The course is over and traffic in the city has changed. This is necessarily the case: according to reliable surveys, one-fifth of peak hour mobility is determined by moving from home to school and then from school to home. A lifestyle that affects tens of thousands of families with children between zero and thirteen. A lifestyle that can change, that needs to change. Let’s see how.
We all know the curtain: dozens of cars “out of school” waiting for or leaving their babies, horns, blocked buses, fights, pollution. Sometimes accidents that may involve the little ones. We take our children to study to guarantee them an education and make them citizens and in doing so we give them a dose of stress, aggression and violence that affects everything. What means? How can such a contradictory scenario change?
The tool is there and is called “school road”. It’s also been a state law for a couple of years now and Milan is starting to experience it somewhere. The school road is a road designed to be safe, to keep cars at bay, to make impossible or very very uncomfortable the bad practice of the wild stop to drop off and pick up children. School roads can be fixed, with a global redesign of the area, or temporary with closing times. The spirit of this approach is not only geared towards road safety (also very important), but also much more strategic: it is geared towards comprehensive mobility, with benefits also far removed from the modernized school complex.
We get into the mindset of an average parent who doesn’t question the issue of the impact of his or her choices too much. Let’s put ourselves in his shoes. As long as you can accompany your child to school by parking “just a moment” at the crosswalk, at a bend, at the roundabout, in a double row or on the sidewalk, then yes! He feels entitled to do so because “space is there,” because “it’s just a moment and I don’t bother anyone.” This has always been the case, but almost everyone else does, where is the problem? Those who make a mistake every day perceive their mistake not as a mistake but as an inescapable habit. This choice not only has consequences for the state of the roads surrounding the school – which are polluted, ugly, dangerous – but also has consequences for mobility in general. Since that parent, once he leaves in the morning with his private car, will be a citizen for the rest of the day that he will have to take a car, it will therefore be the means by which he will go to the office, do errands, will have to to find parking, you will have to suffer traffic jams and help generate them. And in the afternoon to pick up the baby? We will be back with the same car, after all I have it now … Only for a very, very minority of these people, the car is really indispensable (and this part would have benefits because it would no longer be to share the road with those for which the car is not essential), others could be arranged differently, but this will only happen when there is the right incentive to do so.
3 options to combat illegal parking outside schools
The mere availability of unauthorized parking near the school therefore has consequences downstream. It triggers wrong and harmful behaviors. To change this phenomenon, basically three options. The first is to find a way to ban children from driving to school. An order that would be fair, but that is certainly hard, rigid, difficult to enforce and enforce. The second is to encourage those who use more sustainable means, rewarding those who come to school on foot, by bicycle or by public transport: management is also very difficult here. The third option represents the right balance and is that of school roads: eliminate the possibility of approaching the school by car. Dear father, you can also go out with your “comfortable” car, but when you get close to school the “convenience” of parking illegally to leave your child “just a minute” will no longer be available. You will have to go in a circle, you will have to accept the risk of leaving the car in the ban on some islands, no longer in sight, you will have to make the last stretch on foot.
Meanwhile, the area in front of the school will become a new square for the neighborhood, it will become a place of relaxation, a meeting place before and after school and no longer of nervousness and anxiety, it will become a redeveloped area accessible to pedestrians. and only bicycles. And friendly for the kids who will finally play where they only perceived anxiety and danger – a new public space! Warning: these are not utopias for environmental monsters, this is what is being done around the world that has evolved over decades and, as we said, is also beginning to be experienced in Milan.
Not just road safety, but a change of habits
Therefore, school routes are neither a ban nor an incentive. They are a disincentive. A disincentive to take the car. Making the car not a comfortable thing to abuse defying common sense, but making the car a complicated tool to use, cumbersome, awkward and boring. Therefore, it can be replaced by something more appropriate.
With school roads, then, not only safer schools, zero accidents, less pollution and quieter children who are no longer subjected to the typical aggression of the morning traffic ecosystem, but families forced to change their habits. Let’s go back to the role of the average father. After the first, second, third day of inconvenience, ask a few questions. Do we want to try to take public transportation? Do we want to try to ride a bike and put the child in the seat? Want to see that walking takes time and fighting obesity, which is one of the most terrible problems for children in Italy today? What if the school is far away and inaccessible? Simple: Don’t choose far-flung, unreachable schools, but choose affordable options that don’t bother your kids and the city. Choosing the school where to enroll your children is an act that requires responsibility, you can not make the choice regardless of the consequences it generates.
Obviously it is not a choice that can be made throughout Italy, or in rural areas, or in small towns where perhaps ten villages are run by a single school, but in a large organized city like Milan, yes. In a big city like Milan, anyone has a good nursery, primary or secondary school within walking distance, cycling or just a few minutes by public transport. Therefore, not being able to ban children from driving to school, school routes (fixed or temporary) are the healthiest option that I hope to multiply in the coming months in the face of a new school year that marks a radical change. for everyone. teaches respect, responsibility and sustainability. If the City Council does not proceed, do it yourself from below. Talk to your children’s school, write to your local president, ally with other parents. In this area, many of the changes have taken place in this way.
Respect, responsibility and sustainability we said. If we do not learn these concepts in everyday school behavior, what will we do?