Better pedestrian facilities needed

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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To the editor:

As a resident who has lived in Suffolk for two years, I have noticed that pedestrians are not adequately accommodated when it comes to the streets of Suffolk. In my area, on Kenyon Road, I live right between a high school and a middle school; yet, what surprises me is that there are not any visible sidewalks to protect the children from cars. Paved sidewalks are vital in a prosperous community as it reduces roadway crashes involving pedestrians.

According to the U.S Department of Transportation, “Roadways without sidewalks are more than twice as likely to have pedestrian crashes as sites with sidewalks on both sides of the street.” With the upcoming expansion of Holland Road, it is important to first accommodate the pedestrians, especially the schoolchildren walking to and from school. It horrifies me that there are no crosswalks or sidewalks between these long stretches of busy road.

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Sidewalks are necessary in a community. Not only do they help pedestrians get from point A to point Z, but they promote a healthier lifestyle, such as running, biking and walking. Also, sidewalks would help the area grow economically. In an article from the AARP, “Retail properties with a Walk Score ranking of 80 out of 100 were valued 54 percent higher than properties with a Walk Score of 20 and had an increase in net operating income of 42% for more walkable properties.” Keep in mind that walk scores above 70-89 is deemed as very walkable for running errands, while a score of below a 50 is more car dependent. The Suffolk area has a walk score of 15, which is deemed as dependent on transportation and not pedestrian-friendly. Walkable communities help businesses grow, as pedestrians are more likely to walk to local businesses due to the connectivity between residential areas and commercial areas. One article, from the Professional Concrete Flatwork & Repair Company, stresses the importance of adding sidewalks in a community, stating “Well-designed and safe sidewalks help direct the flow foot traffic towards local retailers or commercial centers as well as foster social interaction and customer loyalty.” A car-dependent city is an unhealthy, unsafe and stagnant city.

This letter is a call to action. We need to be heard and supported as a community. The busy roads near the schools and neighborhoods are far too dangerous and could lead to a foreseeable accident in the future. Implementing crosswalks and paved sidewalks would help the community travel easier, while promoting a healthier way of living. Residents in communities with sidewalks are 47% more likely to be active for at least 39 minutes a day, than compared to non-pedestrian friendly communities, according to an AARP article. A pedestrian-friendly city would benefit our community socially and economically, for it would bring the community closer while establishing good standing relationships with local businesses. It is time for an immediate change.

Siggy Reyes