Kaid Benfield Archive


Biking, walking to school illegal in Saratoga Springs

Kaid Benfield

Posted July 8, 2009 at 1:29PM

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  Maple Ave Middle School (image by Google Earth, boundary by me)

The headline reads like something from The Onion, no?  This comes to us via the WTF Department (actually from an article by Andrew J. Bernstein in The Saratogian):

"Janette Kaddo Marino and her son, Adam, 12, wanted to participate in the commuting event, so the two set off to Maple Avenue Middle School on bicycles May 15. The two pedaled the 7 miles from their east side home, riding along a path that extends north from North Broadway straight onto school property.

"After they arrived, mother and son were approached first by school security and then school administrators, who informed Marino that students are not permitted to ride their bikes to school . . ."

Here's another passage a little further down in the article:

"The New York State Department of Transportation manages a program called Safe Routes to School, which awards grant funding to school districts looking to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to schools.

"The program encourages kids to walk or bike to school, said Raj Malhotra, program coordinator for the Capital Region NYS DOT. 'Obesity is a big problem among children. It's an alternative transportation. It reduces pollution, saves money and improves the children's health,' he said.

"This year the DOT awarded $2 million in grant funds for transportation projects through the Safe Routes program, mostly to construct sidewalks, Malhotra said.

"Any school district can apply for funds, but Malhotra said Saratoga Springs had not.

"'I personally encouraged them to apply, but I was told that the school board policy considered it unsafe to walk or bike, and the policy is only to bus (kids to and from school),' he said."

It's worth pointing out that the route the Marinos were taking was the quieter of the two routes running north to the school's site.  North Broadway is the road on the left in the Google Earth image, heading for home plate in the southwest corner of the baseball diamond.  Also, one can't help but notice that, if the school were a true neighborhood school in the center of the community rather than on the fringe, whatever safety issues may genuinely exist would likely be alleviated. 

Amazingly, Saratoga Springs was cited only a week ago in Business Week, in an article titled "Livable Saratoga," to illustrate places "with a small-town feel where you can walk to work and shopping."  But not, apparently, to school.