You can't drive the roads in Fort Mill these days without finding yourself sandwiched between a cement mixer and a dump truck. Gooseneck trailers pulling backhoes are everywhere. I see new homes, new shopping centers and new office buildings going up. Streets are being repaved. Medians are being widened and perfectly landscaped. We're even installing some left-turn lanes with traffic lights.
These are all great steps to improving the look and functionality of our growing city, but I think we're forgetting two very important things. What about the pedestrians and the cyclists?
The government pays a lot of lip service to developing alternative fuel sources and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, but they fall short on putting any plans into action.
With gas prices over the $4 mark now, how long will it be before the cost for one gallon surpasses the hourly wage of many people?
While we're all going bankrupt waiting for water, another substance in short supply around here, to be turned into engine power, maybe we could start getting around on our muscle power by burning all the excess calories most of us have stored up as the new fuel. They do it in Europe and China all the time. Incidentally, they have a much lower incidence of heart disease and obesity.
While it may not be practical for many people to get to work on a bicycle, especially if their job is 10 or 20 miles away and they have to get there by traveling over busy highways, it certainly is possible to take a walk to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. That is to say, it would be possible if there were sidewalks.
How nice it would be to hop on a bicycle when going to visit a friend across town or to mail a letter a few blocks away ... IF there were bicycle lanes on all of our roads.
While we are spending millions of dollars and dozens of years designing and installing our future infrastructure, why can't we draw in a bicycle lane on those blueprints and pour a three-foot slab of concrete to walk on?
Creating an environment conducive to physical exercise and being outdoors may just be what gets more families off the couch. It has to involve safety, though. How long can we go on mixing those packs of 20 mph cyclists who take up the entire right lane of Hwy. 521 every weekend with the 60 mph motor vehicle traffic before tragedy strikes?
How many near misses happen on Hwy. 160 when drivers suddenly swerve over the center line to avoid hitting a jogger who is straddling the nearly non-existent shoulder?
If we, as a community, really encouraged and supported the choice to walk, run, and ride bikes, we'd make sure there was a designated section of road for it.
If anybody who thinks not enough people would use these areas, I say, if you build it, they will come.