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Our View: Requiring sidewalks is good public policy

Sidewalks won this week. So did public health and our sense of community.

We congratulate the Cloquet City Council on its unanimous vote in favor of sidewalks — and for following the city’s own rules requiring sidewalks in new subdivisions.

Unfortunately, the council hasn’t always voted for sidewalks, something the Cloquet Planning Commission pointed out when its members suggested the council had set a precedent by not requiring sidewalks for some recent projects.

It was a reasonable suggestion, but we are thrilled the council threw that argument out decisively.

Sidewalks help everyone, from the child riding a bike on training wheels to kids going to school, residents of all ages walking for exercise, and those who live in town and walk out of necessity.

Sidewalks even help drivers, who don’t have to share the road with pedestrians when they’re presented with a safer alternative.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touts the many health benefits of walking, pointing out that it is an individual decision but one made easier by improving and connecting routes and destinations within communities. Sidewalks or walking and bicycle lanes make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to walk, bike, run — or roll — in wheelchairs, on skates and the like.

And physical health is not the only benefit: the CDC tells us that “making walking easier can also help communities by improving safety, increasing interaction between residents, improving local economies, and reducing air pollution.”

So thank your councilors for voting in favor of a more connected future.

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