*The ESLLC was tasked with writing a letter to their hometown politicians about the walkability, bikeability and access to public transportation in their towns and cities. Using Jeff Speck’s Walkable City, the students gave suggestions on how to make their hometowns safer, healthier and cleaner.*
November 1, 2015
Mr. Chris Kennedy, City Councilman
250 N 5th St.
Dear Mr. Kennedy:
I am a freshman student at the University of Denver and one of the classes I have taken on this quarter deals with the idea of walkability. As I have lived in Grand Junction all of my life, I compare my new lifestyle of living in Denver to what I have experienced in Grand Junction. In Grand Junction I have lived in five houses the lowest scoring an eight for the walkability score and the highest scoring a 21. My dorm room in Denver has a score of 69. This walkability scores range from zero to 100 and the higher your score the more capable you are to live without a car.
As you know as people use cars they produce Carbon Dioxide which is a main contributor to global warming. While a single car doesn’t ruin the world every third person in Colorado owns a car, and that means there are approximately 1.8 million cars in Colorado alone. That is why cities across America need to start focusing on the importance of how walkable a city is in order to decrease the amount of cars being driven on the road.
The most effective way in order to increase a cities walkability is in the design of the city. Even though Grand Junction is highly developed structurally there are a few things which we could do to increase the walkability. The way that the residential area near downtown is set up is a great model of how to make pedestrians safer; the way that parked cars line the sides of the roads along with the trees between the parked cars and the sidewalk. There are also multiple studies which show that streets which seem more dangerous tend to cause less accidents. Think of it like this, when you are driving down the wide, straight road of Patterson you pay far much less attention to your driving than you would at the weird crisscross intersection on highway 6 while going under the overpass of I-70.
People also enjoy walking more if there are some sort of a social hubs nearby that they can walk to. For example, a coffee shop every few blocks is something that people in nearby housing would enjoy attending on Sunday mornings.
One of the greatest possibilities of all ways to make a city more walkable is to welcome bikes. As bikes are introduced to roadways everything tends to slow down. As drivers pass road bikes they have a habit of slowing down in order to make sure they do not hit the bicyclists. If we were to incorporate bike lanes into our streets the amount of cars would be sure to decline as well as decrease the speed of cars and therein turn boost the confidence of safety in pedestrians. As they would be guaranteed to be safer; in one study it shows that only five percent of deaths occurred to pedestrians in collisions at 25 mph but if you increase the speed to 45 mph 85 percent of the pedestrians will be killed in the collision.
There are many other ways which can increase the walkability of a city, these ideas are greatly conveyed through the book by Jeff Speck, Walkable City. These three ideas, as I see would be some of the most influential in the walkable city score in Grand Junction, and therefore could raise the desire of many young educated people to move to Grand Junction but also help the local economy of the Grand Valley.