EDITORIAL: Laurels & Lances: Bikes, bridges and slides

·2 min read

Jun. 18—Laurel: To pedaling forward. There may be no more quintessential expression of the freedom of summer vacation than a kid on a bike. It's exercise. It's fun. It's the ability to be and grow and do on their own. But for some kids, a bike is out of reach.

On Wednesday, about 60 volunteers came together at Mammoth Park in Mt. Pleasant Township as part of the United Way's build-a-bike event. They assembled 100 bikes in two hours.

"Sometimes, kids don't have the opportunity to have their own bike that their family can purchase for them, so we're just excited to be able to provide these," said Alyssa Cholodofsky, Westmoreland region director of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. "I'm sure we'll be making a lot of kids smile."

All together, 300 bikes will be assembled, with additional events in Butler and Allegheny counties, giving kids throughout the region a chance to build their bodies, independence and great memories.

Lance: To a real obstruction. No one was trying to make life harder for people in the Alle-Kiski Valley by closing the Tarentum Bridge. The purpose of the $3.4 million rehabilitation project is actually to improve things. But construction projects, no matter how well intended, are always a pain at the time.

The problem with the Tarentum project is that it is doing more than just increasing walkway traffic over the bridge — an unintended side effect that might be exhausting but could help some people increase their cardio as they get more steps in.

But delayed ambulance traffic is a different story. Addie Birch, emergency medical services director with the New Kensington Bureau of Fire-Ambulance, said detours and traffic can mean 40-minute or longer delays in getting patients from the New Kensington side of the bridge to Allegheny Valley Hospital.

That's a consequence that could cost a life. PennDOT says the closure is expected to continue through June 27. Let's hope no one dies of congested traffic.

Laurel: To slip sliding away. The 2020 opening of the new slides at Mammoth Park after a $1.1 million renovation was short-lived because of concerns about possible injuries. The single 97-foot-long slide was replaced with a complex of two 100-foot stainless steel slides and a smaller 50-foot slide for little kids.

But in 2021, the slides have reopened. Again. This time, there are an extra $30,000 in improvements meant to minimize any injuries — despite engineering inspections that said the slides already were safe.

There also are rules for keeping them that way. Leave the wax paper at home, please. The slides are fast enough.

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