April 24, 2013 - Mixed messages give me a headache.
On the one hand, we've got all these folks telling us our nation is just too darn fat and we need to incorporate more physical activity into our daily routines so we don't lose a foot to Type 2 Diabetes.
We're constantly encouraged to wear pedometers and count our steps, ride bicycles on local nature trails or use parking spaces further away from store entrances so we'll walk a bit more.
At school, they tell kids how important it is for them to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
On the other hand, we've got people telling us there need to be more convenient ways for pedestrians to cross M-24 in downtown Oxford, so people aren't forced to use the town's only two traffic signals at Burdick and Broadway streets.
In other words, we need to make things easier for people who are too lazy or too careless to walk over to the nearest traffic light and use the designated crosswalk.
God forbid people go out of their way a little bit and walk an extra block or two. That extra physical activity might make them too weak to open their wallets and purses at our shops and restaurants.
Does anyone else see the irony here?
I guess we're willing to compromise on the whole health/obesity epidemic thing if it conflicts with commerce. It's more important to lose that extra weight in your wallet than on your tummy.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against calming M-24's traffic or improving the downtown's walkability, but I don't believe walkability is synonymous with laziness.
I have an idea. Why doesn't the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) view the extra block or two folks have to walk in order to cross at a light as a positive?
That's our favorite hobby in Oxford isn't it? Turning everything into a positive, whether it's true or not.
Well, isn't it better to have folks stroll past all the various shops and restaurants on both sides of the street on their way to and from the signalized crosswalks than cater to their tunnel vision as they cross M-24 wherever the heck they want to get from Point A to Point B in the quickest, easiest manner?
Maybe the extra walking will cause people to notice something at a business and that could lead to a sale.
Or what if the DDA used the extra walking pedestrians have to do as a selling point?
'Downtown Oxford – Healthy Living. Done Right.'
How about 'Downtown Oxford – Burning Calories. Done Right.' Or 'Downtown Oxford – Exercise. Done Right.'
There I just gave you three great slogans and nobody had to pay me thousands of tax dollars to do it.
Speaking of walking, I loved how Linda Davis-Kirksey, who was hired to provide the grant writing services for the downtown's streetscape project, admitted to jaywalking while speaking at the April 9 village council meeting.
She attended a downtown event and, by her own admission, decided to "cut across the street, not at the light."
"I about took my life into my hands," Davis-Kirksey told council. "I got beeped at. Things were awful. I'm thinking, 'Boy, this is not cool.'"
Stop the presses! Someone had a bad experience with traffic while illegally crossing a busy state highway!
My question is what did she think was going to happen when she stepped onto M-24 with no traffic light or crosswalk? Were the cars just supposed to part like the Red Sea before Moses so she could casually cross?
Instead of complaining and blaming the current layout of the downtown, Davis-Kirksey should be grateful she didn't get hit by a car or ticketed by a cop – either of which would have been her own fault.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.