Every time the walk to school debate comes up, I mentally trace my steps from my home on the corner of Cranford and Innes Rds in St Albans, Christchurch, to my first school St Albans Primary.

As a 5-year-old walking to school it was to my mind then, and still is, not an unreasonable amount of distance. It's a distance that I suspect today would be walked by about no one.

The latest numbers are out from the AA (and I might warn you it's an opt-in survey and you know how I feel about those). They sent it to 20,000 people; they got 1600 responses.

Be that as it may, I think we all know kids don't walk to school anymore.


And we have debates these days about the carnage at the school gate caused by parents and their cars, and their bizarre school drop-off and pick-up driving habits.

Beyond St Albans Primary there was Mairehau Primary. That was a joke of a walk - it was little more than five minutes.

Linwood High, though, that was a number of kilometres and mostly I did it on bike.

The upshot of my school days was that literally, not once under any circumstances, did I ever get a ride.

Never once picked up or dropped off, I walked or biked from the age of 5 to 16 every day, rain, hail or shine.

The reason that doesn't much happen anymore is we have gone soft, and we have found excuses to be soft.

The phrase in the AA survey talks about safe walking and cycling infrastructure, so you see we need infrastructure to get to school.

We did of course have infrastructure when I was a kid. It was called a footpath and a road.
I think they still have them.

We had a crossing outside the school. The rest of the time we, I suppose if you want to use today's language, we took our lives into our hands crossing roads, through the lack of safe infrastructure.


I don't recall losing any classmates. No one died or got run over.

Actually I got run over, but that was on a Saturday running to my Nana's house and it was entirely my fault because I was indeed at some safe walking infrastructure, notably a pedestrian crossing, but I was in a hurry and ran against the lights and got collected by a Morris Minor.

But as far as school went we all managed to arrive each day unharmed.

We all walked happily, but since then all we have done is invent a whole pile of reasons why that can't happen anymore.

Some are legit. Distance is one. We live often further away and kids come from rural or lifestyle areas.

Bags are another. Have you seen the size of school bags these days? They weigh a tonne.

But in reality, we have just gone soft.

We say things like it's dangerous, our kids may be nabbed even though there isn't a stat to prove that, they might get lost, it's wet, it's too far.

We have taken our anxiety and placed it on the shoulders of our kids. And I'm no different because I do the school run most days, so don't think I'm all high and mighty.

But really we should know better. There is no excuse for what we do, and what we have become.