CEDAR CITY —Cedar City Councilman Tyler Melling has committed to only using his vehicle for transportation once a week during the month of February to draw attention to the difficulties of getting around the city without a car.
Melling told Cedar City News that while he lives within walking distance of his workplace, many Cedar City residents do not.
“While I’m fortunate enough to have a vehicle and have insurance and be able to pay for gasoline, many people in our city are not,” he said. “For either legal, medical or economic reasons, they cannot drive a vehicle. They don’t have the option that I do to drive a car. Maybe (excusing) our R1 zones, in all of our other residential zones we need to ensure that we have that reality in mind when we’re updating our general plan. It’s one thing for the market or the market conditions to prevent people from being able to access those amenities, but when we as the city planners are setting these developments up to fail from the beginning, that’s a problem.”
Melling said this is an important consideration as the city plans future zones, and many high-density residential zones are not within walking distance of necessary amenities.
“We need to be very conscious, especially in a year when we’re revisiting our master plan,” he said. “If we’re having anything other than R1 built for residential, we need to make sure that people are close to either a major area of traffic to access transit or within walking distance of some commercial zone. If they’re not even within a commercial zone, then there’s no chance they’re going to be near those essential services.”
Melling intends to document his efforts to get to work and around town on social media, and he said he chose to take on this commitment in February intentionally.
“Arguably February is the very worst month to be walking outside to get places,” Melling said. “That’s why I wanted to do it in February, is to draw attention during the worst month of the year — rain, snow icy walks — that this is the daily reality and be able to document that on social media. … I want everybody to see the daily life of someone who does not have a car as an option and how we need to keep that in mind as we’re doing our planning and zoning.”
In addition to his commitment to only using his car once a month, Melling intends to do a monthly “council walk” at which he plans to walk in a different neighborhood and invite residents to join and share their concerns.
“In my talking with a lot of different people in the community during my campaign, this common theme got brought up that there are certain areas of town that just get ignored or just not visited,” he said. “People in different areas so need to be heard, and so I’ve started these monthly council walks.”
Melling said Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams and fellow councilman Scott Phillips were able to join him for the first council walk in January.
“We got to hear (residents) out, and hear their concerns about growth and about how their neighborhood is being affected and see some of the things that maybe have fallen into disrepair over time,” he said. “It was really good and we got to reach out and talk to people who live and think differently from ourselves, which is the whole point of having representatives in government.”
He added that he hopes the time period between walks will allow some concerns to be addressed as quickly as possible.
“There were a number of things that I’ve been able to bring to staff’s attention,” Melling said. “I think a month is enough time to go ahead and kind of get some of that stuff implemented before the next one so that we ensure that there’s follow-through between them.”
The next walk will take place in the area of North Cedar Boulevard and Northfield Road and will be announced during the next city council meeting when the date has been determined.
Melling said both of these initiatives are steps to help the city plan for the future.
“Anytime we’re thinking about planning and zoning and a general plan, that’s going to have ramifications for decades into the future,” he said. “Our community is going to change some more, so we want to be sure in our general plan that we’re not inhibiting that change but that we’re creating communities that are resilient to that change, and the best way to do that is to ensure that regardless of economic status that we’re not dependent on any one piece of technology to have our day-to-day needs met.”
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