Since settling down in Star eight years ago, I've quietly harbored a growing annoyance over the Treasure Valley's ridiculous sidewalk situation. No, I'm not referring to the sidewalks within subdivisions or older, more established neighborhoods. Instead, my aggravation is fixated on the gaps between that stop my mom from moving to Idaho.

Mommy Issues

It was the summer of 1965 when Mom fell out of a moving vehicle. At five-years-old, Lynnie was a bright, happy girl on a joyride in the back seat of my Grandpa Doug's 1960-something blue Bel Air. It was the time before speed limits existed in Chicago, so Grandpa was cruisin' along at a cool 80 miles-per-hour.

No different than most children her age, Lynnie was full of rambunctious but still harmless curiosity. But in a terrifying turn of events, Lynnie's fascination with how the Bel Air's "buttons" worked nearly ended her life. She knew the car door would open if the button was up, but what about when it was down?
Photo by RyKing Uploads on Unsplash
Photo by RyKing Uploads on Unsplash
Like a scientist in a methodical attempt to explore her hypothesis, she pulled the car door handle open. At 80 miles-per-hour the car flung the door wide open and created a vacuum that sucked Lynnie out of the blue Bel Air.
As Lynnie's face was but four inches away from the yellow dashes flashing before her eyes, Grandpa caught her by the back of her shirt. It's been 57 years since Mom was traumatized by that experience. To this day, she refuses to drive and she still gets extremely anxious in cars.
And so, Mom walks. Everywhere. All the time. When you're the wife of a fireman with a car phobia and five kids to raise, how else do you get around? But that was Chicago—a major city outfitted with a robust public transit system and sidewalks galore—whereas this is Idaho.

Let's be real: the local sidewalk situation is scarce at best.

Mom's first visit to Idaho was a mixed bag of excitement, intrigue, and disappointment. How could someone like her who doesn't drive build a life out here? Without constantly relying on someone to get her around—something she'd never do—she couldn't.

Any Idaho pedestrian who's braved the distance from Star to Eagle understands what I'm talking about. One moment, you're strolling down a perfectly paved sidewalk alongside U.S. 44 when all of a sudden it ends. It literally ceases to exist and you're left bewildered by the Houdini it just pulled.

It isn't until the moment's passed you by that you realize you're up a street without a sidewalk or a crosswalk. East bound from 44 and Highway 16 to 44 and Linder you're on a soft shoulder with flying gravel and potholes underfoot. It's a dangerous and irritating situation for someone who doesn't drive. That's just one example of the hundreds I could list.

Mom's Issues Are Idaho's Issues

Mom's issues aren't unique to her situation. Her resistance to relocating to Idaho sheds light on several overlooked groups. These are a handful of citizens who struggle with Idaho's fractured sidewalk system:

  • Seniors who can no longer drive.
  • Adults who do not/cannot drive.
  • People who are differently-abled.
  • Pre-teens who cannot drive.
  • Teens who cannot afford a car.
  • People who just enjoy walking.
  • Walkers pushing baby strollers.
  • Walkers with children in tow.
  • People carrying groceries/pulling a cart.
  • Runners and bicyclists.

Everyone deserves a safe, unencumbered way to get around Idaho's Treasure Valley. Today there are several folks from the list above who feel isolated and confined to their immediate community. Imagine how upsetting it must be to feel trapped. Now imagine the insufferable indignation that comes along with having to constantly asking for help.

With the Valley expanding as quickly as it is, I hope for every pedestrian's sake that our sidewalks and public transit follow suit. Until then, look out for the pedestrians who share the road with us.

One more thing...Mom and Grandpa Doug, I love you.

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