Why you shouldn’t drive to school

PACKED PARKING LOT at San Clemente High School Robert Schumacher

Robert Schumacher | Writer

January 21, 2022

A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is over 50% of an average household’s annual CO2 emissions. This means that if students were able to stop driving (or being driven) to school, we could cut down on half our emissions almost instantly. It seems obvious that cutting down on driving should be a no-brainer if our students want to make a difference in the battle against climate change. 

While students may feel like driving is their only option to get to school, walking and biking are two simple alternatives already taken by many SCHS students. “I like walking to school because I only live a few minutes away from campus,” senior Seth Hahn said. Not only does walking and biking to school cut down on emissions, but the exercise and fresh air gained from these activities is known to improve your mental and physical health.

Another problem arises for students who live too far away to walk or bike. Many of our students live in the Talega area or farther and don’t want to be exhausted each day from a long walk or bike ride. This is completely understandable. It’s also easily avoidable. Taking the bus or any other form of public transportation to get to school greatly reduces the emissions we create as a student body. 

Well, what if there is no bus route that comes close to your house, or you have an irregular schedule like a zero period or no 6th? An easy and fun solution is to carpool with friends. The less cars we have on the road, the less emissions we are creating.

CONGESTED TRAFFIC caused by school drop off OC Times

Sadly, most students, and Americans for that matter, are extremely attached to their cars. Less than 15% of Americans use any transportation other than a car to commute, since cars are currently the most convenient way to travel. Justus Timmerman and Danny Woodward, both seniors at San Clemente, cited driving to school as the “most convenient, easiest, and fastest” way to get to and from school. San Clemente and most American cities are designed not for people to walk or bike, but to drive. Our public transportation is atrocious compared to other developed nations around the world. Our streets are wide, and our sidewalks are narrow (and nonexistent on some roads). Our bike lines have no physical barrier from the road, and force cyclists to ride next to cars going upwards of 40 miles per hour. Understandably, some people do not feel comfortable with so little protection. However, this is a condition we have to deal with for now. 

How can we as a population improve the issue of lack of biking accommodations? Luckily, the city will have to change if the people’s habits do. How do we encourage the building of better public transportation, and infrastructure that designates a safe commute whether it be for work, school, or a vacation? The only way for student’s voices to be heard on an issue is to take action. It is to leave the bike racks overcrowded and our parking lots with empty spaces. 

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