You won’t often find me sticking up for a particular policy of a particular political party.
And when it comes to local councils, I’d prefer political parties not be involved at all, given a council’s responsibility is purely to the local community. We also know the dangers of council caucusing.
But the call from the Greens to ramp up the money Wollongong City Council spends on footpaths, making it safer for kids to walk to school, is spot on.
Many parents agreed with the Greens’ call to multiply the $18 million planned for footpaths next year. But many others said they’d never let their kids walk to school because they fear abductions.
Sure, the threat from perverts and dodgies in white vans is real, and horrific. Let’s not pretend it’s not. But the reason I haven’t let my boy walk to school yet is cars.
From home to my kids’ school is about 1km but whichever route you take, there’s long stretches of narrow road without a footpath, around several blind corners.
And what scares me is the number of large vehicles careening around the streets at school drop-off time – often driven by a stressed parent juggling a large coffee or a phone call as they race off to work straight through the pedestrian crossing because they’re too important to be slowed down.
Even the crossings aren’t always safe. Several times I’ve watched kids ignored by drivers who cruise through a crossing unawares. And given the size of many suburban tanks, any crash with a child is likely to be grievous. It’s dangerous on foot, or on a bike.
We see instances almost every day of unsafe driving near school. That’s a far greater prevalence than perverts in white vans.
My boy is well drilled never to accept a ride from a stranger. And he’s fast. But there’s nowhere to go when a big 4WD comes racing around the corner, driver distracted, not looking for pedestrians on the road. And that’s what footpaths are for.