I understand the bypass is not traffic-free or worry-free for a pedestrian. Not exactly super safe. But with plenty of shoulder on the road, I decided to try it on the Fourth of July.
I called a friend and asked her to walk with me over the bypass and back again. After she questioned my sanity, she thought it over and agreed.
That morning, we drove from Golden Springs up and over to the other end of the bypass and parked in a safe , out-of-the-way area. Then we took off on foot, walking up the long hill. We crested the hill, then ran down the other side to the intersection at the bottom, where we could safely cross over. We repeated the walk back up the hill to the crest, and ran back down to the car.
The whole route was about 3.8 miles. Quite a few people looked at us like we were insane, and one even stopped to offer us a ride. I guess it is a foreign concept to actually see someone walking up that massive hill on purpose. I don’t understand why. The view is stunning, and it felt pretty safe. It was a great, heart-pumping workout.
The parkway is a great example of why we should add bike paths or running /walking paths with any new roads in our area. Why not add safe pedestrian or bike paths to existing roads? We obviously have an interest in healthy living in Calhoun County, with the explosion of the Anniston Runners Club, Northeast Alabama Bike Association, Coldwater Mountain Bike Trails, Ladiga Trail and more.
We have a chance to keep the momentum moving by doing a little forward thinking on how we can enhance safety for all the health-minded people in the area.
With local elections coming up, it is a great time for candidates to focus on what is so great about our area. Two things that stand out are the people and the great outdoor opportunities we have living in such a beautiful, hilly part of Alabama. We need to take every chance we get to enhance these positive aspects of our community, and to make it safe to ride a bike to work or run on the streets.
How about adopting a policy to make our runners, walkers and bikers feel safer? How about giving these pedestrians and bikers five feet for safety? Educating drivers is a key part of this. As you drive by someone – whether they are walking, running or biking – move over if you can. Give the biker or pedestrian five feet of clearance.
When we walked and ran the bypass, only a couple of people even thought about moving over for us. Most people just flew by in the lane right next to where we were walking, even though they easily could have changed lanes.
I can envision other runners or cyclists enjoying the challenge of that hill and the natural beauty of this area. Wouldn’t it be great for Calhoun County to be known as the outdoor fitness mecca of Alabama? Are our officials and candidates listening? We are well on our way. Keep the momentum.
Ann Angell is program center manager at the Oxford Y for Now.