Another beautiful day in Moorhead had arrived so my two year old son and I packed a bag and hit the streets. We would have fun by and by but first we had a mission to complete: we were out of cat food!
As we jogged along in the stroller we immediately ran into trouble. Although the neighbors down the street had conscientiously shoveled their sidewalk after the last snowfall, the plows had come through and piled up mounds of snow at the intersections. Not willing to shirk from a challenge, we carefully climbed up and then gently down what Dylan called the “really high mountain”.
Unfortunately, this scene played itself out many times over the course of our journey with varying degrees of danger and inconvenience. Most residences had shoveled their walks (except for the crucial intersection points) but several had not been cleared for some time and were impassable even to the rugged three-wheeled construction of our stroller.
Things became worse once we hit the high traffic areas of 1st Avenue North, Center Avenue, and Main Avenue. We had planned to visit Walgreens to buy our dry goods, but gave up once we were forced to run in the busy street for a hundred yards to pick up a sidewalk that had mysteriously disappeared. We did our shopping at Hornbacher’s instead, which we had to access by using the residential streets a block out of our way rather than Main Ave due to the unfriendly terrain.
Once we finished shopping we headed toward the Red River of the North, thinking we would find cleared trails and a more welcoming environment for those willing to occasionally travel without the impetus of gasoline. Not the case. Although I had seen cleared trails previously in both Fargo and Moorhead, they were drifted over on this particular day. The unexpected obstacle forced us into yet another mad dash along a roadway seeking safety and thinking about what would happen if I were driving and I was forced to adjust my route willy-nilly over and over again due to discontinuities, obstructions, and unsafe conditions.
It is now a week later and my wife and baby are napping while the wind and snow obliterate all traces of pedestrian walkways. My dictionary.com widget has alerted me that the word of the day is pedestrian – walker; also, unimaginative. Well let me assure you, my pedestrian concerns are imaginative, and I am counting on yours to be imaginative as well.
The city of Moorhead has been holding public meetings recently to update the comprehensive plan, which will dictate the rules by which future development will occur. I was able to attend a meeting on March 5th at the Minnesota State Community and Technical College that featured speaker Mark Fenton, a celebrity of sorts within the bipedal community. Mr. Fenton showed us slides of his adventure hiking in the mountains of California, photos of his past life as an Olympic level racewalking competitor, and pictures of some of the dangerous and unsightly pedestrian realities within our own fair city.
To be sure, there are many biking and walking trails within the city of Moorhead, and Fargo too for that matter. Mr. Fenton was willing to praise the good that exists while exhorting us to demand a better future for ourselves and our children, and I wholeheartedly agree. What is needed is intelligent and forward thinking discussion on issues that are important to us as citizens, not angry diatribes against the powers that be.
Our democratic system of government provides the opportunity and the obligation to involve oneself in shaping public policy, and I urge you to participate to the best of your ability. Your next big chance will be at the Hjemkomst, March 21st at high noon (info at http://moorheadplansforgrowth.org). If you are feeling adventurous, try walking to the event for instant credibility and karma!
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