My wife walks our son and daughter to school each day. It's less than a mile, and they're able to walk with at least one of their other friends who live nearby.
I've pitched in a few times when my wife's been sick or had an appointment, and truth be told, really enjoy the time I spend with them during the 15 minute walk. I talk more with them during those few minutes than I do any other time of the day.
My son likes to talk about cars and video games. My daughter, who can be a chatter box, will fill us in on the latest playground gossip, and what tests she's concerned she hasn't studied for enough. It's a real bonding time.
But the one thing I've noticed is that we're pretty much the only parents who walk our kids to class. Most kids bike, or walk in small groups, but the majority seem to be dropped off and picked up in a car. And these are kids who live just a few blocks from the school!
Traffic congestion is awful, as most new developments just weren't built to have a school and handle the amount of cars we see lined up to drop off or pick up their kids. Quite honestly, I'm sure we get home before a lot of the parents who pick up their kids are able to snake their way through the residential area, into the school, and then make it out of the traffic.
Walking to school used to be something we all did when were were younger. Mom walked us to school, then as we got older, we were allowed to go on our own. I loved it. It gave me a sense of independence, and a time to think about everything...and somedays, nothing.
There were years I would walk three miles each way to school, in the rain and snow (yeah, I know, I sound like the kind of guy would say "up hill, both ways," and "get off my grass," and I probably will be/already am).
These days parents seem leery of letting their kids walk on their own to school, or just about anywhere. As a parent, and a new one at that, I guess I understand the concern. But it also pains me to see a part of childhood that was so important to me, and others, slowly disappearing.