Sidewalk expansion creates safe walking routes

This is a first-person account, supplemented with opinions of others.

Unless you have been walking around with your head in the clouds, you cannot help but notice the new sidewalks the city of Murray has begun constructing.

The sidewalks are currently being constructed on 16th Street and reach as far as Campus Core. In the past, it has been a miserable experience trying to walk along this road; therefore I have always elected to drive. Until now.

I extend a challenge to the students of Murray State, based on a little bit of math that I did when it came to how much gas my car was guzzling. While my ever-faithful 2004 Ford Taurus (affectionately known as Toby) has always gotten fairly good city mileage, even at the dreaded Five Points, it has been burning a hole in my bank account and in the environment.

This is why I suggest students try substituting their car for the sidewalk, even if it is just for one day.

This would be a great practice for a few reasons.

First, you’re going to save money, point blank. I put Toby the Taurus to the test, and based on the distance I drive each month and the 16 gallon gas tank it boasts, my car requires between two and three trips to the gas station each month.

The cost of each fill-up is approximately $46, assuming gas stays around $3.75 a gallon. This means an average of $115 a month, which is a staggering $1,380 out of pocket each year – and that’s only if gas is the same price for the entire year. Heaven forbid the nation should reach $4 a gallon average.

Second of all, cars release carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which if you dozed through a handful of science classes, are contributors to the greenhouse effect. As more cars are produced, there is an increased need for roads. As more cars drive on those roads, the more the world delves into fossil fuel reserves. Fuel production can actually be just as costly as driving the cars themselves, as noted during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Car manufacturers have made significant strides in making more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf, but let’s be honest—I can’t afford a hybrid car any more than I can afford to be seen in the morning when I wake up. That, and my car and I have been through a lot. However, I do plan to take advantage of the sidewalks that have been a long time coming. It would be irresponsible not to.

Hannah Koch, senior from Louisville, Ky., said she wished that the sidewalks had come sooner.

“I’m graduating in May, and while it’s great that there are finally sidewalks, I can’t help but hate the timing of it,” Koch said. “But I am glad that future students will enjoy them.”

In the past Koch has avoided walking to class from her apartment off-campus.

“There just really wasn’t an adequate way for me to get to class without feeling like there were safety issues,” she said.

Annie Noltemeyer, senior from Louisville, Ky., has benefited from the sidewalk construction.

“As luck would have it, my car broke down and I’ve been walking to my job across town from my apartment,” Noltemeyer said. “The walk really isn’t that bad, and it’s definitely easier with the sidewalks.”

Pick your poison, folks. The sidewalk is there for your use, and if you’ve always thought about helping the world you love, this is your chance.

So, you can continue to drive your car every day, back and forth, back and forth. Or, you can take your bicycle out just a few times a week, or even walk.

Personally, I will be cutting back on the trips that I make to and from my apartment throughout the day. I will walk to Book N’ Bean for coffee if I’m on campus. I will even give up the time I spend putting on mini-concerts in my car for the short trip from my apartment to my friend’s house. But most importantly,

I will make a change for the environment.

What will you do?