Well, it's an opinion, which is just fine. I don't usually like to criticize other people's opinions, to which they have every right. But this one was published by a newspaper that claims to represent our city, for a readership of thousands. These readers should know that there's another side to the story, right here in Calgary.
At the time of writing, it looks like there are already quite a few Calgarians getting their dander up about this closed-minded piece. But I can't resist adding my two cents, a little bit of ink of paper, and a firm belief in the possibility of a walkable city:
...it’s much easier just to acknowledge, as Ald. Shane Keating* did, that “We can’t have a society where everyone walks to the grocery store.”
No, we can’t. The reason is that, unless you live right around the corner from it, walking to the grocery store, getting a few items and walking home again takes about three hours. As compared to maybe 20 minutes by car.
If you walk, you can bring home two, maybe three bags at the most.
Walkability severely limits your grocery list. No milk cartons (too heavy), glass jars (ditto) or a lot of cans (more ditto). No ice cream or other frozen food in warm weather.
You can trundle your groceries home in one of those lightweight wheeled carts, but you’re still limited by weight, volume, weather considerations, and the level of industriousness with which the people who live along your route home have shovelled and de-iced their sidewalks.
I know I've referred to this comic strip story in a few other places, but just in case anyone would like more details about my weekly Lakritz-defying walk, here's the map of my neighbourhood walk in Ramsay (also published in the Calgary Herald back in December 2011).
One more note about Ms. Lakritz's comments. It's true that walking leaves you at the mercy of your friendly neighbourhood sidewalk shovellers. To respond that that conundrum, here's a chicken-or-the-egg scenario to keep you up tonight:
Walking to the market every week helped me to get to know my neighbours better, which put us all on friendly terms, which motivated us all to keep our walks shovelled, which helped me to walk to the market!
(Actually, the problem was never the neighbours: if there was a problem, it was the City, which built a great, brand-new, walkable sidewalk that abruptly and frustratingly ends at the corner of 26th Avenue & Dartmouth Road SE. But I digress.)
But think about this... the fact that the market was THERE, 800 metres from my door, gave me a destination, a place to do my shopping, a place to make friends, a place to take my toddler that came complete with indoor bathrooms. (Actually, I've also drawn a comic strip about that evolving relationship with the Crossroads Market.) The point is that I am lucky to live in a neighbourhood in which this option is available.
Yes, I still head to Superstore about once a month to buy a big package of toilet paper and a few other things that fit in my trunk. But if more neighbourhoods were premised on "walkability", I'm guessing we'd see more positive changes than just a higher rank on the Walk Score.