I was talking yesterday about some of the advantages of raising kids in higher-density, walkable, bikable neighbourhoods, but I was talking in the abstract.  This story about cuts to school buses in Houton, TX shows how these issues affect real people.  The article leads with the story of a mom who “does not yet know how her children will get to school” in the fall, because the school buses they used to take have been cut.  Her kids are in middle-school and high-school, so they’re around 12 to 15 years old.  But even with kids that old,

Moore-Davis is is contemplating the bustling intersections and streets without sidewalks the girls would have to navigate if they walked to school, and wondering whether her own work schedule can be reconfigured for drop-offs and pickups.

It’s not crazy to think a 12 year old kid can’t walk to school — if she’d have to walk through too much car-centric, pedestrian unfriendly sprawl, crossing six-lane arteries, walking along the curbs of streets with no sidewalks.  So now this kid’s mom is trying to juggle her work schedule so she can be her kid’s chauffeur every morning and every afternoon.

Of course, you might think the solution here is not to cut the school buses.  But here’s the CFO of the school district: “We were trying to avoid hitting classrooms.”  I should hope so!  Any money a school district spends on buses is money its not spending on band, or field trips, or smaller classes for kids with learning disabilities.  And why would spending money on buses instead of the classroom ever be a good thing?

As I said yesterday, I don’t want to minimize the disadvantages of raising kids in higher-density neighbourhoods.  But I do want to point out that it has its advantages too, and we shouldn’t overlook them.

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