Foolish, fat and lazy?
Downtown Ketchum during the day is a joke—and
the joke’s on us.
Traffic congestion is the rule. Rude
drivers raise everyone’s blood pressure, not to mention their insurance
Everyone in the valley has a story about a
rude or dangerous driver. The griping and complaining fill hours over
coffee or cocktails.
Bigger roads, bigger parking lots, smaller
buildings and banning cell phones all come up as solutions as the
self-appointed traffic engineers and self-appointed traffic cops go on and
on. Yet, the one solution never mentioned is the only one that will reduce
traffic congestion: walking.
It’s funny. In mountain towns like ours
we think of ourselves as smart, fit and independent. We have a high level
of education. We ski, bike, and hike. Yet, most of us have eliminated
walking around town from our daily lives.
Writers from other places regularly make
the mistake of calling mountain towns Meccas for jocks. The description
conveys the idea of glowing good health, fitness and pedestrian-friendly
communities. If only they knew.
If they hung around longer, they would find
that the average residents of a Western mountain town may not be as fit as
their New York City cousins who walk miles each day in the concrete jungle
just to get to work or shop.
Are we mountain types lazy? Consider the
There is no place in downtown Ketchum much
more distant than 10 minutes by foot from any other place. Yet, instead of
escaping the madding crowd by walking from place to place, the majority of
A typical scenario for Ketchum’s daytime
inhabitants is to drive two blocks from an office to a restaurant. Then it’s
another two- or three-block drive to the post office with three blocks of
circling to find a parking place close in. Count two more stops on the way
back to work—all the while complaining about too little parking and too
All day long workers play cat and mouse in
two-hour parking zones downtown because they refuse to walk the distance
from unregulated parking areas.
Fewer and fewer people question the wisdom
of new developments on the fringes of the valley’s downtowns that force
people to drive to complete simple errands.
We should not be surprised to wake up one
day and find that every urban ill someone moved here to escape is
increasing at the same rate as our waistlines. We should not be surprised
one day to see what were once beautiful mountain towns described as Meccas
for the foolish, fat and lazy.