There are a myriad of advantages to carpooling. Think of all the time families waste idling in Beijing traffic, especially if they have children attending different schools. Partnering with other parents to transport kids to and from school is a great time saver for busy families. We’d all like Beijing to be greener – so do your part to reduce energy consumption and organize a carpool!
Breakin’ the Law?
Because Beijing law draws no distinction between black cabs and private carpooling schemes, carpooling is technically illegal here. But as anyone who has lived in Beijing for a spell will tell you, the letter and the spirit of the law do not always go hand in hand here. In fact, the Beijing municipal government is simultaneously promoting carpooling while it remains illegal, through activities such as last year’s carpooling day and an authorized pilot program in Huilongguan run by local carpooling aficionado Wang Yong.
The local government has announced it will legalize private carpooling schemes in upcoming legislation, but in the meantime, the absence of regulation means that insurance issues may arise in the case of an accident on a declared private carpooling scheme.
There’s a comprehensive agenda piece on the issue here.
Here are some suggestions on how to find other families to share the school run with:
- At school: Speak to administration, use noticeboards, or chat up other parents at the school gates!
- In the community: Use supermarket noticeboards, our forums, online groups, and speak to other parents in your neighborhood.
Factors to Consider When Setting Up a Carpool
Tardy to the Party
Some kids regularly arrive in school at 10-past-the-bell, still cramming toast in their mouths and stuffing in their shirt-tails. If you carpool with the parents of these kids, remember a chain is as strong as its weakest link. So do some upfront espionage and ask your kids about the prospective family’s time keeping. If you’re the one who’s less than punctual, pick up your socks, kiddo!
Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You
For the comfort of everyone involved, consider hosting an informal get-together so families can socialize with each other before D-day. It’s important that the kids know and trust the drivers. Issues may crop up day-to-day which need the involvement of the parent-driver, so it’s important that a trusting relationship exists and kids know they have a responsible adult to turn to.
Every great movement needs a leader, and your carpool will be no different. If you like spreadsheets and route mapping, volunteer to put some structure on your group. Coordinating the schedule takes a little bit of effort, especially if your group contains more than one family.
Draw up the list of kid chauffeurs, note all of the school start and end times and locations, and schedule the drop-off and pick-up times accordingly. Remember every parent will have a different beginning and end point, and will drive a different route. Each one will need a different order of collection and return. This could be a project worthy of even Liz Lemon’s organizational skills.
Decide upfront what happens when the unexpected happens. Everyone involved needs a contingency plan for those days when illness or emergency keep you from taking your turn, or school gets out early or late. Make sure every parent has list of emergency contacts.
Agree on safety guidelines with the other parents. Issues such as safety belts, cell phone use, speeding, and waiting until kids enter the building all need to be addressed. Set ground rules and verify with your kids that they are being adhered to. Also it’s critical to make certain your child is aware of who is driving them each day. Train your kids to return to administration and call you if there’s a no show. And of course, it’s vital to reinforce that if they don’t recognize the driver, they don’t get in the car.
30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Before you sign up for a semester-long or year-long commitment, have a trial run. You can use this time can iron out any kinks, get familiar with each other, and work out whether the arrangement fundamentally works or not. If you decide you’d rather not continue, work out your painless face-saving excuse in advance. Loss of family time and adjustment issues are common blame-free white lies.
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