|Pedestrian shoulder Ridge Rd.|
According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, "Providing safe places for people to walk is an essential responsiblility of government entities involved in constructing or regulating the construction of public rights-of-way." This seems so obvious, but Amberley has been wrestling with this issue for decades. By not moving forward with long-range planning to make Amberley more pedestrian friendly, housing and livablity trends are passing us by as the Millenial generation is seeking out living spaces that provide multiple options for transportation, which include more public transportion options as well as safe pathways.
It is time for Amberley Village officials to recognize that, although we do not have a central business district within our own community, a majority of our residents live within walking distance of business districts in either Pleasant Ridge, to the south, and Dillonvale, to the north. Safe access to these areas and to our own amentities within the Village will increase our property values thus benefitting the financial forcast for our community
In her presentation, "Designing Communities for All: The role of complete streets in improving accessibility and enhancing economic competitiveness," Kerstin Carr of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (morpc), indicates that "every one-point increase in the 100-point Walk Score scale is associated with an increase in home value of $500-$3,000." From a health standpoint, she cites another study that found that "43% of people with safe places to walk within 10 minutes of home met recommended activity levels. Among individuals without safe places to walk, just 27% were active enough." Amberley has great places to walk -- French Park, Amberley Green, the Amberley Walking Path, the JCC -- but we lack a safe way to get there on foot.
The Health, Education, & Welfare committee of Council held a meeting yesterday on the issue of pedestrian safety. The issue encompasses more than just providing a safe shoulder of the road upon which to walk. Our intersections can be made safer by installing crosswalks. Streets can be identified that are routinely used as cut-through thoroughfares and traffic calming measures can be examined. The city council of Westerville, Ohio, passed a Resolution last year expressing support of the Complete Streets Initiative. By so doing, they are expressing their committment to remember pedestrians when the time comes to budget for street maintenance and improvements.
Amberley should do the same. In fact, at Monday's council meeting, we supported the introduction of a Long Range Financial Plan, the partial mission of which includes this question: "What are (we) doing as... government officials to ensure that our community and ...property value is not only maintained but enhanced ten years from now and beyond?" (Emphasis mine). An important question, and not one to be ignored when budgeting for the maintenance and future of our community.