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Active transportation plan takes step forward

08/07/2018 02:43PM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

The July 30 special meeting of the Council on Economic Development, a joint partnership between the Kennett Square Borough and Kennett Township to explore opportunities in their communities, saw the formal introduction of the Kennett Active Transportation Plan, a partnership between the township and the borough that aspires to create the region’s premier bicycle- and walk-friendly community.

Developed in partnership with ALTA Planning + Design, a global company who provides solutions for making communities stronger, the plan has gone through two-and-a-half years of development, a period that has included collecting data and processing public and private input. The plan is now synthesizing the information into a planned strategy that, when implemented, will integrate both municipalities’ bicycle and trail networks, and promote alternative measures of transportation.

The presentation was chaired by Stu Sirota, ALTA’s Northeast Regional Director, who said that the plan has focused its energies on nine key goals, which will include making cross walk improvements; widening sidewalks; increasing the number of plantings; developing additional trails; creating gateway signage that indicate to motorists that they are entering bicycle and pedestrian zones; transforming under-served alleyways into social spots that draw pedestrians and bicyclists; developing bicycle boulevards that run parallel to main streets and roads; creating a network of trails that will connect Nixon and Pennock parks; and encouraging both municipalities to pass “Complete Streets” ordinances that ensure that roadways undergoing upgrading are planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation.

Additional work on the study has included an on-line survey with 300 local residents – 82 percent of whom either live in the township or the borough -- and an on-line map which has allowed residents to indicate where their active transportation preferences are, or would ideally be.

“During our research, we found that there was a real groundswell of people and organizations in the borough and township who want opportunities for walking and bicycling,” Sirota said. “There has been a growing movement in active and alternative transportation – ride sharing, walking, biking – what we call ‘First- and Last-Mile’ solutions.”

Developing an alternative transportation plan in the borough and the township, Sirota said, will not only be a health, environmental and transportation plus for the community, but will be an economic advantage, as well.

“Through our models we ran, we were able to quantify some real numbers,” he said. “It translates into real dollars for people’s pocket books, for the common good and for government budgets.”

The tenets of the alternate transportation plan – to create a community that is just as accessible by foot and bike as it is by motor vehicle -- are in keeping with national business trends, issued by decree – and en masse – by a younger workforce who are telling their employers that they want to work in a community that provides easy access to work, live and play, within a manageable distance from each other, and accessible by foot or by bike.

“I am a firm believer in that geography is destiny, and we stand right in the middle of southern Chester County,” said Michael Guttman, director of the township’s sustainable development office, who is also actively involved in helping to implement the Active Transportation Plan. “The township and the borough are the lynch-pins for virtually every type of activity that’s going on [in this area], so to the extent that we get our own act together, we will draw in the other municipalities around us.

“This notion of a network is way beyond the immediate network shared in the plan. We’re talking about a network that can connect us from Philadelphia down to Wilmington and Newark.”

While the big- and small-picture schematics of the active transportation plan are still in the talking stage, it comes at a time when both municipalities struggle to come up with solutions on how its residents can best navigate their way around the community.

“What we’re really hearing is a presentation that urges us to be open to possibilities, and not come to the table with solutions already established,” Kennett Township Supervisor and Board Chairman Scudder Stevens said of Sirota’s presentation. “The questions hope to focus us as to what we should look at, and the answers encourage us to find them at a creative place. This discussion encourages that creative approach.”

To learn more about the Kennett Active Transportation Plan, visit https://kennett.pa.us/DocumentCenter/View/2921/3-Kennett-ActiveTransportationPlan-002.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.


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