OUR OPINION: Redefining transportation challenges

If it doesn't affect me; I honestly don't care.

That seems to be an overriding sentiment in many facets of life today. And nowhere does that sentiment rise to the surface more than when use of public tax dollars come into play.

As an example, whenever the topic of transportation comes up, there always seems to be a chorus of complaints about how transportation dollars are being spent. The refrain is, "Why do we waste money on that? Just fix the damn streets."

Don't get us wrong, we don't like potholes either. The rough rides on some of the Capital City's streets are literally jarring. We too would love to have smooth, safe and clear roads.

And let's be honest, we do face some transportation challenges. But narrowly defining a community's transportation needs as to the conditions of its streets and bridges is far too short-sighted.

A sizable portion of our friends and neighbors either don't have access to a car or seldom use the streets to get to the store, work or school. As such, the conditions of our sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, as well as trails to these necessities of life are important.

That's where a local organization is stepping in to gauge just how big the transportation needs are in Mid-Missouri.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) is gathering information and input on how accessible active transportation is in Mid-Missouri. Active transportation is defined as "human-powered mobility" or any walking, biking and rolling, such as with wheelchairs or scooters.

CAMPO is seeking input as it drafts a comprehensive plan on how to improve the city's walkability, bikeability and non-motor mobility in general. It has gathered input through a public forum and "walk audits" where people participate in guided tours of some blocks to pinpoint where sidewalks, roads and crosswalks should be improved to better serve non-motor mobility.

The tours were not to disparage the city, but the purpose is to hone in on how we could do better.

The goal of the plan, which won't be completed until fall 2023, is to act as a guide for improving the safety and access for pedestrians, cyclists and other active transportation users.

Too often, our perceptions of how to spend or tax dollars are driven by how it specifically affects us.

We may see little value in a trail that we never use. We may think sidewalks in a neighborhood are simply a waste of money. We may question the value of transit when the bus is half-full.

But for some around us, those elements are, or could be, life lines to a fuller quality of life.

The quality of a good neighbor is to look out for those around you, especially for those who are vulnerable or in need. Exploring the true transportation needs in the community is a good use of public tax dollars if the study is used to define how Mid-Missouri can use its tax dollars to improve transportation access for all of its residents.

-- News Tribune