Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Things useful for bringing up children without a car

A bus route

Living in town is helpful, but above all, living on a bus route is helpful, because children can learn to use buses quite easily, and if it stops nearby you can go door to door to a lot of places that can't easily be reached by car.

Annie used to go to her violin lessons on the other side of Oxford from an early age by herself. It seems as if it was from the age of about 6 or 7 (but I wonder if this was really so? She'll probably correct me if I'm wrong). See her onto the bus at one end, and she would arrive safely at the other, with her quarter-size violin, where her teacher's house was a short walk from the bus stop just beyond the railway bridge.

Both the children sampled the use of the bus to go to School at the age of 11. This involved changing buses in town. Older children would help the younger children to manage the journey and to change buses safely in town. Several local families were making this journey regularly from East Oxford to North Oxford, to a variety of schools in the same part of town, and the children all got to know each other and to look out for each other at both ends.

The main problem with it was the amount of time it took to do the journey by bus, because of changing buses, so they had to leave before 8 in the morning, even though the journey was only about three miles. Our girls took to cycling instead as soon as that seemed safe, because cycling took about half as long. But still, it was useful to have the bus as an option, particularly when the cello had to go to School too.

And then we used to use the bus to go to the railway station whenever we had a substantial amount of luggage, such that cycling was not an option. Many a happy holiday began with a number 4 bus to the railway station, and most holidays ended the same way.

None of this would have been easier with a car. Actually just about all of it would have been a complete nightmare if you'd tried to do it by car. So, for a happy life, a good bus service, not less than every ten minutes and preferably direct to the railway station is an absolute must. I think in old age, a regular bus service to the hospital is probably more important still, but old age is not the topic of this post right now.


Elizabeth said...

'Many a happy holiday' - all the happier once we actually got to the station, past the inevitable nail-biting moments when the bus didn't show up and then sat in town to change driver or whatever and we weighed up whether despite heavy luggage it would be quicker to get out and run...

Catherine Rowett said...

Well, yes though I seem to remember that your nail biting didn't stop with arriving at the railway station. And there were some equally nail biting moments when we'd chosen to go by taxi, as I recall.

Annie said...

I think I might have been 7 when I started learning with Sue. Definitely not older than 8 :)