Antonio Marxuach: The time is now

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— On Jan. 1 as I sat eating lunch at my favorite local eatery along the Yampa while reading Mike McCollum's Steamboat Today article "Keeping county air clean," I found myself wondering how serious the city and county are about Yampa Valley air quality. Then, I seemed to have my answer.

In the span of time it takes to consume a modest lunch, I witnessed no less than three cars parked within my view; all unoccupied, all idling.

In light of the article's attempts to raise awareness of the clean air issue, I took note of the amount of time these drivers left their polluting cars running. The shortest was eight minutes. A car left running more than one or two minutes spews significantly more CO2 and uses more gasoline than restarting the engine, and diesel exhaust adds particulate toxins that interfere with the lungs' ability to transport oxygen.

I wish I could report these careless drivers were an anomaly, but sadly, it's quite the contrary. If I could pedal my roughly one-mile daily commute without seeing at least one idling vehicle, then that would be an anomaly - summer or winter. Yet I see no effort on behalf of either the city or county to regulate tailpipe emissions in this valley (where, incidentally, mitigating air quality becomes even more challenging).

Then, in our community leaders' insistence on 1950s solutions to 21st-century challenges, I read about sprawling housing developments, which irrefutable evidence shows worsen traffic congestion, and spending taxpayer money on frivolous things like sidewalks instead of bike paths (useful to both cyclists and pedestrians).

Maintained for cross-country skiing, a bike path network would provide a solution for many in-town residents for winter commuting. I've lost count of the number of people who have told me they are too scared to commute by bicycle in the winter but would be thrilled to ski around Ski Town USA. To run a snowplow over the Core Trail just for me and the other nine or so hardcore, crazy winter-bike commuters seems illogical, especially considering most of us would willingly trade the bike for skis - a more fitting tool for winter transport. The result for valley residents would be less traffic congestion on our limited roadways, healthier citizens and cleaner air.

OK, I'll admit to being more acutely aware of my cardio-respiratory system than most folks, but I think we can all agree we'd prefer our lungs remain capable of transporting oxygen to the alternative. If you're still skeptical, then I suggest you go find someone dying from emphysema and ask them if they have any regrets.

The time is now Steamboat, before all we're left with are regrets.

Antonio Marxuach

Steamboat Springs

Comments

another_local 6 years, 11 months ago

I cerrtainly agree about the core trail. I would much rather see the nordic groomer there than a plow. What a nice thing that would be; a nordic trail through town that could be used to commute.

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handyman 6 years, 11 months ago

I moved to Steamboat 15 months ago. I've had problems with my sinuses on and off for years, but it's been constant since I moved here. I lived in a rural mountain community for one year and rarely had any problems. There wasn't much vehicle pollution there and they got some wind. Here, I look at the main drags in town and see a huge number of vehicles, big trucks to smaller vehicles, spewing clouds of exhaust. It's pretty obvious that they need some maintenance. It can be really scary to see what some of the big trucks pump out of their exhaust pipes. I think that we all would like to see an improvement in the air quality here.

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Elizabeth Rawlings 6 years, 11 months ago

Well said, Antonio! Greg and I would also like to see the Core Trail groomed for skiing. I let the kids use their skis on the sidewalks and many people comment on what a fun way that is to get around town. I try to walk down Lincoln Ave. as little as possible because of the exhaust pollution. C'mon, Steamboat Springs, stop the brutual particulates!

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seeuski 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree, the number of diesel pickups that run like crap and spew poisenous fumes threw town is unnacceptable. Alot of these trucks have had modifications made to their on board computers i.e. chips, that richen the fuel mixture and increase performance and cause more pollution. There should be standards set for town and required biannual exhaust testing that requires these vehicles be maintained so as not to cause the big city air quality we are being forced to breath.

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zirkel 6 years, 11 months ago

Chris Wilson, are you reading this -- Grooming the core trail for nordic skiing and snowshoes use during the winter?

Thanks Antonio for (continuing to) being a thoughful advocate for alternative transportation and a healthy lifestyle -- in all seasons!

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