Promoted from the diaries — Juan
I’m sure you remember the penny protest by Hunterdon County middle school students back in March and the national attention it received.
Now students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School are using some well-timed civil disobedience over their Principal’s refusal to allow the installation of a free bicycle rack on school property:
Yesterday, more than 50 students rode their bikes to school, commuting in pairs and groups. After studying up on state biking laws — and carrying copies with them — the students legally tethered their bikes in conspicuous clusters around lamp posts, trees and other poles dotting the circular drive in front of the school.
The Principal’s objection seems to be over concern for student safety on the roads leading to the school’s massive campus, and that is a very legitimate issue.
Those who are alarmed by childhood obesity have cited Postwar neighborhood design as a major obstacle in encouraging kids to walk or bike to school. BRHS is probably the poster child for sprawl gone wrong in the Garden State, as the school is surrounded by acres of fields and framed by busy roads that link sidewalk-free suburban housing developments. Walking or biking to BRHS can truly be hazardous to your health!
However, what the school should do is use this dispute as an opportunity to work cooperatively with the Township and citizens by developing pedestrian and bike-friendly ways of getting kids to school. Rather than asking property taxpayers to provide expensive “courtesy” busing to students who live close to the school, the Board of Education and Township can tap some of New Jersey’s “Smart Growth” grants to develop paths and “safe walking” programs that use parents to take turns walking their entire neighborhood’s children to school.
Click here to see how Maryland is helping citizens take back their streets and have a real voice in how people can get around town.
Let’s hope that New Jersey’s newest school protest can draw nationwide attention to how lousy planning can lead to unhealthy neighborhoods and unhealthy kids.