SUNY Fredonia students evaluate Dunkirk sidewalks and crossings

Students from SUNY Fredonia recently assisted in the evaluation of the safety of some of Dunkirk’s sidewalks and street crossings. Their work was the result of a collaboration between the City of Dunkirk, SUNY Fredonia’s Center for Regional Advancement and Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play.

Creating Healthy Places is a New York State Health Department initiative to prevent chronic disease through increasing access to healthy food and opportunities to be physically active. Chaut-auqua County Health Net-work administers Creating Healthy Places in Chaut-auqua County.

The walkability studies are the first step in assisting the city to make its streets and sidewalks safer and more convenient for walking and bicycling.

“Approximately a third of Americans don’t drive,” said Andy Dickson, the Built Environment Contractor to CHP. “In addition, the last 30 years have seen our roads and communities designed primarily for vehicular traffic while our obesity rates have skyrocketed. We need safer and more convenient streets, or ‘complete streets,’ for children and the elderly, as well as for healthier and more vibrant communities.”

Complete streets ordinances have been adopted by municipalities throughout New York state and across the country. A complete streets ordinance is a policy that directs future improvements and road designs to give equal consideration to the safety and convenience of pedestrians and cyclists. Buffalo, Rochester, Gow-anda and Erie County are among the many other governments around the state that have already adopted these ordinances.

“The walkability studies will provide the city with objective, citizen-based information and facilitate the consideration and adoption of a complete streets ordinance,” Dickson continued. “The city of Jamestown accomplished this last year and we hope to do the same in Dunkirk this year.”

The walkability assessments conducted by the students focused primarily along Central Avenue between Third Street and Lake Shore Drive and a few blocks in either direction. CHP is planning additional studies to be conducted around parks and residential corridors where walking and biking are important for school, shopping, work, leisure and cultural activities.

“This project provided students at SUNY Fredonia with a unique opportunity to apply classroom concepts in an ongoing project conducted by a respected community organization,” said Chuck Cornell, Director of the Center for Regional Advan-cement. “The Center strives to engage the community and look for opportunities for students, and ways to apply university resources to strengthen community initiatives.”

CHP is seeking volunteers from area congregations, neighborhood associations, social clubs, retirement communities, etc. to assist with additional walkability assessments in their neighborhoods around the city.

Anyone interested in helping is encouraged to contact Andy Dickson at 499-6657.