The town of DeWitt is looking to become more friendly to bikers and walkers. The suburban community, east of Syracuse, is gathering suggestions from residents and businesses before making any changes.
DeWittshire, one of the earliest housing developments in the DeWitt, was built in the 1920s and ‘30s. Its streets are lined with sidewalks. Many of Dewitt’s later developments, built in the 1950s and ‘60s, reflected America’s post-war love affair with cars. There’s not a sidewalk in sight.
Fast forward 50 years, and residents are apparently looking for ways those neighborhood can become more walkable, and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods.
Town planner Sam Gordon says that’s what he’s been hearing at a series of community forums called “Moving DeWitt.”
"I think people are willing and not just willing, but they want to see this change happen,” said Gordon. "There are a lot of people who are saying, I would like to be able to get out of my car, and walk through my neighborhood, and walk to the grocery store, that sort of thing.”
Gordon says the idea is to get support from the public for future improvements to the town’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. And that could be as simple as adding a crosswalk or developing a long-term plan to link things like canal paths with other communities.
And DeWitt isn’t alone. Gordon says communities everywhere are considering making roads safer for non-motorists, with New York state encouraging something called "complete streets,” that make roadways friendly for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users as well as motorists.
"If you think of New York City for example. Right now, New York City is one of the premiere bicycling cities in North America. And if you just looked ten years ago, you’d probably take your life in your hands to go through New York on the bicycle,” said Gordon. “So it’s really something that’s changing in communities across the country.”
Gordon says information from a continuing series of public forums will be used to develop a bicycling and pedestrian master plan for the town of DeWitt.