Saturday, August 4, 2012

Please Pick Up Newspapers in your Neighbor's Driveway

I cycle.  And since I dont like getting hit by cars, I cycle on back-roads.  And cycling in the back-roads of Arlington, one of the thing that dumbfounds me is seeing piles of newspapers sitting at the end of driveways - announcing to the world that the residents are on vacation and please come rob the house.

Photo by Theilr (CC)
Do your neighbor a favor - for that matter do yourself a neighbor - pick up those newspapers.  Dont wave a flag that there are empty houses in your neighborhood.  You dont want your neighbor's house robbed - and you dont want crime in your neighborhood.

The City of Oklahoma Police gives this advice:
Good neighbors should look out for each other. Get to know your neighbors on each side of your home and the three directly across the street. Invite them into your home, communicate often, and establish trust. Good neighbors will watch out for your home or apartment when you are away, if you ask them. They can report suspicious activity to the police or to you while you are away. Between them, good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence by allowing vendors to mow your lawn or remove snow. Good neighbors can pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and can inspect the outside or inside of your home periodically to see that all is well. Good neighbors will occasionally park in your driveway to give the appearance of occupancy while you are on vacation. Allowing a neighbor to have a key solves the problem of hiding a key outside the door. Experienced burglars know to look for hidden keys in planter boxes, under doormats, above the ledge. Requiring a service vendor to see your neighbor to retrieve and return your house key will send the message that someone is watching. This neighborhood watch technique sets up what is called 'territoriality' which means that your neighbors will take ownership and responsibility for what occurs in your mini-neighborhood. This concept works in both single family homes communities and on apartment properties. This practice helps deter burglaries and other crimes in a big way. Of course for this to work, you must reciprocate and offer the same services.
  • Get to know all your adjacent neighbors

  • Invite them into your home and establish trust
  • Agree to watch out for each other's home
  • Do small tasks for each other to improve territoriality
  • While their on vacation, pick up newspapers and flyers
  • Offer to park your car in their driveway
  • Return favors and communicate often
When I am not on a bike, I am walking the dogs in my own 'hood.  You bet we watch the neighbors - pick up the papers - check on them in storms - help shovel snow.  As GoRemy says, this is my town. Arlington is a great place to live - let's watch out for each other.

Arlington Public School Buses - New Plans Will Result in More Cars Near Schools

Back to school night is always fun.  You get to see the school. You get to meet the new teachers.  You get to ask questions.  And without exception, the most common question and the question that has the most anxiety: the bus system.

Superintendent Murphy has worked hard to improve the APS bus system.  And it needs improvement.  Last year, at one point, our bus was running irregularly and early.  One morning it came so early it left all the students at the bus stops.  When we called, we were told our students had been late to the stop.  The problem with that excuse, the school principle drives by the bus stop every morning.... and knew better.  With the help of the school principle, this situation was rectified.  But other problems continued... with students getting lost in the system, parents unable to confirm where their students are, and students simply getting left behind.

With Dr. Murphy's new transportation system, you apparently are going to get a voucher if you live more than 1.5 miles away from the school.  If you live 1.4 miles from school, you dont get a voucher, you dont get on the bus - you are SOL.  What does Dr. Murphy advise?
Otherwise, we hope you will encourage your student to walk or bike to school - this is a healthier option and will otherwise help our environment by reducing the number of cars transporting students to and from school.
Bullshit (oops. Am I allowed to say that on the Internet?).  First, the most dangerous place for students to walk or bike is anywhere near a school at the start of school.  Parents flagrantly violate traffic laws and Arlington police do not enforce them.  I am a full time bicycle commuter.  I have been a bike commuter for almost 40 years.  I dont bike anywhere near a school during opening. (BTW if APS is serious about bikes as a means to get too and from schools, perhaps APS would be willing to install Capital Bikeshare stations at Arlington High Schools)

This also fails to take into account lousy weather.  And we know over the past few years the weather has gotten lousier.  Snow storms. Rain storms.  Cold.  Walking or biking to school isnt viable in those weather conditions.

This also fails to take into account whether there are safe routes to school.  Some routes to school that may be less than 1.5 miles from the school involve crossing major rush hour roads with high traffic volumes.  These are roads and intersections designated on Arlington Bike Maps as dangerous intersections.

So what does this add up to - its easy math - those students who live just inside the 1.5 mile perimeter - are going to get driven to school - which will increase the environment impact, increase the number of cars transporting students to and from school, increase traffic congestion near schools, and increase the risk of traffic accidents near school.

I applaud Dr. Murphy on working to reform the bus system.  But creating a voucher system, and refusing to transport students who live just less than 1.5 miles from school - is only going to make things worse.