Letters to the Editor

Sidewalks first

October 15, 2009


To the editor:

I feel compelled to respond to Tuesday’s Journal-World editorial regarding recreational facilities.

As a Centennial neighborhood homeowner and taxpayer, I am deeply resentful of the city’s pursuit of yet another sports facility. What our city desperately needs is long overdue infrastructure improvement in the form of sidewalk infill and repair, particularly in older neighborhoods.

The city has built two enormous sports facilities on the southeast side in the last year, and some would argue that they were forced on the Centennial neighborhood against its will. All this spending was funded with a bait and switch campaign that purported to “improve our schools.” Did we really need TWO state of the art stadiums? Indeed, as a taxpayer, I will think long and hard before I ever again vote to approve additional funding for Lawrence schools.

And now the city is considering taking on millions of dollars in additional debt to build a new recreation facility in west Lawrence. It’s madness!

How about instead of spending that money to line the pockets of developers (who have been lobbying for this “play” boondoggle for a while), we build some sidewalks in neighborhoods (like Centennial) that have none?

If we, as a community, really cared about wellness, we’d put our money where it would make the most difference: getting people out of their cars and walking.


Plurilingual 8 years, 4 months ago

I love using sidewalks, but here in Kansas, they are practically useless for a good portion of the year. I don't know the details of this proposed recreational facility, so I'll refrain from commenting on that item.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 4 months ago

Sidewalks are not free. They get tacked on to the property owners tax bill.

Jimo 8 years, 4 months ago

Laura correctly understands that politicians love to have their names attached to shiny projects like athletic centers but are loath to mess with boring subjects like sidewalks or sewers. Besides, when was there last some survey on 'Best Places!" that reviewed the quality of a city's sewer?

Unfortunately, there is an inverse relationship to the importance of infrastructure and its actual value.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Yes Yes Yes

Additionally since the city owns right of way widen some existing walks. Yes make some of them transportation avenues for cyclists and walkers. This is a no brainer and cost effective. Wayyyyyy more attractive to existing and future homeowners.

Besides sports facilities rarely if ever payback.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 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 8 years, 4 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.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Oddly enough most people in Lawrence,Kansas do not use expensive high tax dollar buildings. Judging from what I see in all parts of the city the taxpayers are walking,jogging and bicycling outside regardless of the weather. Most everyday people are on the sidewalks and streets getting their exercise. I see the same thing in KCMO/JOCO twice a week. In the Brookside area walkers,joggers and cyclists are everywhere. Children are walking to schools and some elementary aged girls are doing their scooters to schools complete with backpacks.

Extravagant new buildings simply will not payback the taxpayers. Where are the chinning bars in our parks? Yes chin ups can be accomplished outside.

There are recent reports out and about stating this nation is running short on Vitamin D. The most economical source of Vitamin D is solar. Yes the report claims TOO MANY people are staying indoors instead of being outdoors that which includes our children.

Again widen many walks throughout the neighborhoods to accept cyclists and walkers. This expands the city inner urban transportation system. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyy less expensive to the taxpayers than new buildings that require tons of utilities and staffing.

Plurilingual 8 years, 4 months ago

Seamus - I'm not whining and I'm not an idiot. Using your same logic, people were walking in adverse weather (i.e. snow) long before the advent of sidewalks.

My point is that technology only does us good if we actually use it, regardless of whether some people have used it at some time in the past.

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