Enid, Oklahoma is developing a Master Plan for the city’s trail system, and residents are debating the wisdom of spending money on trails, particularly in light of the nation’s economic downturn.
The Enid News weighs in:
Walking trails provide both economic and health benefits
Enid is rightfully developing a master trails plan that would construct hiking and biking trails within our community. Many residents are balking at the costs for building such a trails system. Indeed, the costs are high. Many residents say the kind of money being considered for the trails program would be better used for roads, or better used for street sweepers or better used for some other need.
The reality is, any master trails program doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. The master trails program, if completed, will have to be done, but not at the expense of road improvements.
Too many Enid residents don’t understand the value of a master trails program because many people have not lived in communities that have these systems. Some may view it as a luxury item; however, in this day and age, it is not.
Trails systems have a number of benefits. First of all, they allow for safe walking and biking travel. We have many children who walk or bike to schools or to playgrounds or parks. Most of us would prefer our children not ride on the streets. Trails — if done properly — connect areas of town together where people can walk or bike safely to get to their destinations.
All of us have read about Oklahoma’s statistics when it comes to health issues. Trails provide a healthy alternative for people looking to get exercise and activity. And, again, they are a safe alternative.
Yes, trails are expensive. But, they cost a lot less to build than roads. The city has revenue bonds and some sales tax money to build roads. And, it may require another bond issue proposal to take care of moving road construction and improvement along faster.
With trails, the city can leverage its money against money available through the Department of Transportation. Also, public and private partnerships can be developed to construct trails. In other communities, corporations or foundations have helped those communities build their trails programs.
Don’t get mired down in arguments that we need streets more than we need trails. The fact is, we need both. And, we’ve got to find a way to pay for both.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize that this is the same Enid that has been mentioned several times on this site this year:
- A 16-year-old juvenile was arrested after he hit a cyclist with his automobile and then fled the scene, leaving the 61-year-old victim in critical condition. This just a day after a hit-and-run accident that injured a 12-year-old girl riding on her bicycle. [09-09-2008]
- Bicyclist hit by car in Enid, and the motorist was cited for “failure to devote attention to driving”. This follows the recent death of David Lee Harrison in Enid, who was hit when a motorist looked down to adjust his air conditioning controls. What’s with the drivers in Enid? Are they all that incompetent? [05-21-2008]
- David Lee Harrison of Enid, Oklahoma was killed after being struck from behind by a car. Harrison, 46, was riding his Allez Elite Vittoria bicycle when he was hit by a 2008 Toyota Avalon driven by Duard Spleth, 84, of Waukomis. According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol report, the cause of the accident was listed as “distraction inside vehicle”. Spleth said that he looked down to adjust the air conditioning controls on the steering wheel and hit Harrison’s bicycle from behind. [05-02-2008]
That so many incidents could come from one relatively small town (population of about 47,000) in just one year is quite incredible — and this list no doubt has missed more than a few less serious incidents.
So yeah, it sounds like Enid needs a trail system. Lets hope the community does the right thing.