Workshop "Walks the Talk" in Larchmont's Business District

by Helen Gates of the Rye YMCA

(March 26, 2009 ) “Walking the talk” is exactly what took place at the Walkable Communities Workshop held on March 24th at the Larchmont Avenue Church. Moderated by Charlie Gandy of Livable Communities Consulting, the workshop focused on how to make the Village’s central business district more accessible and friendly to walkers and bikers.

While leading a walking tour of the area, Mr. Gandy, one of the nation’s leading experts on bicycle and pedestrian design, recommended the use of roundabouts, flowered planters, crosswalk striping and art work to create a landscape that is safe and accessible to walkers as well as pleasing to the eye.

Anne McAndrews and Laura Siegal examine maps of the downtown walking route.

Richard Ward, a Village trustee and a longtime advocate of healthful transportation, believes the workshop was helpful in identifying areas for improvement that may later be included in a master plan. “My long term goal is to improve our infrastructure to better accommodate walking, biking and scootering to the business district, the train station and the parks,” he said. “This will improve public health, reduce congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the availability of car parking spaces in the business district.”

In addition to Mr. Ward, workshop participants included: VOL Trustee Anne McAndrews; Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe; Laura Siegal, legislative aide to Judy Myers; David Ciminesi and Maria Stanton from the Larchmont Traffic Commission; and Environmental Committee members Suzanne Frank and Jennifer Jensen.

Trustee RIchard Ward and PTA members Kim Larsen and Liz Fitzgerald were at the work shop.

Mr. Gandy will provide a written report with recommendations within the next few weeks to the Sound Shore Trailways Committee, a recently formed group whose mission is to improve accessibility to trailways and waterways for greater recreational use by residents. Chaired by Mr. Ward, the committee is exploring development of a master plan for Larchmont that addresses bike paths, walkways and kayak access. The committee also met recently with state representatives from the National Park Service to discuss improving access to the Larchmont Reservoir and Premium/Pine Brook marshlands areas.

The March 24th workshop was funded by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council and co-sponsored by the Westchester County Dept. of Transportation and the Rye YMCA. This is the second such workshop in Larchmont and Mamaroneck. In February 2008, a Safe Routes to School workshop was held to address walkability issues around local schools. These initiatives are part of the YMCA’s Activate America movement whose goal is to promote healthy lifestyles through increased physical fitness and healthy eating among both school children and the community at large.

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