creating other long-term health problems.

Kids who bike or walk to school actually do better academically.

People deploy many excuses for driving kids to school. But even if kids have to walk the proverbial “uphill both ways in the snow” it isn’t actually that hard to go on foot. (Housing that makes walking impossible is a whole other, and bigger, problem.) And ultimately, most people in Provo and Utah County live within walking distance of an elementary school. For those people, it’s worth keeping in mind that kids are literally handicapped by giving them that ride in the morning.



Filed under biking

2 responses to “Uphill In The Snow, Or, You’re Killing Your Kids By Giving Them Rides

  1. As one who rode his bike to school until it become socially unacceptable at the age of 14-15 (not that taking the bus was a better alternative), this age seems to have gotten younger. I watch my neighbor across the street drive her sons to school in her Hummer H3 (completely unnecessary for the area) it makes me cringe. The school is less than 8 minutes away by foot as I make a loop around our streets walking the dog in about 17 flat.

    It’s why kids are fatter, why adults are fatter, why there are play60 initiatives, why more kids have learning “disorders,” why it costs more to do simple remedial tasks. It’s sad. And the “unsafe” streets are due to more cars on them, less buildings near them, and even less people walking/riding to police them with their presence.

    Seems just too damn obvious.

  2. In 1969, 87% of all schoolchildren who lived within a mile of school walked or biked to school. Now only about 33% do so now. This September the Provo Bicycle Committee, along with Provo School District, will be holding the third annual Bike to School Week, hopefully at every school this year. Please join us to help reverse these trends, make our kids, community, and air more healthy, and every week a week to walk and bike to school.

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