...five miles a day in cardboard shoes....and so on. Have you been waiting to pass along this rant to a child who complains about having to walk between home and school? You might have to wait to pass along this chestnut for a lot longer. Kids aren't walking to school anymore.
It's not necessarily because they're spoiled, lazy or over scheduled. According to a University of Michigan researcher, concerns about safety are the main reason that less than 13 percent of U.S. children walked or biked to school in 2004, compared to more than 50 percent who did so in 1969.
Why? Part of it is the structure of the environment---fewer sidewalks and tree-lined streets are built these days. Some of it is distance. Although not described in this current article, I remember seeing a study describing that the new cul-de-sac and other neighborhood layouts discourage walkers because it takes longer to get to stores and schools than a traditional block plan.
It seems a shame to know that this piece of cultural history is declining, but I do notice that fewer and fewer sidewalks and safe places for kids to walk are being built these days. If you see the same thing in your area, encourage your neighbourhood to apply for a federal grant to build sidewalks. You can find more information on this and other safe route ideas at the National Center for Safe Routes to School organization.