Walk to Sustainability

by Amy on September 27, 2017

A truly sustainable lifestyle is one that is connected to the community – physically connected – so that you can walk or ride your bike to the store, to meetings, to meet up with neighbors, or even to get to the gym! When we lived out in Kennett Square neighbors would gasp when I rode my bike to the grocery store.  They would say things like, “That road is dangerous.”, “You could get killed!”, “Why don’t you drive?”.  Well, given there were no sidewalks and very little shoulder, and cars routinely race up Cypress Street at 40, 50 and 60 mph, I wasn’t about to try walking.  Biking seemed like a reasonable alternative to the car that would provide transportation and exercise.  The bike ride was intimidating and sometimes downright scary – it lacked any semblance of community connection – all that can be said is that it was doable.

Fast forward to last week.

Imagine the smile on my face as I looked up from the red light at the grocery store to see a sidewalk being constructed

 that connects the shopping area to the town! A safe community connection.  As I sat at the light, with the sidewalk cement barely set, three young teens rode up to the Dunkin Donuts on their bikes! (Note that there are no bike racks in the area except the grocery store where there is a little rack).

This sidewalk project is a first step to transforming Kennett Township into a wonderful, walkable community.  Presently there are two township projects in the works; one on each side of town.  The project I am most excited about is funded through an $850,000 DVRPC administered, PA DOT Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant. It connects the western edge of Kennett Square Borough (KSQ) with the retail areas at the eastern edge of New Garden Township. Kennett Township sits strategically in the middle of the two. The project also connects a large residential neighborhood to KSQ via a sidewalk along State St.

 

Walking is gaining momentum in the Kennett area. ‘Downtown’ Kennett Square is part of the PA Department of Health WalkWorks program that encourages getting out for a walk with an app that tracks your progress and maps out routes that pass by key town destinations like township sidewalk at Cypress St and S. Mill Rd. A perfect connection for a longer, purposeful or leisurely walk.  Imagine the next steps in making this wonderful sidewalk a walking mecca – trees, pop-up gardens, resting spots, a public park, new shops….

My sense is that this simple sidewalk will have tremendous long-term impacts that start with better health and stronger community connections and extend to increased real estate values and development both in the New Garden Shopping Centers and along Cypress St.  With improved landscaping it will create a welcoming entrance to KSQ, and result in slower traffic as the area becomes more people friendly and less a place that you just pass through.

Congratulations Kennett Township on your first steps to becoming that long envisioned wonderful, walkable community.

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