Program encourages carpooling, walking or biking one day a week

Published in the April 2-16, 2014 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Ann Horner

Ann Horner

Ann Horner

It’s been many years since my daughter attended Paradise Valley School, but on a recent morning visit I had a personal “blast from the past” experience. This time I was at Paradise doing my work for the City of Morgan Hill’s Go Green Fridays Campaign, which is all about school commutes and how we might change our thinking and habits about getting our students to and from school.

I was reminded of what that commute was like. The roads leading to the school were jam-packed with cars, mini-vans and SUVs. Many had groups of kids being dropped off and many others, as my car had often been, had just one passenger in the vehicle. As the parents approach the cue that runs through the parking area in front of the school, they are directed to pull up one by one to the center crosswalk. Here, up-and-coming community volunteers are learning safety and responsibility as crosswalk guards and they are busy stopping, looking, listening and directing the flow. When it’s your turn and you’ve been signaled that it’s safe, someone opens the car door, and your kid or kids grab their backpacks, coats, sweaters, lunches, show & tell items, science projects and whatever else they might need for the day and they head through the crosswalk to the school.

The relieved parents have accomplished several morning tasks at this point, not the least of which is getting their child safely to school before they must immerse themselves in their days. By now many have a mile-long list running through their heads as they prioritize the tasks of the next few hours before many will return to do a similar routing when school is out.

Whatever the case, most people have a routine established and if they were to change this habit, it would require a good reason, a payoff and some kind of commitment, which begs the question of why our city, schools, or anyone would want to promote such an idea. The focus of Go Green Fridays is to improve our air quality and lower carbon emissions.

We are asking parents and students to walk, bike, or carpool on Fridays. Nine schools are participating in this program, but it is not exclusive and we ask everyone to consider greener commutes whenever possible.

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There are some structural aspects that cannot be changed. These include realities such as the location of your school and your home, the actual roads and routes to the school, the transportation options available to you, and parent job schedules. These are things which are not easily changed. But let’s look at the things we can change and what benefits we might create by just “going green” on Fridays. The quality of air would increase for sure, which matters a lot in ways we see and in ways we don’t. If you have asthma or allergies, you probably see this up close.

What about the social upsides of carpooling or walking with other kids and parents in the neighborhood? Conversations, friendships, exercise?

You’ve probably heard the riddle, “How do you eat an elephant?” And the answer is “one bite at a time.” How about going green one Friday at a time? That is a commitment you might consider making to improve our community’s health and environment.

Ann Horner invites you to share your thoughts on this topic. Please contact me at anhorner@verizon.net.

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Email: marty@morganhilllife.com
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek