Letters to the editor
The ways less traveledI’d like to preface this letter by making it clear thatI am a patriotic American, I am a native of Eagle County and I do love many things about the Vail Valley. However, we do have some problems in the valley, many of which are becoming exponentially worse. Multiplying cars and people have produced increasingly more traffic and other related problems. This is the foundation for my letter: the travel predicament in and around the Vail Valley. I spent some time skiing in Switzerland last season. The majority of the villages where I stayed were automobile- and truck-free – only electric powered cargo and people movers allowed. In one village, there was just one powered vehicle used for moving large deliveries from the train station. The town is situated on a small plateau and is slightly slanted so the entire town can use sleds for transportation. Everyone from grannies to kids were sledding with bags of groceries, backpacks and other personal necessities. No one was put off by having to step aside for sledding traffic, no obscenities were exchanged between commuters because one may be inconvenienced. It is merely the way of life. The less use of petroleum-powered motors, the better. It is the public creed of the Swiss.This year I am living in France. The French are surprisingly similar to Americans in so far as the love of the automobile. The difference is that a gallon of gas averages more then $6 in France, so every car is small and completely efficient. Pickups or SUVs are rare. However, like the Swiss and other Europeans, walking and the use of other non-petroleum vehicles is encouraged for transportation. Fuel and natural resources are a precious commodity in Western Europe, and governments are constantly trying to make conserving power and resources easier for the public. For instance, in France this year the major grocery stores agreed to stop giving out plastic bags and started selling inexpensive durable reusable shopping sacks. Toilets are usually equipped with a “half-flush” option for those smaller occasions. Most lights in Europe are on a timer system or require a key to turn on. A clothes dryer is almost non-existent; most people rely on the use of a collapsible drying rack. And, for me, the most remarkable government provided service are the walking and bike paths that can be found everywhere. Bike paths are integrated into city roads and recreational paths criss-cross towns, through farms, over and around mountains and across countries.When I returned from Switzerland last year, I was forced to recognize our complete disregard for the citizen who prefers self-powered transportation to the automobile. My boyfriend and I only have one car and on most days, he drives or we carpool one-way. Last winter, I wanted to meet some friends in Avon for a beer after work and decided I would run from work at the Cascade. I’m aware that the bike path is closed from Intermountain to Dowd Junction, but walkers constantly jump the fence and there is often a path. However, the county does not maintain the path from Dowd Junction to Eagle-Vail. Fearing death if I ran on Highway 6, I finally conceded to the ill-maintained path and called someone to pick me up. I started becoming more aware of the shortage of cleared paths around the valley, including the beautiful path that connects the Cascade village to Lionshead. Last summer, I commuted by bike from Minturn to Vail and then onto Edwards in the afternoons. I overlooked cars honking at me, I tolerated the trucks that tried to cream me in roundabouts. … I ride my bike out of necessity, I’m one less car on the road! I often thought of writing letters of retaliation, but decided it would only encourage those who consider cyclists a nuisance.While running last week from my village to the next to meet my boyfriend after work, I counted 28 people walking between the towns. …There are an astonishingly few overweight people despite the huge quantities of cheese consumed and very few workout gyms. On skis, with snowshoes, in old leather boots, people walk or ride bikes everywhere! And they DO go by self-propulsion because they are given the right-of-way to do so. I also noticed a sign near our house on the road indicating that cars must give cyclists a meter and a half when passing. This struck a chord and I was finally aggravated enough to write a letter to the editor. Why is it we are incapable of embracing this ideology? Is it because we prefer to walk indoors on electronic treadmills looking at CNN and sports news instead of enjoying nature? Are we so pressed for time we are unable to walk anywhere? Does the county not have enough money to maintain pathways during the winter so workers can commute by self-power? Are we so intolerant of cyclists on the road because we are yearning to be outside and active rather then driving our oversized cars stressing about all the work we have to finish before dark? Are we so overcommitted during the day we have too many things to fit into a backpack and ride our bikes to and from meetings, work and other engagements? Do we not value our health enough to want to be outside as much as possible getting exercise?All I ask is you, the reader, mull over these questions for a minute or two. Maybe next time you need to go to the store for a few things, you’ll think about walking or taking a bike. Perhaps you’ll write your local lawmakers asking for better recreational paths. Maybe you’ll realize that the person on the bike this summer is commuting and give them a break, possibly even thank them for not driving and adding to our growing traffic. Thank you for taking the time to read this long overdue letter. Kelli Anthony Minturn Wildlife overpassLet’s tell it like it is. George, the elk, died because I-70 blocked his way to the southern exposure where elk need to be to survive. George doesn’t know how to go into a cave (Dowd Junction game underpass). It is not a natural thing for elk. It’s like trying to put a horse in a horse trailer for the first time. What is needed is a British Columbia overpass with natural trees, grasslands and assorted vegetation. The biggest bottleneck for wildlife migration is at this point of I-70 (Dowd Junction). If the county really cares about wildlife they would help do something instead of bothering the ranchers with rules and regulations.Let’s call it George’s Overpass, so George didn’t die in vain.Corky FitzsimmonsClose encounterRecently we spotted from our home at West Meadow Drive a deer at the Gore Creek right in the middle of Vail. Isn’t it beautiful that animals still can go along Gore Creek until they reach the wetlands between Lionshead and Vail Village and stay there to live with us? The deer seemed to have the feeling that this is a nice and warm place. It seemed to be a mother cow with a baby, because the animal was pretty thin and you saw the bones sticking out, but her belly was big.This morning some of our neighbors discovered the sensation and the whole family started to run for deer watching. They wanted to see the deer eye to eye because you seldom see a deer that close, especially when it cant run well. But the deer didn’t want to see the family. So the deer left and the whole family followed with big “Halloo! Daddy look!” and so on. The deer is gone and the whole family got wet feet. Might be we should get a well paved river walk, so that deer watching will get easier.Otto WiestVailVail, Colorado
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