Ugh! My lungs still clog at the thought of the diesel emissions from the school buses I have to follow each morning. Do school buses get a pass on emissions, or do the school districts just evade action by the EPA and OEPA?
Way back in 2006, the Dayton Business Journal reported on several school districts that benefited from an OEPA program to retrofit 238 school buses to lower-pollution engines. None of the $120,000 was awarded to the Dayton school district. Since then, Dayton was awarded retrofit money several times. Perhaps the buses that serve my neighborhood were overlooked. Or worse: those buses were retrofitted, the exhaust has been reduced up to 80%, and the amount is still offensive to a cyclist waiting behind a bus while kids are boarding.
The transportation department of the Dayton School District offers this information:
The school district now advocates a neighborhood school program, in which students are enrolled in a school near where they live. With 22 elementary schools, 6 high schools, 2 special centers, and 2 community schools spread throughout the city, all are an easy bike ride away. So why drive the 8,000 miles each day?
The Transportation department is located at 4290 James H. McGee Blvd., Dayton, OH 45427. The Transportation Department provides the community a safe, professional and efficient means to transport eligible students in the Dayton area. We provide transportation for over 15,000 students to and from school, athletic events and field trips. Transportation is also provided for special events as assigned by the district superintendent.
Our school bus fleet travels over 8,000 miles per day and over 1.5 million miles a school year! The transportation department employs over 300 employees, including more than 250 qualified school bus drivers and substitutes. Additionally, there are highly qualified mechanics that maintain our fleet, body shop/metal workers to repair damaged school buses and trained paraprofessionals that ride and assist our special needs students.
The Dayton Public Schools transportation department has received the highest marks for safety and reliability from the annual Ohio State Highway Patrol inspection team. We strive to provide safe and reliable transportation for our students by managing effectively time, resources and personnel.
In 2009, the city received a grant of $583,000 to develop a "Safe Routes to Schools" program. The award went to five projects that focused work for Cleveland Elementary, Edison Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Kiser Elementary, and Ruskin Elementary. In support of the program the regional transportation planning agency, MVRPC, developed a well-reasoned plan for implementing similar programs for the entire city—and by example, for the entire Miami Valley. The federal money didn't arrive in Dayton until 2010, as reported by the Dayton Daily News.
I hope that the city and MVRPC continue to write grant proposals and fill applications for broadening the accessibility of schools, shopping, recreation, and places of employment for cyclists and walkers. Let's give those diesel school buses their final destination: the junkyard.
Ever the counting habit affects me. This morning, I counted 17 areas along the bike-commute where walnut alerts are necessary. While counting, I said good morning to some of the regulars: Gary and Amy on their tandem, Gladys, and Gene and his dog Patches. I also saw the group of regulars heading north from their start at the Gazebo. Usually they ride on Wednesdays, and often Bob Pinnell leads the ride. There must have been collusion among the five riders to change the day.
Temperature: 51 to 57°F at 07:45
Winds: calm to 5 mph from the south and east
Clothing: Skinsuit, longsleeve undershirt, ankle socks, open-finger gloves
Bike: Lotus Legend fixed gear
Time: 00:41:14 for 11.93 miles
Heart rate: 138 bpm HRave, 153 bpm HRmax
Bikeway users: 7 cyclists, 4 pedestrians, 1 dog
Playback of the ride