I’m glad we will walk the walk on Carson Street
Soon after I moved to Carson City 26 years ago I took my toddler son to story hour at the library and afterwards I decided to take him in his stroller for a walk down Roop Street.
It was awful. There were no sidewalks. If I walked in the traffic lanes I got dirty looks from the drivers who had to pull out of their lane to pass me: “What’s that lady doing walking with her kid in the street — does she want to get him killed?”
I tried walking on the dirt shoulder, but the stroller wheels didn’t work in the dirt so I turned around after a block, wondering what kind of uncivilized town I had moved to that didn’t even have sidewalks on the streets leading to its library.
Several years later I had a temporary neighbor, a woman from England who was in Carson City with her family while her husband worked on a one-year contract with a local firm. I caught up with her one day when she was walking down Mountain Street with a baby in a stroller and a kindergartner by her side. As we chatted on our way home she told me she couldn’t wait to leave Carson City and get back to somewhere where she didn’t feel like an alien for simply trying to walk with her children rather than driving everywhere.
Fortunately things have improved since then due to the diligent efforts of some farsighted City leaders and managers, as well as to citizen groups like Muscle Powered and advocates for the elderly and disabled. It’s now possible to walk or ride in Carson City — at least in some places — without feeling like a second-class citizen because you’re not in a car. And it will get even better when downtown Carson City is made more friendly and welcoming for walking and bicycling with the proposed Refresh Carson City improvements.
I can’t understand why some people are so opposed to allowing more room for people and less room for cars in our city’s downtown. A downtown should be a town’s living room — a place where the public life of a town takes place. It’s not a place for people to get through as quickly as they can on their way to somewhere else.
Other towns recognize this. Even tiny Bridgeport, on Highway 395 about 100 miles south of us, removed two lanes from its downtown two years ago, and the place looks great. It was full of tourists when I passed through on a sunny day last summer. A thriving downtown is the face of a city, and the Refresh Carson City improvements will help restore a downtown we can be proud of. If Bridgeport can do it, we can too.
Anne Macquarie blogs about clean energy and climate change in Nevada at nevadanscleanenergy.org.