Nacogdoches bikers, walkers fear sidewalks could go away

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Sidewalks are nice when you need them and missed when not available. The rest of the time they're not given much thought.

"When you think of transportation needs for a city a lot of people just think of the streets and the bridges," said Nacogdoches City Planner Larissa Philpot.

Many East Texas communities have enhanced sidewalk programs through Department of Transportation grants. It's the agency which made all those curb cuts and helped coin the phrase, the sidewalks to nowhere.

"What I tell people is it's not necessarily a sidewalk to nowhere, it's a portion of a sidewalk that we won't have to build in the future," Philpot said.

But funding is diminishing. Soon it could go away completely. There's pressure to cut bicycling and walking out of transportation.

"A lot of bicycle and pedestrian organizations like this Safe Route to Schools partnership, they're working on," said Kinnie Douglas of Healthy Nacogdoches.

"If the funding is cut it would diminish the fitness craze that's currently going on," said George Patterson, a bicyclist.

Legislators must consider all factors, such as those walks to and from school just aren't happening.

"Since the 60s we've seen it decrease from about 50 percent of the kids would walk to school and now it's about 15 percent," Douglas said.

Nevertheless, Nacogdoches was aggressive in obtaining a Safe Route to School grant to serve Emeline Carpenter Elementary.

"It's part of the Safe Route to School Program, but it is fully funded and the project should be completed as designed," Philpot said.

There's still a chance to save federal bicycling and walking funding for future projects, but time is running out to introduce changes.

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