I enjoyed and had some interesting thoughts about the Jan. 6 “Your Turn” by Dennis McCahon with the title "Helena needs a thoughtful walkability policy." As we look at walking around town, I realize that the walkability of Helena varies drastically based on where you live. My favorite place to live for walking was near the Capitol. The sidewalks, boulevards, landscaping, and walking paths make walking a pleasurable experience. Walking from the Capitol area, to Last Chance Gulch, up to the old mansion district is also an interesting and historical experience, though not all the sidewalks show good maintenance. There is a different problem with the east side of Helena, and much of the rest of the southern mountain access. There appears to be less attention to providing access for walkers and bikers who want to get to the wonderful hiking and biking trails that are one of Helena’s pride and joys.
The number of sidewalks and biking paths is particularly deficient in much of the east side. If you try to walk along Helena’s east side streets (Oaks is a prime example) for a hike, the lack of boulevards and sidewalks make it very difficult. If you add to that the collection of bushes and rock landscaping that has been put on the city right-of-way you encounter many places where walkers are forced to walk out in the street. After snow events, like the last few weeks, that street walking becomes narrower and more dangerous.
I strongly support the sentiment that Helena needs a thoughtful walkability policy. I believe that engaging and encouraging all Helena citizens to support good walking and biking access issues would make living in this fun community even better. Imagine a community where evening walks for most of the populace becomes a healthy and friendly alternative!
I am hopeful that the citizen’s council and city commission can address this problem in the near future. Walking and biking in our town and nearby hills make Helena a much more enjoyable place for many of our citizens! Now may be the best time to consider ways to innovate and build a new creative system of transportation that supports a happier, healthier, and simpler lifestyle.