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Routes explained

August 8, 2012
The Mining Journal

To the Journal editor:

I read with dismay a recent letter to the editor from a person opposed to sidewalks on Altamont and Mesnard streets.

The letter writer suggested that the Marquette City Commission and particularly the mayor gave into "special interests" who want children to walk and bike to school.

Who are these special interests? Well, for one, the kids themselves. Ask a child if they would like to walk or bike to school and believe it or not, they do. Other special interest groups include the U.S. military.

They are concerned about the general lack of physical fitness among kids and are big supporters of the Safe Routes to School program as one way to get our children moving again.

Mission Readiness, a non-profit made up of retired military leaders who work to ensure our national security by calling for, "smart investments in the upcoming generation of American children."

One major factor that keeps young people out of the military is the obesity epidemic. Mission Readiness says it's "one of the top disqualifiers for military service," with one out of four young adults between the ages of 17-24 too overweight to serve.

One way to combat that obesity problem is to get them biking and walking to school. Here's how they put it: "While not a silver bullet to this multifaceted problem, one way to increase physical activity and promote weight control is increasing options for more students - and adults for that matter - to safely bike and walk."

Many people miss the point of Safe Routes. Bothwell and the neighborhood surrounding it do not have any sidewalks. If a child wants to walk to school they must walk the roads. Some roads near the school are safe enough without a sidewalk, such as Mountain, which has few houses and little traffic.

Others such as Mesnard and Altamont are busy enough that sidewalks are a must. In fact, just last year two people were hit by a car walking on Altamont. Safe routes are just not for children. Many poor people do not have a car, and older people like to walk without having to walk in the streets.

One city commissioner stated that there really isn't a need for safe routes since children don't walk to school anymore. Huh? Fortunately, in Marquette, most Commissioners and the Mayor get it.

Really, who wouldn't be in favor of Safe Routes to School?"

George Sedlacek




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