On June 1, the Ketchum City Council unanimously approved Mayor Bradshaw’s recommendation to close Fourth Street to cars between Walnut and Leadville avenues and open it up to pedestrian traffic and open-air dining. What an exciting step forward and a terrific example for Hailey to emulate!

As with many aspects of life, the pandemic has called on us to rethink how we go about living. It has asked us to adopt creative solutions quickly. A car-free corridor, sometimes known as “open streets” or “complete streets,” is one of those solutions. 

Progressive thinkers and practitioners in the world of transportation have long understood the multifaceted benefits of open streets. We all recognize that Hailey would not be the place we love without the bike path, bike lanes, numerous parks, street art and more. It’s now time to add to that high-quality space and create and designate some open streets in Hailey. Economists, environmentalists, children and others acknowledge the benefits of taking this next step. 

When streets are built for people to walk and bike through or to sit and enjoy the atmosphere, local businesses thrive, the city becomes a more desirable place to live, car traffic and congestion decreases, multi-modal travel behavior increases and the air becomes cleaner. 

As the Wood River Valley reopens, I urge Hailey to follow the lead of Ketchum and embrace the open streets trend. Creating more outdoor spaces that mix the economic activity of city businesses with the great outdoors is crucial. Doing so is one step toward building a new and healthier reality—healthier for our climate, healthier for our people and healthier for our economy.

Let’s seize this opportunity!

Scott Runkel, Hailey

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