Hinsdale Creates Safer Streets for Residents

Hinsdale Adopts “Complete Streets” Policy

Press Release: Healthy Monadnock

When you have two state roads running through a small town, traveling can be hazardous for pedestrians and bicyclists. Town officials of Hinsdale (with Routes 119 and 63 traversing its Main Street) have long wanted to address this dangerous problem.

Town selectman recently passed a “Complete Streets” policy, which will now consider all of Hinsdale’s 4,046 residents — and not just motorized vehicles — when improving its roadways. The Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC) assisted the town in developing the policy as part of their work with the Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) initiative, a collaboration of Healthy Monadnock partners funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hinsdale is the fourth town in the Monadnock Region to adopt a Complete Streets policy; Keene, Swanzey and Troy also have Complete Streets policies in place.

13612375_1018565084865176_4595127328645631323_nThis summer, Hinsdale participated in a Complete Streets demonstration project — a temporary installation of traffic-slowing methods — that inspired town officials and residents to move forward with the policy, said Kathryn Lynch, the town of Hinsdale’s community development coordinator.

“Drivers are not friendly toward, or stop for, pedestrians on Main Street … every day there are close calls,” noted Lynch. The town’s Main Street has four crosswalks; the street also serves as a thoroughfare for the two state highways.

“When we did the Complete Streets demonstration project this summer, we noticed that traffic really slowed down for pedestrians,” said Lynch.

The demonstration project included a bike lane, curb bump-outs, and “parklets,” which are small parks that occupy a parking space with landscaping and benches for people to sit and relax. The parklets were placed across the street from each other, forming a ‘pinch point’ to slow traffic as it entered Main Street.

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“It really brightened up Main Street,” said Lynch. “And it worked. Traffic slowed down.”

The Hinsdale board of selectman adopted the Complete Streets policy in August. The policy requires that any construction of a new road or alteration of an existing road would take all users of the roadway, including pedestrians and bicyclists, into consideration. The policy also looks to create traffic-calming elements on its Main Street; costs would be paid for by grant money.

“We are hoping to do some parklets, or bump-outs that are seasonal,” said Lynch, who has recently applied for a grant to pay for the improvements. The bump-outs would be temporary decking material with planters and benches that could be stored during the winter months when the area needs to be cleared for snow plowing.

The town is also looking to increase the visibility of crosswalks on Main Street to alert motor-vehicle traffic to pedestrians. Lynch also hopes to convince the state’s Department of Transportation to reduce Main Street’s speed limit, currently at 30 miles per hour.

“Right now, drivers just don’t stop for us,” she said.

Other roadways in town also need improvement, noted Lynch, namely School Street where the town’s elementary middle/high schools are located. Among the problems are gaps in the sidewalk network, sidewalks that are in poor condition, and a dangerous blind curve used by schoolchildren to cross Route 119 to school. Other discussions among townspeople and selectmen have included utilizing the rail trails for pedestrian and bicycle traffic for those getting to work or school in town. Lynch is meeting with the state DOT and officials at the National Parks Assistance Program to help promote these ideas.

Complete Streets, coupled with Safe Routes to School programs in its schools, and its new 23 bike racks through the Rack it Up! program, are all steps in the right direction to make Hinsdale a more bike and pedestrian-friendly town, said Lynch.

“Complete Streets will give Hinsdale a stepping stone to make its roads safer,” said Lynch.

Help Us Rethink Marlboro Street: Sign Up to Volunteer

Monadnock Buy Local

Volunteers Needed

The Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) is looking for volunteers to help with its Rethink Marlboro Street event in Keene on September 19th.  Learn more about Complete Street Demo Days in our region.

Volunteer jobs include:

  • PAINT CREW: Friday 9/18 at 6:00 p.m. – Creating bicycle lanes and crosswalks with removable traffic tape and chalk paint.
  • SETUP CREW: Saturday 9/19 7-11am – Set up education table, pop-up bus stop, bicycle station, planters, benches, etc. (May require lifting.)
  • EVENT CREW: Saturday 9/19 11am-4pm – Gather public input, take pictures, check out green bikes, oversee/supervise design elements.
  • BREAKDOWN CREW: Saturday 9/19 4:00-7pm – Return loaned materials, breakdown of all previously created elements, pick up road tape, cleanup.

If you’d like to sign up for a volunteer shift, please email Mari at mbrunner@swrpc.org.

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State Transportation Presentation in Keene on October 20

Attend the State Transportation Presentation

From Tara Germond, Southwest Region Planning Commission & MRTMA

Where:  Keene Recreation Center

When:  Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

What:  Hear a presentation on the State’s plan for investing in transportation infrastructure and operations over the next Ten Years and offer your feedback and ask questions.  Ten Year Plan Information

Why:  MRTMA stakeholders may be interested in attending these events as it involves how funding is spent on all modes of transportation in the State.  Here’s a glimpse of SWRPC’s analysis on how the plan will affect our highways and bridges as well as bike, ped and transit modes:

  •  Federal funding for highway and bridge infrastructure is not planned to be matched with new state cash, but instead with Turnpike toll credits previously invested in the state’s Turnpike.  The result is that our state will not be leveraging $30 million per biennium.
  • The State plans to transfer 50% of federal funding from popular bike and ped programs such as the Transportation Enhancement program towards highway and bridge needs.
  • Recently, New Hampshire has transferred $1.6 million ($800,00 per year) of “flexible” highway funding towards providing transit services.  The plan discontinues this funding transfer so that funding can meet shortfalls in other parts of the transportation budget.  The Monadnock Region has received a portion of this funding and using the funding to provide 5,700 more additional trips for people that need a ride in our Region per year.
  • The construction of an important multi-use bridge proposed in Keene, “South Bridge”, has been deferred from 2013 to 2021

Complete Streets Resolution for Keene Submitted to City Clerk

This week, the Complete Streets Resolution for the City of Keene was submitted to the City Council.  Along with this resolution, we sent a list of 224 community supporters of Complete Streets.  We’ll be sure to keep you posted on the resolution’s progress.  Thank you for ALL of your support!

Dear City Councilors:

I am writing to request that the City of Keene pass the enclosed Complete Streets Resolution.

Complete Streets help communities design and maintain roads for all – drivers, public transport riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists of all ages and abilities – while maximizing the positive impacts roads have on our safety, economic development, quality of life, environment and public health.

The 2010 Keene Comprehensive Master Plan states “Members of the community expressed a desire, as part of creating Keene’s walkable community, to strive for ‘complete streets.’ Keene should make it a consistent policy to design streets with all users in mind…”  The attached list of community supporters underscores this support.

Recent studies have indicated that Complete Streets can boost local economies by increasing residential property values (homeowners are willing to pay more to live in walkable, bikable communities) and retail sales (businesses located along Complete Streets often see an increase in sales).  Also, Complete Streets improve safety and reduce crashes by providing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as safe crossings, sidewalks, or on-road bicycle lanes. Complete Streets promote public health by making it safe and convenient for children and families to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives – contributing to the goals of Vision 2020 to make our community the healthiest in the nation by 2020.

Supporting Complete Streets is investing in a stronger and healthier Keene.  I urge you to pass a Complete Streets Resolution for Keene.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Risley