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TroveStreet® Wisdom

TroveStreet® Wisdom: Improving walkability of an area

Walking not only keeps us healthy, but it is another mode of transportation. Depending on where you live and where you are going, walking may be an option to consider. 

Safety is your top priority. Wearing comfortable shoes is always best. If walking at dusk or later, make certain to wear reflective gear on your shoes or clothing and carry a flashlight. If you do walk on a road without a sidewalk, remember to always walk facing traffic so you can see cars coming and they can better see you!

If your route includes uneven sidewalks, crossing a street without a crosswalk or traffic light, unlit paths, trash-covered or leaf-covered sidewalks, or any other possible barrier that limits you, contact your municipality to see if anything can be done to address these issues.  In 2017-2018, North York Borough resident Liz Eisenhart did just that, resulting in the installation of a traffic light.  

Liz made the decision to stop driving due to a decline in vision yet knew she didn’t want it to keep her from participating in the activities she enjoyed, which included workouts at Curves.

Fortunately, a N. George Street rabbittransit bus stop was only a short walk from her home, which made taking the bus to Curves very easy. But coming home from Curves wasn’t as convenient. The bus dropped her off on the opposite side of the busy street, which meant she needed to cross N. George at 6th Avenue, which lacked both a cross-walk and traffic light. This is when Liz began advocating for improvements in walkability in her neighborhood.

She phoned the council president and learned it’s not as simple as painting a cross-walk, it also needs to be handicap accessible. 

They say timing is everything, and that’s the case with Liz’s story. As she researched this concern, she learned about several community initiatives occurring to help support the need for a safe place to cross the street.

York County Planning Commission shared the city was making plans to improve walkability from George Street to Parkway. While attending an OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) class at Penn State York, Liz heard about Healthy York County Coalition’s York County Walks and the importance of pedestrians speaking up to improve walkability. She also learned of a rabbittransit assessment to identify barriers to accessibility in the community. Using this information, Liz went to a North York Borough Council meeting and made a presentation to request a cross-walk at the N. George and 6th Avenue location. 

Liz continued her advocacy by attending subsequent council meetings, asking at each meeting for updates to ensure this need remained in front of the Council.  Liz’s diligence paid off. In April 2018, a report of the extensive changes to the George Street/Parkway area was announced, and it includes a cross-walk/handicap accessible curb cut-out at 6th Avenue. Improvements began in the fall 2018.

Since starting her advocacy, Liz made the decision to move into independent living at Normandie Ridge, so she didn’t directly benefit from her advocacy in North York, yet she’s thrilled she did it and encourages others to speak up for ways to make a community safer and more age-friendly. 

AARP offers a Walking Audit Tool Kit.  A walking audit ensures streets and sidewalks are safe for pedestrians and drivers.  The tool kit includes a checklist of things to consider to improve the quality of sidewalks, crosswalks, and other safety features.  If you know of an area in need of an audit, contact TroveStreet and we will either partner with you to conduct the audit or facilitate the audit ourselves. 

In addition, The Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee of YAMPO (York Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) focuses on bicycle and pedestrian improvements within rabbittransit’s fixed route service area. 

Below are ten actions this committee identified for York County.

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