IN THIS ISSUE
Safety for All Ages in Nyack, NY
At FHI safety is paramount in our multi-modal planning efforts. We take into consideration the obstacles and opportunities for safe travel for people of all ages, from kids to seniors. We recently completed a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for Nyack, NY and the surrounding communities, where some of our most valuable insights came from students at Nyack High School and kids and parents who experienced our temporary bike lane at the Earth Day festival.
Administered by the Village of Nyack, NY, the plan brought together the Villages of South Nyack, Upper Nyack, and the unincorporated hamlets of Valley Cottage and Upper Grand View. Because the study boundary matched that of the Nyack School District, a common bond was created across the municipalities, elevating the importance of planning for diverse age groups and communities, as well as diverse infrastructure and mobility challenges. Representatives from the school district, who participated in our community-based Steering Committee, were invaluable supporters along the way.
At FHI, we consistently emphasize the importance of outreach in schools, because we know that kids have unique and important perspectives on the built environment, transportation, and what their communities have to offer. This was proven true during the Nyack Study, as some students walk more than a half hour to school but don’t consider riding a bike because of safety concerns, topography, or both. And yet, while relatively few students are riding to school, many walk and ride bikes in their free time to visit friends and for recreation. Likewise, parents would happily trade the short car trip to school for a safer, and more active option for their kids.
Tragically, in the short seven months during which we conducted our study, two pedestrians were killed by motorists, including one at the intersection of Broadway and Main Street in Nyack. When lives are lost in the heart of an already vibrant, walkable community, the urgency of our mission comes to the fore. We must all work harder and get more creative with solutions to keep people safe as much as we work to keep them moving.
Our plan for the Nyack area includes tangible actions, including traffic calming and enhanced infrastructure for active mobility, as well as policy and programming, such as a multi-village active transportation task force, a lower area-wide default speed limit, and expanded education and encouragement for safe walking and bicycling in the school district.
With our project partners from Street Plans, we installed two demonstration projects on Earth Day to let local residents experience the possibilities of safer street crossings and protected bicycle lanes. Kids were drawn to the bike lane and parents were able to consider trips downtown that might now feel too dangerous with children, or even adults. Inspiring a sense of possibility is instrumental in growing grassroots support to rethink how we design and manage the street.
We can’t enforce our way out of dangerous behavior on our streets, nor does every municipality have the resources to redesign and rebuild every street corner. What we must do is infuse the importance of safety in every aspect of our planning work, by engaging the community to consider how every street user – regardless of age, ability, or demographics – has the opportunity for safe and equitable mobility. A practical plan empowers locals, offers tools and techniques, and fosters the momentum necessary to make every street safer, for everyone.