Featured on the front page of the 1960 Sun today was an article about the lack of sidewalks in our Cypress communities. This is a great issue and I hope it gets a lot more press. While Houston launches a huge parks project to connect the bayous with miles of walking/biking trails and navigable waterways, our local roads make no concessions for those who wish to walk and bike to neighboring locations.
For example, our area features a number of elementary schools embedded in the communities. However, few of the communities offer a sidewalk or bike path to allow our kids to walk or bike to the neighborhood school. Instead we see countless SUVs clogging the neighborhoods every morning and forming long lines for the car rider drop offs because the kids had no way to navigate the often short walks to the school.
Recently a swim coach at the local Fleet swim academy was killed in a traffic accident as he attempted to walk home along a busy stretch of road that has no pedestrian path or sidewalk and features steep drainage ditches along the edge. This is the status of most of our roadways between neighborhoods and his, unfortunately, is not the first death caused by a lack of pedestrian paths. It creates an unsafe and an environmentally unfriendly community. All of us here in Cypress know that within a mile of our homes there is typically a school, pharmacy, hair or nail salon, and local eateries. Wouldn’t it be great if we could stroll over to these places in the evening or send the kids to their friends’ houses without having to get into our trucks and SUVs to drive them the mile? Wouldn’t it be great to walk our dogs and take a jog without worrying about being hit by a car?
Other areas of the country pride their walkability. Generation Y has stated in poll after poll that when looking for their next home they are looking for that tight community feel. Localism is in and big box stores are out. We want to live, work, and thrive in our small communities. In Cypress we are blessed with the beauty of the natural environment: tall pines, graceful oaks, tropical plantings. But when cruising in the car to go one mile down the road it becomes a little hard to enjoy it.
I’d really like to hear some comments on this issue. The precinct says we can’t afford it. But public opinion still has power in the public offices. What do you think?