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Old 11-13-2009, 10:33 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 23,375,841 times
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There's a thread in the Parenting forum about whether or not one should buy their teen a car, and during the course of the discussion I threw out the idea that we as a society should be looking at ways to move away from the need for every adult and every teen of driving age needs to have a car of their own just to survive, and wondered if there were any movements out there at the high school level to address the enviromental implications of so many teens driving around solo. Well, that point didn't really get off the ground there, so I'm bringing it here to get some more targeted feedback.

First, let me give the following disclaimer: I know that some kids are going to need to drive. I know that not all schools and all districts have public transit, safe streets for biking, or are located in communities where students are tightly clustered. I know that carpools, for example, aren't feasible for all students due to graduated license requirements and regulations about driving solo. I know kids sometimes carry bulky equipment or have odd schedules. I know all of that. I'm not looking for reasons not to try to change; I'm looking for any success stories or proof that some change, even small changes, are possible.

That said, this is a topic I'd like to research in more depth. Reducing time spent in the car is one of the biggest things that a student can do to help the environment. Are there organizations out there tackling the question of school transportation from an enviromental standpoint (or social justice or economic viewpoint, too, for that matter)? What schools or districts are currently addressing this need? While I'm interested in urban schools, where I think the greatest opportunity (and need for change) lies in the suburbs. These are the places where public transportation is often limited and where driving is often a way of life. At the same time, it seems like most schools (and students, parents, and community members) could still offer some incentives and ways to offer alternatives: encouraging carpooling (I see one school in California offers prime guaranteed parking spots to student carpools, for example), providing bike racks, after school buses, etc., not to mention larger fixes like looking at safety of surrounding streets (for biking or walking), placement of any existing bus routes, etc.

It's not just the environmental impact of the kids and their driving itself, it's also that changing personal habits, or at least getting kids to question their decisions, is easier at an earlier age. Teens are new drivers, and are (or at least they were when I was a teen) idealistic and open to the idea of personal action to address larger problems. Getting them involved in thinking through all of the potential issues and asking them to help identify room for improvements is not just an investment in the particular school's ecological footprint, it's an investment in a generation that is going to have to tackle some difficult environmental issues that are inevitably going to require some personal sacrifice. When I was in school we worried about recycling and saving the rainforest; today's teens are going to need to think about that, but have other major issues to consider, too, our national dependence on the automobile being an important one.

I'm curious to hear what others think, and to learn what sorts of action on this topic are already being taken out there.
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Old 11-14-2009, 12:35 AM
 
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Make them buy their own car as they should, problem solved.

I don't remember too many kids in HS that had their own car. Those that did drive either had a loaner for the day if Mom and Dad didn't need it or had worked to buy one for themselves.
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:59 AM
 
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Making them buy their own cars doesn't solve the environmental equation, though. If everyone is driving around in their own personal car (whether they own it or it's a family car) that's a lot of potentially unnecessary cars on the road.
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Old 11-14-2009, 10:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
Making them buy their own cars doesn't solve the environmental equation, though.
Certainly put a dent in it because very few of them will be able to afford it.

I don't understand this notion that a teen should be given a car in the first place. Certainly there is some special circumstances you have already mentioned where they may need one.
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Old 11-14-2009, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Albuquerque, NM
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Car sharing
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Old 11-14-2009, 01:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecoalman View Post
Certainly put a dent in it because very few of them will be able to afford it.

I don't understand this notion that a teen should be given a car in the first place. Certainly there is some special circumstances you have already mentioned where they may need one.
I don't understand it, either, but when I suggested as much on the parenting forum you would have thought that I'd grown two heads. People then jumped all over me for suggesting that schools could look at their policies to see what changes could be made to encourage alternatives to solo driving.

Maybe there are two issues here. Convincing the kids themselve to take an active role in the shaping of their community and in their own lifestyles, and then addressing the concerns of the parents separately. Over on the parenting forum the answers seem to be (a) most schools are already doing fine and kids carpool all the time anyway and there isn't any need for change because everything is great as is, (b) I'll think differently when I have a kid in high school who will presumably have to be driven around everywhere, and (c) kids have complicated schedules, schools have no money, and nothing is going to change.

I tend to be more of the school of thought that most of us could make positive changes in our lifestyle, even if we're already doing some (or even most) things "right," we can't all be perfect all the time, but it doesnt' hurt and can certainly help to look at both the small and the big things and figure out how to attempt positive changes when possible.
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Old 11-14-2009, 01:36 PM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,421,368 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
There's a thread in the Parenting forum about whether or not one should buy their teen a car, and during the course of the discussion I threw out the idea that we as a society should be looking at ways to move away from the need for every adult and every teen of driving age needs to have a car of their own just to survive, and wondered if there were any movements out there at the high school level to address the enviromental implications of so many teens driving around solo. Well, that point didn't really get off the ground there, so I'm bringing it here to get some more targeted feedback.

First, let me give the following disclaimer: I know that some kids are going to need to drive. I know that not all schools and all districts have public transit, safe streets for biking, or are located in communities where students are tightly clustered. I know that carpools, for example, aren't feasible for all students due to graduated license requirements and regulations about driving solo. I know kids sometimes carry bulky equipment or have odd schedules. I know all of that. I'm not looking for reasons not to try to change; I'm looking for any success stories or proof that some change, even small changes, are possible.









That said, this is a topic I'd like to research in more depth. Reducing time spent in the car is one of the biggest things that a student can do to help the environment. Are there organizations out there tackling the question of school transportation from an enviromental standpoint (or social justice or economic viewpoint, too, for that matter)? What schools or districts are currently addressing this need? While I'm interested in urban schools, where I think the greatest opportunity (and need for change) lies in the suburbs. These are the places where public transportation is often limited and where driving is often a way of life. At the same time, it seems like most schools (and students, parents, and community members) could still offer some incentives and ways to offer alternatives: encouraging carpooling (I see one school in California offers prime guaranteed parking spots to student carpools, for example), providing bike racks, after school buses, etc., not to mention larger fixes like looking at safety of surrounding streets (for biking or walking), placement of any existing bus routes, etc.

It's not just the environmental impact of the kids and their driving itself, it's also that changing personal habits, or at least getting kids to question their decisions, is easier at an earlier age. Teens are new drivers, and are (or at least they were when I was a teen) idealistic and open to the idea of personal action to address larger problems. Getting them involved in thinking through all of the potential issues and asking them to help identify room for improvements is not just an investment in the particular school's ecological footprint, it's an investment in a generation that is going to have to tackle some difficult environmental issues that are inevitably going to require some personal sacrifice. When I was in school we worried about recycling and saving the rainforest; today's teens are going to need to think about that, but have other major issues to consider, too, our national dependence on the automobile being an important one.

I'm curious to hear what others think, and to learn what sorts of action on this topic are already being taken out there.

--" so many teens driving around solo"--

Don't blame the teens .
They learned that from their parents.

When the oil embargo hit in the 70's, carpooling to work was very popular.

The last place I worked ----25 years later--( 12 hour night shifts) there would be 3 of us driving to and from work.

Each alone in the car.
Same workplace,same hours, same building.

( many times the 3 of us would be in a row driving )

I lived 29 miles out, another guy 20 miles, and one 15 miles.

I spoke to the other 2 about car pooling and their response was---" why"?

Since I was getting 35 mpg and they were driving big SUV's, I dropped the subject.


As I stated--------teens learn from the parents.
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Old 11-15-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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Fact: Cars aren't going anywhere. Even if we get away from fossil fuels, there are forces at work to bring hydrogen cells, natural gas, methane, etc. as alternatives. No matter what the car-hating, anti-freedom crowd self-righteously crows about, you will not make a dent in the automobile culture.

Kids from an early age are socialized into the car mentality. Are you gonna ban Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars? Are you gonna ban Hot Wheels? How about racing? Are you gonna ban songs about cars and girls? Name me a song that wistfully waxes rhapsodic about a boy and his light rail train.

Cars represent freedom and that's what America is about--freedom and personal choice. You ask ANY kid what he prefers--driving a car to school or riding the bus--guess what he chooses? You ask him if he'd like his parents to take him somewhere or drive himself. Guess the answer again.

Fact is, mass transit is inefficient because it doesn't go where people want to go when they need to go there. This is why the car culture will never die.
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Old 11-15-2009, 09:24 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 23,375,841 times
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It's not just about cars, though. It's about moving away from a society that requires every person over the age of 16 to have a personal vehicle to function in daily life. I never suggested that cars should be banned, simply that it might be useful for all schools and communities to look at the ways in which kids are getting to school, and figure out ways to decrease numbers of trips made by solo drivers in cars. In some cases that's going to mean buses, in other cases carpooling (which could be enhanced through incentive programs), in some cases it's going to be walking or biking (maybe the school needs more bike racks, or needs safer streets or sidewalks near the school.)

I know that many kids do equate cars with freedom. That's another one of the reasons I was wondering what was already going on out there to address this need. Many workplaces are looking at ways to encourage alternatives to driving, or at least decrease numbers of drivers; why not schools? Kids, or at least me when I was a teen, and many of the teens I know or have known, want to make a difference in the world. Working to shift larger assumptions that a car is necessary, or that auto-centric development is and should be considered ideal and without problems, could potentially gain tremendously by engaging teens when they're at the start of their driving lives, as well as when they're forming their own views about the world. That doesn't mean they all have to give up driving or move somewhere with public transportation, but if they start to think about their own habits and perhaps decide that carpooling with friends, for example, might mean a little less freedom and a bit more coordination of schedules (or biking, walking, or taking the bus) is in itself an assertion of freedom -- freedom from the tyranny of the expectation that everyone needs a car at all times, as well as the freedom to make a personal choice that has a positive impact on the environment (and can save money, for that matter). Maybe if more teens (and adults, for that matter), stop and think through the pros and cons of driving they will begin to prefer alternatives to the car, at least some of the time.

I was framing this from an environmental standpoint since this is the green living forum, but I think there are community livabilty, economic, and social justice issues to this, too, although I'm sure that brands me as a "car-hating, anti-freedom" person, while I tend to think it actually makes me pro-freedom: freedom to have increased options for transportation besides just cars.
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Old 11-16-2009, 05:48 PM
 
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For anyone else who comes across this thread and is interested, I found this recent article about the efforts at Issaquah High School to start a carpooling program, possibly the only of its kind in Washington:

Issaquah High School students blaze the trail with carpooling program - Issaquah Reporter
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