As I trotted home from our school walk this morning, I couldn't help but be grateful that all of these goals are happening. Tucker is now fully on board with the walk, with few complaints and only rarely needs a break. We discovered a shortcut through a shallow drainage ditch which saves a few minutes on the way to school, and also is kind of adventuresome. We always look for the same white cat in a certain window, and it is fun to greet two beautiful huskies that wait for us to walk past. I often point out different plants to the kids, and now we are in the habit of calling out in sing-song voices, "Don't touch the pampas grass!" whenever we walk past a particularly huge clump of it. Tucker is learning to identify lots of plants and seems to be enjoying noticing these small details.
I still fear crossing the county road that is directly in front of the school, due to the heavy traffic and the lack of pedestrian awareness. The principal, as well as the town police, have been super supportive of us crossing this road. They all know how important it is to me because we have had a few incidents come up that have given us opportunities to talk about it. I always thank whichever officer is stopping traffic for us each morning, and this morning in particular, I told him how much I appreciate him and the other officers, as I jogged across the road.
To make crossing that road safer, I started putting a safety vest on Tucker. I remind him daily how important it is to increase his visibility to the drivers and so he never balks at putting it on. It is an adult-sized vest, so he swims in it. But, it's accomplishing two goals... increasing his visibility and it sends the message that I am concerned that drivers don't see us. Does that make sense? I want drivers to know that we don't feel they are aware of pedestrians unless we make ourselves super flashy. I almost want to add a little safety flag to the routine... maybe Calvin can wave it to the drivers as we cross the road. :)
I definitely feel conspicuous. I can sense some hostility from some vehicles, though it seems that most drivers are becoming more aware and courteous, now that this routine has been in place for several months. I wish I could tell people that it is normal to walk your child to school and I am not a weirdo for wanting to do this. Clearly, the people who think I am crazy have never been to Vermont, where drivers practically wreck themselves in order to stop for a pedestrian.
Things that would change the safety and maybe the culture of the area to increase walkers... speed bumps, enforcement of the 25 mph speed limit in the school zone (there is no way people are driving 25), a painted crosswalk with signs and flashers. I don't know if it's reasonable for me to even suggest these things, after all, I am a single pedestrian. But, if other people felt that walking was going to be safer, maybe more people would do it.
So, what does this mean in the future? Maybe running for town council?