Friendly Streets of Ossining

6090001Wish the streets in our community were more user-friendly for everyone—including pedestrians & cyclists, strollers & seniors?   Please come to Village Hall (16 Croton Ave) at 7:30 on Tuesday, October 8 for the Board of Trustees work session.  First up on the agenda will be a discussion about the potential for implementing a Complete Streets policy in the village.  I’m very pleased to have Veronica Vanterpool of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign coming to help us understand how this policy has worked in other Westchester communities like Dobbs Ferry, New Rochelle and Lewisboro.

In 2011 our New York State legislature unanimously passed Complete Streets legislation.  The Westchester County legislature is currently working on their Complete Streets program.  The goal is to improve a community’s safety, health and economic vibrancy.  Every week the Board of Trustees hears from community members via email, letters, and in-person about improvements they want made to address traffic related issues—traffic calming, parking regulations, sidewalk access, signage…  All of these concerns may be helped by a Complete Streets policy.

Thousands of Ossining residents live in neighborhoods that are walking or biking distance to our local business districts, parks, and schools.  Walkability to these kinds of amenities is something that a majority of homebuyers are looking for today.  This Walkable Suburb website about NJ real estate is entirely devoted to helping homebuyers find a walkable community to move to.  According to this Walk Score website Ossining is “Somewhat Walkable” and earns a score of 64—similar to Croton (66), New Rochelle (69) and Irvington (69).  The highest score I found among neighbors in the “Very Walkable” category was Mount Kisco (88), Tarrytown (85) and Sleepy Hollow close by at (83).

DSC04046Last year Ossining voters went to the polls and resoundingly defeated the proposed Transportation Referendum that might have saved taxpayers around $400,000 by changing the minimum distance a student must live from school to have bus service.  The number one concern I heard from voters was the safety of students walking to school.  It was a very real concern—and at least some of it might be improved by a Complete Streets initiative.  I don’t know that our community will ever reconsider a transportation referendum.  I do know that our community will be better off the more that people feel they can safely walk to schools, parks and businesses near their homes.

Obviously, we do not have the resources to tear up every street and sidewalk and make sweeping changes to all of our driver, pedestrian and bike traffic patterns.  I anticipate that any implementation of a Complete Streets policy would be rolled out in conjunction with individual infrastructure improvements and developments.

What street or intersection do you want to see changed?  Are you a cyclist who doesn’t ride in your own community because you don’t feel safe?  Where would you walk if the roadways were more friendly?

Please join us Tuesday at 7:30 to learn more about what a Complete Streets initiative could look like in Ossining.  If you are a parent, a homeowner, a local business owner, a cyclist, a person who wants to live a community that values safety, health and economic viability—please come.  It’s easy for those of us sitting at the table during village board meetings to mistake a lack of attendance for a lack of concern.  I know that is not true.  Know that when people show up, your presence is felt and promotes a sense of urgency and importance.

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