From the EditorThere’s a reason I volunteered to be part of a committee that’s trying to make Cloquet more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
There’s a reason I volunteered to be part of a committee that’s trying to make Cloquet more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.
It’s not because I’m incredibly motivated and a fitness fanatic.
In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s because I gained 10 pounds in less than a year when I moved from a big city in Europe – where I didn’t own a car and walked and/or used public transportation to get everywhere – to a small town in the U.S. where it was far too easy to never get out of the car.
Going to the bank? Drive through.
Hungry? Drive on through.
America seems to be built around the automobile. There are drive-through banks, restaurants and pharmacies, drive-through coffee huts, even drive-through liquor stores (although not in Carlton County, to my knowledge).
It’s so easy.
Which brings me back to the “active transportation” committee, a group that’s trying to put the “active” back into transportation in Cloquet. It’s not only that we want people to be more active – after all, no committee can make people be more active, that’s a personal decision – it’s more that we’d like to live in a place where the active choice is easier to make.
Example A: Right now, pedestrians take their lives into their own hands to walk to Super One for groceries. Whether they come from the top of Big Lake Road or somewhere on the other side of Highway 33, there is no simple route for non-vehicular traffic to get to the grocery store. Exercise aside, what about people who don’t have a driver’s license but need to eat?
Example B: Getting to the bike trail that runs from the Park and Ride on Highway 45 to Carlton. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Except to get there with your three kids from the heart of Cloquet, a family has to navigate Highway 45 on bikes (not very safe, particularly due to the high number of logging trucks going back and forth to the mills) or load all the bikes in the back of the truck (which won’t hold them all) and drive there.
Too many obstacles for this naturally lazy – or efficient, depending on your point of view – woman. I need my exercise to be convenient, part of my day, rather than something I have to schedule on the calendar and dress appropriately for.
The work of this committee is just starting, and it’s important work. In this country, this state, this county, this town, we need to make exercise more a part of the day, not a scheduled event. But we need input from more people, folks who live in Cloquet and Scanlon and know the best routes for bikes and walkers, kids who need a safe route to school or the practice field, adults who don’t drive but have to shop for groceries and other necessities.
If you’d like to volunteer or know someone who could offer insight to some of the challenges of walking and biking around Cloquet and Scanlon, call Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grant coordinator Meghann Condit at 218-878-2846 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The next meeting is June 11.