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Archive for Thursday, October 15, 2009

Facility proposal

October 15, 2009

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To the editor:

Before much more hysteria builds behind the proposal to construct a luxury recreational spa in west Lawrence, I would like to suggest a modest alternative that is more in keeping with our current economy. I propose using the recreational funds to build a facility across the whole of our community that would benefit members of all ages and boost economic development at the same time. My proposal would reduce carbon emissions and traffic rather than forcing our citizens to drive long distances and create more traffic congestion. My proposed facility would be available to citizens 24/7, 12 months a year and not require a large staff to run. I realize that the facility that I am proposing would be a radical departure from business as usual and that many people will have difficulty adjusting to a healthy lifestyle. On the other hand, my proposal would encourage everyone in our community to exercise rather than a privileged few.

I propose making Lawrence a gold standard bicycle friendly community. The League of American Bicyclists (www.bikeleague.org) rates communities’ support of cycling on a scale that evaluates engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and planning. Lawrence currently only rates at the bronze level on the League’s scale. In addition to an investment in connectivity for bikers and pedestrians, the gold standard evaluates incentives for bicycle commuting to work and safe routes to school. I hope that our scarce recreational funds can be invested on the basis of rational comparisons of costs and benefits rather than hype.

Comments

Jimo 5 years, 2 months ago

I must have missed the part about "boost economic development". How again does taking money from taxpayers for poorly conceived and unnecessary show projects that benefit everyone only in theory "boost economic development"? (Might this irrationality be part of the reason Lawrence has such little economic development?)

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Economic development comes in many forms such as bicycles,bike tune ups,tire replacement,night riding gear. Some people several bikes .... after for the price of one car plus ownership responsibilities at about an average of $10,000 per year(depreciation,maintenance,gasoline,taxes) one could afford 59 bicycles@$600 each.

All of the above depends on whether one owned a Corolla,Camry or a Porsche 911 all very fine cars.

Then again 2 or 3 bicycles would last a person a lifetime and would save about $10,000 - $21,000 per year. All of which could be distributed throughout the economy in so many "more fun" ways thus more economic development thus more jobs for the community. Yes that new source of expendable cash for the community. Think home improvements,birthdays,anniversary,investments,exercise equipment for the home etc etc and organic wine to celebrate the healthier wealthier lifestyle(economic growth).

Walkers would fall into the above category however in addition to the above listed expenditures 2-3 pair of walking shoes per year would spur new economic development.

We must not forget the tax dollars we would save by not building many many multimillion dollar structures that for the most part do collect dust. Thus the cost of remaining healthy is transferred to the taxpayer. BTW cycling,walking and swimming are are so much more gentle on the knees,ankles and other joints whereas the new multimillion dollar facilities will likely contribute to the increased cost of health care thus increased cost in insurance = more expendable cash down the drain.

The letter writer is on the money.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Increased Walking and Biking can Improve Health

Creating safer places to walk and bicycle could have a profound impact on health in the United States. More than one-quarter of all trips are still one mile or less; At least 123 million car trips made each day in the United States were short enough to have been made on foot.

The CDC estimates that if all physically inactive Americans became active, we would save $77 billion in annual medical costs. In addition, walking and bicycling produce no toxic emissions.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Our transportation system should provide a secure travel environment, protect all users, use all available methods to reduce deaths and injuries from crashes, promote cleaner air and water quality, provide access to essential destinations, encourage healthy physical activity, and have the capability to maintain operations during emergencies.

The transportation system in communities affects health and safety, often engineering out opportunities for physical activity while increasing exposure to hazardous high-speed traffic and automobile pollution.

Car-oriented design and lack of transportation choice forces car-dependency, increasing traffic congestion and the amount of sedentary time people spend behind the wheel.

Rates of obesity in children are increasing to epidemic levels due to lack of exercise and poor nutrition; however, those who are engaged in healthy outdoors activities such as team sports are at higher risk of developing asthma.

In addition, a leading cause of childhood death is from car crashes while bicycling and walking. Yet transportation funding is most often spent making streets faster for cars, rather than safer for children and adults.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Over 113 million Americans live in cities with polluted air. It has long been known that poor air quality triggers asthma attacks, but recent research shows that poor air quality may actually be causing asthma.

Findings released by the University of Southern California in February, 2002 indicated that healthy children with prolonged exposure to smog (ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and small particulates) developed new cases of asthma. The most active children, those playing team sports outside, were three times more likely to develop asthma than their counterparts in areas with cleaner air.

Motor vehicles are responsible for one-third to one-half of the smog in most metro areas.

Asthma is the number one reason children visit the emergency room and miss school. A study in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics documented a significant drop in children’s asthma emissions when singe-occupancy vehicle use decreased due to the Games.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

About 41,000 Americans are killed every year on our nation's roadways, a casualty rate that has not changed significantly for a decade. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among people from age one to 34.

About 13 percent of traffic fatalities are pedestrians or cyclists, even though less than 6 percent of all trips are made on foot or by bicycle. Less than one percent of federal transportation funds are used for either facilities or safety for these two travel modes.

Few safety efforts have focused on ensuring that streets are safe and convenient for all road users. The overriding goal of traffic engineering is to improve roadway "level of service", so that more vehicles may travel at higher speeds, with pedestrian safety as a secondary issue.

Engineering solutions make roadways wider, straighter, and flanked by wide clear-zones. This has the effect of enabling higher travel speeds, and signaling to drivers that it is safe to drive faster.

Safety programs tend to be aimed at pedestrians and bicyclists, who often get blamed when victims in car crashes.

Increased Walking and Biking can Improve Health. Creating safer places to walk and bicycle could have a profound impact on health in the United States. More than one-quarter of all trips are still one mile or less; At least 123 million car trips made each day in the United States were short enough to have been made on foot.

The CDC estimates that if all physically inactive Americans became active, we would save $77 billion in annual medical costs. In addition, walking and bicycling produce no toxic emissions.

Jimo 5 years, 2 months ago

"Economic development comes in many forms such as bicycles,bike tune ups,tire replacement,night riding gear."

Again: How again does taking money from taxpayers for poorly conceived and unnecessary show projects that benefit everyone only in theory “boost economic development”? You do realize that to be "development" it must result in MORE economic stimulation than the alternative uses?

parrothead8 5 years, 2 months ago

Jimo...so your logic is that anything that doesn't make as much money as what's already happening is a bad idea?

I'm not sure it's wise to define the quality of all development solely by economics. I think there are other types of development that may benefit the human race, in the long run, more than just financial development.

Jimo 5 years, 2 months ago

parrot - you're free to evaluate anything by any means you prefer - the spiritworld, religion, aesthetics - just don't tell us that +1 and -1 results in economic development because you want to ignore the costs of your plan.

parrothead8 5 years, 2 months ago

I know I am free to evaluate things the way I want, Jimo. I'm asking YOU if economic development should always be the first and foremost way to measure projects we undertake as a populace...or if it should only be part of the equation?

And speaking of ignoring costs...what are the ongoing costs associated with running and maintaining a new athletic facility compared with the ongoing costs of maintaining bike paths?

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