Above: From left, Ben Revkin, Lillian Picchione, and Rita Kerr-Vanderslice use at a large map of the town to identify those areas most in need of changes to make them safer for walking and cycling, during Active EG’s May 5 meeting at the library.
By Dimitri Daskalopoulos
Biking and walking are among the healthiest ways to get to school, work, or shops. And, they provide public health benefits too, by cutting down on the use of cars and the fossil fuels needed to propel them, as well as reducing traffic.
The newly formed local volunteer group, Active EG, is focused exactly on these issues. Its mission is advocating for infrastructure, programming and policies to ensure the safety of those who want to walk or bike around town. On Thursday, May 5, the group had their first meeting at the East Greenwich Free Library exploring points of interest around East Greenwich that were identified as hazardous for bikers and walkers.
There’s no single cause for the decline, but a lot more children used to walk or bike to school in the U.S. then do today. According to Safe Routes to School, 48 percent of children between ages 5 and 14 either biked or walked to school. By 2009, that number had dropped to 13 percent. Members of Active EG agree that areas around schools need accessible sidewalks and bike lanes to help to promote active transport. More specifically, Frenchtown Road, Middle Road, and Lebaron Drive were identified as having the most obstacles for those wishing to walk or bike to and from school. Those at the library debated how best to fix these problems, however there was consensus that the school district and the town needed to work together to address these issues.
The group also discussed getting to and from shopping centers, specifically supermarkets.
The plaza at 1000 Division, which includes Dave’s Marketplace, is at the intersection of two very busy roads, Division Street and Route 2. Those at the Active EG meeting talked about adding sidewalks as well as bike lanes to the area. A recent study in Europe found cycling increased up to 48 percent more in places where biking infrastructure was added than in places that lacked it.
Finding ways to create change in the community is a priority for Active EG, according to organizers Rita Kerr-Vanderslice and Lillian Shuey Picchione. A large focus of the meeting was centered around the lack of bike lanes and sidewalks connecting affordable housing districts to supermarkets, schools, and other hubs for activity. Strategy on how to best take on this challenge will take place in future meetings.
Active EG is looking for members. If you would like to join their group, you can find them on Facebook HERE.
EG News intern Dimitri Daskalopoulos is a senior at Rocky Hill Country Day School.