Thin White Line Step Toward Bicycle-Friendly Community

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The Town of Payson has taken the lead and residents should follow.

As the Streets Department repairs and repaves new roads, they have been adding bike lanes to the side. We now have bike lanes on Aero Drive, McLane Road and Longhorn Drive.

Painting a white line on the side of the road and filling it with a stenciled picture of a person riding a bike may not seem like much.

But that simple white line makes all the difference in the world.

It has a mental effect on both driver and cyclist. To the driver, it announces that bikes have a place on the road -- that they deserve to be there. To the cyclist, it creates a comfort zone, an invisible wall of protection. When traffic passes, the cyclist doesn't have to swerve into the gutter. Overall, it makes the cycling experience better for everyone on the road.

But those bike lanes send a message, even when there is no bike in sight. That stenciled cyclist says, to every passing driver, that this town is making an attempt to be bicycle-friendly.

Paired with the nice, wide sidewalks the Streets Department has been adding to roads like McLane and the plans the Payson Parks and Recreation Department is making for an urban trail network, residents are being slowly coaxed out of their vehicles.

These are small steps and Payson is still far from being pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly, but they are steps in the right direction.

Now that the town has taken the lead, it's our turn.

If you own a business, consider putting a bike rack in front of it. We could do the same.

If you don't live very far from work, try riding your bike, walking or carpooling once a week. If you are retired, choose one activity each week that you could walk to, instead of driving.

A century ago, people walked for miles to get to church or the store. Now, we think nothing of starting our cars to travel two or three blocks.

Consider this: Walk to work once a week. The walk will give you perspective on the day ahead. You will see things you never notice while whizzing by in your car, wondering if you'll make it through the intersection before the light changes. It will slow you down, relieve some stress and, overall, contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

We know it's easier said than done, but we also know that Payson is a small town where things are truly not that far apart. It takes 45 minutes to walk from one end to the other -- from the Mazatzal Casino to Home Depot (editor's experience).

Gas prices are going up. The United States is dependent on foreign oil. Pollution from too much driving hangs over populated areas like a blanket. It's time to consider changing the way we live.

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