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We're not doing our kids any favors

TREATI would like to commend Lake Oswego Police Lt. Doug Treat for “telling it like it is” in last week’s Ask a Cop column.

When I saw the subject of unsafe driving during school drop-off and pick-up, I expected a rather mundane response about the need for caution and safety on everyone’s part. Instead, Lt. Treat put the blame squarely on the shoulders of those to whom it belongs: all of us parents who spoil our kids by driving them individually to school each day rather than letting them walk or, God forbid, ride school buses.

The problem is far from unique to Lake Oswego and, unfortunately, is entrenched through a few generations of absolute indivisibility of movement and the automobile. Growing up in a town very similar to Lake Oswego during the 1960s and 70s, all of us walked or took the bus to school. In fact, it was a badge of shame to be among the three or four kids who got dropped off by a parent on a given day.

We would walk or ride bikes to friends’ houses, even if they lived a mile or two away; it was just the way you got around. But in the few generations between then and now, we have firmly indoctrinated ourselves and our children in the notion that the only valid way to go anywhere beyond the end of the driveway is to get into a car. Sure, it’s fine to walk or ride a bike for recreation, but most certainly not if you need to get from Point A to Point B. Only a car can be used for that purpose.

Since I spend much more time walking and bicycling than driving, I tend to see motorists as a threat and am a keen observer of their habits. Growing up, the only people who drove recklessly down our narrow street were teenagers; all the adults had kids who walked and played on the same street, so they weren’t going to put them at risk. Today when I see someone barreling down a residential street at 40 miles per hour, it almost always turns out not to be a teenager, but a parent yapping on a cell phone. And why not talk and drive? A dent made in the Escalade by someone else’s kid’s head won’t cost that much to repair.

Even when it comes to exercise, we cannot break free from our cars. If space aliens were to land at 24-Hour Fitness or Club Sport and see the parking lot brimming with cars but not a single bicycle outside, and then peer inside to see dozens of people riding stationary bikes in neat little lines, they would assuredly take off again and continue their search for intelligent life elsewhere.

Fortunately, childhood obesity, global warming and the notion that not enough dinosaurs are dying each year to keep up with our thirst for oil are all myths perpetuated by the liberal media. Otherwise we would all be in trouble.

Bruce Rehlaender is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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