Flipping the “switch” at 16?

by Frederick TransIT Community Relations Manager. 0 Comments

I was excited a couple of weeks ago to present information about TransIT to a local middle school language arts class. The students in the class are designing advertisements for our upcoming Bike To Work Day Event (www.biketoworkmetrodc.org) via the Frederick News Post’s “Design An Ad” program, and I wanted to give them some background to make their work a little easier.

 After Christian, our FNP sales rep, talked to the students about advertising, what it is and why businesses and people utilize it, I realized that I had a really sharp bunch of teenagers on my hands. They asked excellent questions and knew the answers to all of his inquiries. What I was about to find out was how much they knew, or didn’t know, about public transportation and transportation alternatives.


I had nothing to worry about – these kids surprised me with their knowledge of ways to travel that make a lesser impact on the environment and theirs (or their parents’) pocketbooks. Many of them said that they walk or ride their bikes to go on errands or get back and forth to friends’ homes, and a majority of them talked about carpooling to school or extracurricular activities with other families from their neighborhoods. I wasn’t surprised to hear that very few of them had ever been on a TransIT bus because their school and most of their homes are not within the urbanized area served by TransIT; however, a vast majority of students reported knowing about the buses and recognized the TransIT logo (good news for me as PR guru!). And several also mentioned knowing that the Boscov’s at Frederick Towne Mall is a major hub stop along several routes.   

The big question is, then, will they continue these healthy (for them and for the environment) attitudes and habits when they turn 16, that magic number that gives many of us access to the keys to our family car(s) for the first time and gives our parents a break from running us around all over town?


Recent studies have shown that although, since the 50’s, we have become primarily a nation of single person/single vehicle commuters/errand runners, the tide is starting to turn. In an article published on October 25, 2012, one blogger gives some really interesting statistics: (http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/which_us_metros_have_the_green.html):


According to Bike and Park, a start-up company which encourages cycling as an alternative to commuting by single occupancy vehicle, “In 1969, nearly 50% of children in the US walked to school; today approximately 13% of American kids walk to school.  Meanwhile the number of kids in the US that are overweight or obese has tripled.  Add to it the fact that 25% of morning traffic is created by parents dropping their children off at school and we have an even larger problem on our hands.”   http://bikeandpark.com/blog 


I blog about this to encourage readers to start thinking about alternatives to driving, alone in their own personal vehicle, as they travel to work or on errands. Not every location is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, or bus, but you may have neighbors or family members who would love to have company and share a ride to wherever it is you need to go, even if only once a week or even once a month. Our children watch our behaviors very closely, this we know and understand. We apply this knowledge to behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol use, nutrition choices, exercising….we need to apply it to the way we get around as well. 

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