It's all about turning cant’s into cans and dreams into plans. For now, the dream being sidewalks. I've got my heart set on a bunch of concrete squares - this girl’s new best friend. In Penn Valley we have formed the Penn Valley Sidewalk Group. You can find us on Facebook and join the discussion, or sign up for our email list at PVsidewalkgroup@gmail.com. It feels like, sounds like and tastes like a no-brainer in Penn Valley. We've got two schools- Welsh Valley Middle School and Penn Valley Elementary along a short stretch of road - road that's dangerous to travel when you are forced to walk in the shoulder or on the sections of greenways. The Penn Valley Sidewalk Group's goal is to support a safe walking path along the school route - Welsh Valley Middle to Penn Valley Elementary extending out to Montgomery Ave. The benefits are many and the challenges real.
The number one benefit, and the future sidewalk's raison d'etre, is, of course, safety. Safe pedestrian travels for the hundreds of students who could, would like to, and already walk to school. Safe travels for runners, dog walkers, shoppers, and the romantics who like to travel in pairs. Safety is a top priority. No reason to wait until someone gets hit by a car to figure out how to keep our children safe.
More school walkers means fewer school buses needed. Safe sidewalks mean fewer cars on the road which means less traffic and real environmental benefits.
A sidewalk down Hagys Ford Rd., onto Old Gulph Rd., and out to Montgomery Ave. means that Penn Valley residents will finally have a safe way to get walk to the Narberth Business District and public transit. (more train commuters contributing to that fewer-cars-on-the-road thought.) Supporting local businesses is the way to a healthy local economy, and vibrant business districts mean higher property values. It's a win all around.
Walking is good for your health. I'm pretty sure we can't address the nation's obesity issues. No special tax on vitamin water or size restrictions on your frappuccino coming soon. We can, however, encourage walking to school which has been shown to encourage an overall increase in daily activity in children and help keep obesity at bay.
And lastly, while it's at the bottom of this list, the need for connections and community building has never been greater. In Penn Valley there's no park, there's no library, but there are two schools. Giving a community safe pathways to shared space has the potential to open many doors. More on that some other time.
I'd be remiss, and foolish, not to acknowledge some of the challenges. Sure, it's expensive but it's also not out of reach. And we'll definitely have to get creative in how we fund this project. However, we have strong and active school communities and committed neighbors. There's also potential grant money out there and ways to make things happen. Stuff happens every day that someone deemed too expensive or too hard to do. I personally think it would be pretty cool to build a sidewalk funded by bake sales and sponsored cement squares. Our township has lots of resources at its disposal, and prior plans that all contribute to the do-ability of this project. As with any project/thought/move you might even consider making, there will be some opposition. Whether it's from others who think their sidewalk is more deserving (Penn Valley Sidewalk Group supports walking to all schools by the way) or a property owner who doesn't want a sidewalk in front of their house. So we've got to listen and we've got to collaborate. We have to use our resources and work together.
If you care about students walking to school, and safe pathways around our beautiful township, I encourage you to join the Penn Valley Sidewalk Group.