Human powered

Columbia, MO – Rocheport, MO 12.4 miles

Now I will be the first to admit that walking as a means of transportation is overrated. And biking is only marginally better. But there is a time and place for human-powered means of transportation. Within towns and cities, both walking and biking are great ways to reduce vehicular congestion and pollution, get some exercise and meet your neighbors.

In recent years, Columbia has experienced a substantial shift towards human-powered transportation in large part thanks to former Mayor Darwin Hindman. According to an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune, during his time in office, the city secured more than $22 million in federal grants to make the city more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. He was also a major supporter of the creation of the cross-state Katy Trail State Park, which I walked from Columbia to Rocheport.

The city also has an annual Bike, Walk and Wheel week sponsored by PedNet, which advocates for better facilities for walking, biking, and wheeling, and works to help people shift to non-motorized transportation. Certainly large parts of Columbia are easily navigated by foot and though I cannot speak for getting around town on bike, I don’t doubt that the city is bike friendly.

Unfortunately, as I walked along the Katy trail from Columbia to Rocheport today I realized what a luxury it can be to be free from motorized transportation. As nice as it can be to walk or bike, cars are faster and we live in a society where time is money. It is not easy to justify spending an hour to walk three miles to work or run errands when it would take perhaps 10 minutes by car. But that doesn’t mean we cannot sometimes decide to leave the car behind and enjoy life at a slower pace.

By Jennifer E. Cooper