To the Editor:
To all the neighbors (yes, neighbors, plural) on the south
side of Old Courthouse Road between Course Street and Pine Valley whose sidewalks I shoveled today:
Don’t thank me, I didn’t do it for you. I did it for all the kids –
including mine – who walk to school, or who would, if only there were a safe pathway to walk. I know the sidewalks probably don’t seem important to you; after all, once you cleared your driveway, you’re pretty much good, going straight from your car into your house through the garage or carport. You may even think the sidewalks aren’t even your responsibility, being public property and all. (You’re wrong on both counts. They are critical, and they are your responsibility, and if you’re not physically able to clear them yourself, there’s a teen job
bank number you can call (703-255-6360) that will match you with a youngster to clear your sidewalks for a nominal fee.) Maybe you don’t realize how hard it is to trudge through that foot-deep snow, which is thigh-high to a 6-year-old, or how much more difficult it is for them to have to wear snow boots to school, and carry sneakers to change into (because those are required for gym class and recess, etc.). Extra items which, incidentally, the teachers have made sure to let us know
they don’t appreciate because of the time it takes to get a bunch of 5- and 6-year-olds into and out of all that gear.
So why not just drive my kids to school while there’s all this snow? Heck, I’d love to! I’m as lazy as the next guy, by nature, and I don’t really relish walking in cold, snowy weather myself. Unfortunately, the County’s horrendous inability to plow anything but a barely-passable two-traffic lane to Westbriar has made passage to the school by car a complete nightmare. The Kiss & Ride line, normally a good 30+ minute wait, is now twice that long because of all the parents who have to drive their kids rather than walk, and that line essentially stretches
almost half the way back to my house, making the drive seem a bit silly since the walk takes a whopping 6 minutes. Of course, I’d be happy to park on the school block and walk in from there to get my kids, but unfortunately there are no parking spaces anymore (because that’s where the County left all the snow), not that the absence of cleared spaces stops people from just parking there anyway, usually half out into the
already narrow driving lanes. Assuming I wanted to just park in a snow bank like so many others do, I’d be putting my kids at considerable risk with all the excess traffic, trying to access my car without having to dig through a snow bank to get to it.
But that’s all rather beside the point. We should be able to walk to school. It’s three blocks. The weather this week will be 50+ degrees most days. We don’t need to be adding to the traffic that already makes the route to and from school hazardous, especially when there are people who live much farther away who genuinely need to drive. The rest of us
neighbors all managed to clear at least a foot-wide path on the
sidewalks in front of our houses. We did it because we know it’s not all about us and how busy we are or how much we hate shoveling or how much it would cost to hire a teen to do it for us. We did it because it’s safest for the kids who walk to and from school. It’s safer for the people who walk their dogs, and need to not do it in the street. It’s safer for our mail carriers and delivery people, and anyone else who might need to use the sidewalk. And we did it because it’s the right thing to do.