Dear Mr. Mayor:
I have been a resident of the City of Murfreesboro for 11 months. I came from the West hoping to find a city with magnificent natural landscape comprised of individuals who were interested in the lives of people outside their own four walls. Clean air and true Southern hospitality were concepts I had heard of and hoped I would find them to be true. I can honestly say that I have not been disappointed. The people of Murfreesboro have shown themselves to be a community who collectively and individually work to help meet the needs of others and the natural landscape is more striking than I had imagined it would be. Murfreesboro is a beautiful, clean city and I am enjoying my life here.
With that said, I do have one very grave concern. Throughout the school year as I drove my teenage daughter to school, a PSA sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield would air imploring Tennessee residents to get up and get walking, to take the stairs instead of the elevator, to go outside and play with the kids – all in an effort for healthier living to offset the rampant increase in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease Tennessee residents are experiencing. My question to you, Mr. Mayor, is how are people going to get up and get moving when the vast majority of the city has no bike lanes, no sidewalks and no crosswalks? Unless someone has the time or the ability to get to the greenway, pedestrians must compete with traffic in the roadways. With the statement “Creating a Better Quality of Life” written on city vehicles, I am wondering exactly in what ways the quality of life is being improved for Murfreesboro residents when the most basic element of urban development is non-existent.
I have on many occasions traversed the hazards of walking along Church Street in order to get some exercise when time would not allow me the extra minutes to drive to the greenway. One particular day, a co-worker saw me and discouraged me from such a practice out of her concern for my well-being. This raises the question: How many children have asked Mom to go ride their bikes or walk to the neighborhood park only to hear Mom say “no” out of fear for their safety because there was no place for them to walk other than in the road?
It appears that the PSA was not really meant to make an impact on people’s lives; rather, just a politically correct ad that sounds nice. How seriously are residents going to receive this public service announcement when the city’s priorities do not align with the message?
A better quality of life begins with residents having knowledge and then accessibility to live out that knowledge. Mr. Mayor, I implore you to stand behind this well-intended PSA encouraging an active lifestyle and to stand behind the tag line stamped on your city vehicles. Recognize that sidewalks are just as fundamental as city parks, recreational programs, and other city infrastructure and provide residents accessibility to safely walk and bike in their neighborhoods.