Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Greener pastures

Posted on Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Most issues of the Independent carry one or more ads encouraging residents to reduce the number of cars driven each day through use of public transportation or some other alternative. That the University of Montana administration needs to modify its current mindset along these lines is evident by how they honored Dr. Steve Running, our resident Nobel Laureate. It is incredibly ironic that the university recognized Running for his contributions in raising global awareness of the increasing ecological dangers of carbon emissions by providing him with his own personal parking space. [Editor's note: Running also received a covered bike rack from the student government, and he reportedly uses it more often than the parking space.]

Making driving to the university convenient and easy is not a great idea, even for our Nobel Laureate. Perhaps the administration of the university could honor Running through a bold and path-breaking gesture.

My suggestion is this: Don't replace the remaining green space on campus with new buildings. Instead, construct new buildings on the parking garages and lots. Reducing available parking on campus gives students, faculty and staff greater incentive to reach campus by some means other than driving their own cars and trucks. The city could do its part by expanding the current parking buffer around campus to at least a mile, where day-time parking is allowed only by neighborhood residents or persons with an appropriate permit. More individuals would opt to use public transportation to get to and from campus, thereby making it profitable for Mountain Line to increase its bus service throughout town (more busses and routes), and maybe light rail could someday become a reality for the Bitterroot Valley.

Paul Hendricks

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