Readers — Here’s an INSPIRING story about what we can do when life hands us paranoid neighbors, officious cops and maybe a lemon, for good measure. Let’s hear it for Lori LeVar Pierce, the small town mom and teacher we first heard from in 2009 when she let her son walk to soccer and a local police officer slammed her for negligence. Here’s the original piece. And here’s her local paper’s editorial piling on, reminding her that “things are different now,” the days of “Mayberry…are gone,” and rare but terrible things could have happened to her son in the one third of a mile walk in this quiet Mississippi town.
Well you know what happened next? She didn’t crumble. She didn’t lay down and die. She decided it was time to make Mayberry come true. If her town wasn’t safe for walking, why then, she’d get it sidewalks, and stop signs, and everything you need to make a town walkable — enticingly so. And she got started even before this study came out, saying: “Want a slimmer, healthier community? Try building more sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths.”
One year after the cop berated her for letting her son walk, here is Lori’s story!
MAKING MAYBERRY by Lori LeVar Pierce
Some of you may remember my story. Last year I let my then 10-year-old son walk to soccer practice from our home, a distance of less than a mile in a residential neighborhood. He was picked up by the cops after 911 calls about him. As a result of that experience, as a family we made an even more concerted effort be outside walking or biking and discovered just how unfriendly our city is to safe biking and walking.
So I educated myself on what could be done and connected with local individuals who wanted the same things and others who had made changes in their communities. Earlier this summer I contacted my representative on the city council to propose a “Complete Streets” ordinance. This is an ordinance requiring that any new developments or major street repair also include features for safe biking and walking, such as bike lanes or striping, sidewalks, good curbs, etc. I was able to provide him with examples of similar ordinances passed in other municipalities and encouraged him to make it happen in our city.
I am pleased to report that the city council my hometown of Columbus, Mississippi just passed its “Complete Streets” ordinance this week. There is a major development going in just a few blocks from my home that will include sidewalks and a pedestrian bridge. I’m so excited for progress!
Me too! Light the way, Lori!
P.S. Look! Lori just sent in this very positive story from yesterday’s paper about the Complete Streets initiative.