Walkable Communities

As Linda will tell you, walking is not my thing. Strange then that I spent 3 or 4 hours on Friday, the 21st of May, learning about efforts around the State of Idaho to create more livable communities. This was a Safe Routes to School presentaton by Elene Clegg of Idaho Smart GrowthContact: elaine@idahosmartgrowth.org

Most of those attending were associated with government or engineering or both and then there was me. I was there to hear about Complete Streets which may be coming to Lewiston in a small way. Complete Streets legislation when adopted by a community, county, or state provides guidelines for development that considers all modes of transportation rather than just the motorized variety.

Much of the presentation dealt with something called “infilling” to increase population density instead of spreading it out into the suburbs. Compact communities with a mix of housing types and jobs and shopping all within walkable or bike-able distances.

It was all very scientific, data-driven and government involved. I couldn’t help but think of a conservative argument I had read about the “War on the Suburbs. These folks were definitely talking about moving to a different life style that is more focused on living and working more closely together with less dependence on the automobile and more exercise in the form of walking and biking.

At the end of the session a city engineer asked for help and input on a couple of projects. One involved paving and putting in a cross-walk from Prospect Avenue down to and across Snake River Avenue to the bike path. The path is already there. Look across the street and a little north next time you are at the boat launch.

he second project involved walking and bicycle access to the levy path system from places like the Red Lion and Memorial Bridge. Did you know that’s not a public alley at Hahn Supply? Did you know that children from North Lewiston walk to Whitman School and must navigate that intersection on the south end of Memorial Bridge? Or, how’s a guest at Red Lion ever to get to Locomotive Park?

Somebody’s got to think about these things.

And so it was that I found my self hearing Ray LaHood quoted once more about equal status for bicycling along with cars. I had to check out the window quickly to make sure I was still in Idaho, Lewiston, no less.

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