Thanks to years of poor planning and an increasingly lazy (sorry, "busy") population, the U.S. federal government, through the Department of Transportation, is spending $612 million for a program called Safe Routes to School in about 20 states. This program sets out to "help build sidewalks, post traffic signs and find ways to make it easier for students to bike or walk to school."
While I like the result - parents and children biking to school together, kids tromping together in a little pack called a "walking bus" - it speaks volumes that we need to spend so much money to provide communities with sidewalks so it's safe for small children to walk to school. The AP's article on this program says that only 15 percent of kids "travel to school under their own power," so there's certainly a lot of improvement that's possible. While school buses make sense for kids who live far away from school, it's simply common sense to have kids in town get a little exercise at the start and end of each school day. Nobody tell Chris Goodall.
[Source: Daniel Yee, Associated Press]