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For the week of January 17 through January 23, 2001

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 rates.

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 evidence.

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 people drive.

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 much traffic.

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.




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