On walking to school

Fort Wayne walk to school
(.3 miles - K to 5th grade)

Delhi walk to school (.6 miles - 5th through 8th grade)

Whatever Happened to Walking to School?


If you think the first week of September means kids skipping off to school, you might want to check your calendar—for the century. The way you got to school isn't the way they do.

Take the bus. Sure, about 40% of kids still ride the cheery yellow chugger, but in many towns it doesn't stop only at the bus stops anymore. It stops at each child's house.

Often, the kids aren't waiting outside to get on. They are waiting in their parents' cars—cars the parents drove from the garage to the sidewalk so their children would be climate-controlled and safe from the predators so prevalent on suburban driveways.

Those of us who remember using our own legs for transit now run the risk of sounding Abe Lincolnesque. Today, only about one in 10 kids walks to school, says Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

The shift is so profound that the language itself has changed. "Arrival" and "dismissal" have become "drop-off" and "pick-up" because an adult is almost always involved—even when it doesn't make sense.

"When we first moved to town we found a house three blocks from the school," says Annie Anderson, a mom in Corpus Christi, Texas. "The day before school started a lady knocked on my door and asked if I'd like to join the carpool."

"Carpool to where?" Ms. Anderson asked. "She proceeded to explain that not only would I pick up her kid and others every morning of my assigned week, but I would need to pick up their 'carpool seats' before Monday and pass them to the next parent on Friday." Ms. Anderson declined and allowed her second-grader to walk instead. He beat the car every day.

Comment: The Fort Wayne walk would have been from about 1954 - 1960 (The E Rudisell crossing was a major 4 lane city street (there was a crossing guard there!)). The Delhi walk 1960-1963.


  1. I road the bus to H/S but frequently walked home (like after football practice). This walk was 5 miles but I often hitch-hiked at least part of the way

  2. For Elementary School, I walked or rode my bike .5 mile. For HS, I walked .2 miles to bus stop (our buses did not stop at peoples home, unless you rode the short bus) I also usually walked a few days home from HS, which was 1.9 miles.

    My Mom would rarely drive us to or from either Elementary or HS.

  3. My kids walk to school.....about 50 feet downstairs from breakfast! :^)

  4. I have something really really annoying in my neighborhood. A parent drives his kid to the bus stop (the absolute farthest this can be is 500'). The kid waits in the car for the bus to arrive. This morning it was raining so I get that! I also get it when it is let's say (20 degree or less). But this is all the time! AND the driver parks the car right by the stop sign (not 10' back or 30' back ... but pulled up as far as the car can get without being in the intersection.

  5. We walked, rain or shine. Of course it only got to about 30 degrees in the morning, but then again, close to summer it would be 110 walking home.


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