Time to Walk If They're Going to Keep up With the Talk

RECEIVED Wed., July 20, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Austin Mayor Will Wynn has announced that Austin will be the Clean Energy Capital of the World and the Fitness Capital of the World. The Texas Legislature has passed the Safe Routes to School Act. Unfortunately, this amounts to just about nothing. This is because the basics are being ignored. Cheap, unglamorous solutions to problems just aren't exciting enough for the folks in power.
    The cleanest energy is our own energy. The cleanest form of transportation is walking. Mayor Wynn talks about walking for fitness, but only downtown, and only on sidewalks. People who walk for transportation in Austin must walk on streets without sidewalks. So far, the city of Austin has declined to affirm the right of the public to walk in the pedestrian right-of-way, and the obligation to keep the right-of-way walkable. This means that safe routes to school must wait until money is allocated for sidewalks near every school in Austin. Fitness is for those who live and work along sidewalks. As for clean energy, forget walking; maybe we can have a giant biodiesel plant with a big parking lot, to fuel “clean” cars. As long as we underrate what is cheap, free, and simple in favor of glamorous, high tech solutions, we will not solve our problems. Solvitur ambulando; it is solved by walking.
    I'd be glad to write a column for the Chronicle, but I don't like the name “The Crackpot” [“Postmarks,” July 8]. How about “Velorutionary Viewpoint”?
Yours truly,
Amy Babich
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