Moving Matters Sparks Community Conversation

Click For An Exerpt of Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting - December 3, 2013Moving Matters has been out in the community, gathering your stories about walking and biking in Cook County and on the Grand Portage Reservation. That is what this project is all about: creating a community conversation about making our roads and streets safer and more accessible. Some lively conversation has recently started that is providing us with the opportunity to delve into what this project is really about. We have shared below our Letter to the Editor of the Cook County News-Herald.

We’ve been meeting with people from the West End to Grand Portage and points in between.  Here are some of the themes that are emerging as common concerns:

  • The Gitchi Gami trail is widely used in all seasons for walking, biking, skiing, and other human-powered activity. Completion of this trail through the County will be a huge benefit to people being physically active.
  • Parents of young children are looking for safe connections to playgrounds, schools, library, after school activities, and other common destinations.
  • More people are biking throughout the County, which brings concerns about cyclist and motorist safety, pedestrians and bicyclists sharing trails, maps of trails and routes, and bicycle laws.
  • Highway 61 crossing safety is a huge concern throughout the County. In particular, speed enforcement of vehicles and trailer trucks in areas where it is popular for people to walk and bike.
  • Seniors are concerned about safe crossings of streets and highways, as well as snow removal and handicapped parking that is accessible to destinations and sidewalks.

Have you added your voice to the conversation? Share your story and experiences to help this project reflect the uniqueness of who we are in Cook County. Today, you can:

  • Take the Moving Matters Community Survey – help us hit 200 responses!
  • Share on Facebook your experiences of walking and biking as well as ideas of what could be better
  • Be in our community video –  tell your story…about your child’s walk to school, your trips on Arrowhead Transit, your favorite place to bike, and more!

Letter to the Editor, December 14th edition, Cook County News-Herald:

Several residents have contacted the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic with concerns over last week’s article, “County Board withdraws support for ‘Complete Streets’ workshop,” and what this means for the future of the Moving Matters project.  The fact is our efforts to promote and support safe and accessible streets throughout the County and Grand Portage Reservation are alive and well!

We acknowledge that some County Commissioners had concerns about the organization that would facilitate and fund the workshop. Had we been made aware of these concerns when it was first brought to the County Board, we would have pursued other options. Despite their concerns, we applaud the Commissioners, including Commissioner Gamble, who have repeatedly stated their support for active living and safe walking and biking within Cook County.  We also share the Commissioners’ concerns that it is important to plan for the future, prioritize the needs of the taxpayers and face our local financial realities. In fact, these concerns are central to the work of Moving Matters.

Moving Matters is a home-grown, county-wide project of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and many local partners. The project strives to create safe and accessible walking and biking routes for people of all ages and abilities.  Street and road design, as well as other local policies, can have a dramatic impact on whether people feel it is safe and inviting to be active in our communities. When communities create spaces that are safe and inviting to be active, more people are active. This active lifestyle, in turn, brings with it long-term health benefits that are good for individuals and the community.

Moving Matters will continue to work with the community to create conversations about how we can re-prioritize safety and accessibility for all people—especially children and seniors—whether we walk, bike, or drive on our public roadways. Share your experiences and ideas at to help us create safer streets, a healthier community and a place where we all want to live, work and play.

Kristin DeArruda Wharton, RN; Moving Matters Project Coordinator
Rita Plourde, CEO
Sawtooth Mountain Clinic


Winter Walking and Snow Removal

During our fall count of pedestrians and bicyclists with Mr. Liechty’s class, the trail by the Grand Marais Post Office was a busy thoroughfare. 49 bikers and walkers used this route over the noontime.

And on a snowy day…pedestrians are still making their way on by. Luckily, he knows there is still a trail there, hidden beneath the snow.

Kid walking on snowpack by PO

People are making their way along, even with large obstacles like snow piles in their way.

Snow by PO with arrows

Does the snow discourage you from walking to the Post Office or IGA?

And while this guy had some big piles to navigate, there were places farther along that were cleared of snow, ready for pedestrians.

Snow clearning Arrowhead Pharmacy Snow Clearing School Snow clearing 2nd St