Caroline Shugart column mug

I consider myself a “glass half full” kind of person. I tend to be upbeat and positive about things around me. My laugh is hearty and full, I smile a lot and I like to be mindful. I make sure I walk by my favorite flower beds, rejoice in the crows and magpies that sing in the mornings and have been known to tell a few jokes to brighten someone’s day. With that said, I do find myself irritated at times and I may even blurt out my frustrations. With the summer in full swing, I’ve noticed a few things that attract my attention.

No. 1: Parents who require their children to wear a bike helmet, but don’t wear one themselves. There’s no law in Utah — that I know of — requiring children to wear a helmet. So why do these parents make kiddo wear one? I assume it relates to real or perceived safety and that the odds of receiving a traumatic brain injury are reduced when an appropriate safety helmet is worn. Then why isn’t the parent wearing one? Is the parent’s brain somehow more resistant to injury after colliding with a car, or tumbling after hitting a pothole? Does a traumatic brain injury increase or decrease a parent’s ability to care for their children? And what does kiddo think? “Gosh, when I grow up, I get to ride without a helmet!” Is this the lesson a parent should be teaching? Shouldn’t we all lead by example?

No. 2: Idling your car while waiting for someone. Look, I know it has been hot! Air conditioning in your car or truck is a wonderful technology that keeps driving comfortable and our tempers in check. But to use a two-ton vehicle as your personal air conditioner — or heater in the winter — is wasteful. Do you have to wait? Then take the short walk from the parking lot to wherever your kiddo, significant other, or friend is and smell the roses along the way. I do understand the inconvenience for parents with children in car seats and vehicles with animals, but idling is bad news for air quality, which makes us all suffer. Park and walk as much as possible. In addition to contributing to your 10,000 steps per day, you’ll learn where all the shaded parking spots are hiding. But please don’t leave your children or pets in the car!

No. 3: Fast food franchises and soda companies sponsoring racing events. People generally participate in running and cycling events for health and wellness. Often, a T-shirt is given to registrants to wear either during the event or afterwards — deserved bragging rights. Why, in an obesogenic society, with the known relationships between weight and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancers, would race organizers put fast food and sugary soda logos on a shirt for an activity promoting health? I know, one only has to follow the money to find the answer to this question, but it’s very disappointing for me to see this ubiquitous and insidious partnership. I make it a rule never to wear clothing that advertises products I recognize as contributing to obesity.

No. 4: Gravel and debris in bike lanes. I love that Logan was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community. I’m proud of the city’s efforts for promoting cycling: bike lanes, signage, convenient bike parking and pro-cycling policies. But if you bike, you can’t help but notice the gravel and debris often found in the bike lanes. Vehicles and lawn mowers seem to spew rocks, vegetation, and trash onto these bike lanes, making them less desirable riding areas than the streets themselves. It’s worse when there is construction nearby — and there seems to be a lot of construction. Drivers, please don’t judge cyclists when they are riding in the street (legally) instead of the bike lane. It may be the safest place to ride.

No. 5: Poo on the trail. There is discussion in Logan about developing a policy allowing dogs to play in the city’s parks — currently prohibited in most parks. Where dogs are allowed — Harris Nature Park, Rendezvous Park, on the sidewalk through Sumac and River Hollow Parks, on the walkway loop in Stewart Nature Park, on the walkways in Hyrum Gibbons Mt. Logan Park and on all trails — the city requires dog owners to clean up “any and all dog feces left by their dogs.” So why is it that I often see dog poo during my walks? This doesn’t bode well for allowing dogs on the manicured lawns of our maintained parks. And please don’t bag up the poo and then leave it on the trail because that’s icky as well. Bag it up, carry it with you, and dispose of it. I want urban trails to be inviting, and tidy paths are an important part of this equation.

Whew! Rereading this list makes me look like a “glass half empty” person. But I’m not. I just want people active, healthy, and safe. I want obstacles removed that interfere with an active lifestyle. I don’t lose sleep over any of these issues, but they are all part of my fine-tuned awareness of barriers to healthy living. Be safe, keep moving, eat right, and pick up the poo. If we all do a little here and there, our community becomes even a better place to work and play. Be Well!

Caroline Shugart is a nurse, dietitian, and personal trainer. She can be reached at caroline.shugart@gmail.com.

Caroline Shugart is a nurse, dietitian, and personal trainer. She can be reached at caroline.shugart@gmail.com.