Episode 31 – CO-OP Garden Kelly Watters

Today is May 13–, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”. This week we discuss a 4 decade old food Co-operative and take a look at Tucson 4 decades from now

Our focus each and every Sunday . is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on DowntownRadio.org- we’re also available on your iPhone or Android with the Tune in App.

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We start today with news for 2 wheel commuters.

he third Friday in May is designated as national bike to work day. The concept started in in 1955 by the League of American Bicyclists and has grown into an event supported by many organizations promoting health, urban density, traffic reduction and long term environmental sustainability.

The number of commuters has grown steadily and according to one study is up 45% since 2000. There are health benefits from the exercise and actually has it’s own spot in the American Medical Association policies. H-470.991 of the AMA states they support National Bike to Work Day and encourages active transportation whenever possible.

We are seeing environmental groups supporting a human powered commute to reduce the congestion and other byproducts of auto transportation.

For me, I see Bike to Work day as a way of testing the infrastructure. Are we truly healthier riding to work if the risk of accident and injury from vehicle collisions is still a major concern? We did a feature a few weeks back with Gil Penalosa, an urban planner with a heavy influence on cycling as a mode of transportation. I remember hearing him speak when someone brought up our new bike share program and his response was not what I was expecting. He didn’t congratulate Tucson for having bike share, instead he focused on the need to build infrastructure. Bike share, according to Penalosa, isn’t effective if the streets aren’t safe. He alluded to concerns that Tucson may presently be in that unsafe category.

In the downtown area, there are 2 dedicated and protected bike lanes. One is on Stone near the new Pima County facility and the other is the recently completed improvement project from Broadway from Aviation Parkway to Fourth Avenue downtown. This provides a concrete buffer between traffic and bicycles that extends through a highly congested intersection. The project also included better signage to prepare motorist for being in the correct lane before they get into the congestion.

Bike to work day is a chance of Tucsonans to explore the existing infrastructure and make determinations about the condition of our commuter model.

Today, natural and organic foods are ubiquitous, but in the 1960’s they were scarce and mostly for the wealthy. A group of Tucsonans devised a way to bring the healthier products to our community and keep them affordable.

What started as that economically and socially driven buyers’ club, morphed into the Food Conspiracy Co-op on 4th Avenue. They maintain the same location today as they did 40 years ago, but have grown their impact substantially.

We sat down with Kelly Watters the education and outreach coordinator for the Co Op. She shared history, culture, and insight about this unique community oriented business.