by Noel Purdy, President, Downtown Chambersburg Inc.
How livable is Chambersburg? What does that even mean?
The AARP Public Policy Institute created a Livability index that measures quality of life. Attributes like green space, access to healthcare, education, public transportation and pedestrian and bike-friendly amenities make a community livable. The livability score for Chambersburg is 53 (on a scale of 100).
The physical design of a community can affect its livability. Access to complete streets can also affect the health and well-being of a community. Safe, attractive sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes and multi-modal transportation options can make a community healthier, by increasing the opportunity for physical activity.
A community health needs assessment conducted by Summit Health in 2012 revealed that Franklin County’s obesity rate increased from 33 percent in 2008 to 36.5 percent in 2012. On the national stage, nearly two-thirds of the population is obese. Many factors such as education, access to healthcare and food can affect the obesity rate.
The “livability” of a place is becoming a top consideration for baby boomers and millennials as they evaluate places to live, which is why it is more important than ever to improve Chambersburg's livability to attract and retain these generations for years to come.
Creating a Pedestrian- and Bike-Friendly Town
A recent survey conducted by the American Planning Association (APA) finds that baby boomers and millennials want cities to focus more on investing in new transportation options, walkable communities and making communities as attractive as possible. Whether the community is a small town, a suburban city or an urban location, 49 percent of respondents someday want to live in a walkable community, while only seven percent want to live where they have to drive to most places.
Liveability.com says that Chambersburg is a car-dependent community and has a walk score of 46 (out of 100).This means that most destinations in Chambersburg require the use of a car and or public transportation (which is lacking). Learn more here.
Recently, leaders from Summit Health and the Franklin County Cyclists Club approached the Borough to develop a Pedestrian and Bike Improvement Plan that will evaluate the existing bike and pedestrian infrastructure and will make recommendations on how to improve it. The group is raising $36,000 to hire a consultant to do the plan.
Borough Council recently approved the preparation of an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for the installation of Shared Lane Bicycle Marking (also known as sharrows). Sharrows help convey to motorists and bicyclists that they must share the roads on which they are operating. The purpose of the markings is to create improved conditions for bicyclists by clarifying where they are expected to ride and to remind motorists to expect bicyclists on the road.
If the application is approved, sharrows will be added in Chambersburg on U.S. Routes 11 and 30 in the Central Core zoning district as well as on Route 11 north to the Borough line and on King Street from Route 11 to Hood Street and the Chambersburg Bike Park.
A diverse group of community stakeholders are working hard to improve the livability of Chambersburg - your support is always appreciated!