Lewisburg Area Candidate Voices on Walking and Biking Fall 2017

Walk It! Bike It! sent three questions to all municipal and school board candidates on the ballot in the Lewisburg Area School District.  That includes East Buffalo Township, Kelly Township, Lewisburg Borough, and Union Township.  The candidates were also invited to attend a Meet & Greet on Oct 19 at Earl’s Bicycle Store in advance of the election.  WIBI was thrilled to see many area voters and walking/biking supporters at Earl’s for that event.  It was a great opportunity to get to know more about the candidates views on these issues and to start working on the community collaboration needed to make improvements a reality. 

If you weren’t able to attend our candidate night, please remember that the Lewisburg Area League of Women Voters will also be hosting a Candidate Forum on Monday, October 30, at 7pm at the East Buffalo Township Building.  There will be a school board panel fielding questions.  Other candidates will be introduced, but no statements will be made either by those in uncontested races or those who don’t have the entire slate for a given office represented.

WIBI operates under the LNC’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation and as such we can advocate for issues, but we cannot endorse candidates.  The Meet & Greet is being offered as an educational outreach both of use in showing candidates there is a constituency that cares about these topics and showing the voters who their elected officials will (or may) be and encouraging them to reach out to them, talk to them, share their ideas and concerns.  We look forward to working with whomever is elected on November 7.  We are glad to serve as a resource for both public input and background on planning, precedents, and best practices that are of relevance for our community.

The questions posed to all the candidates were:

1) How can local students and/or residents benefit from a walkable and bikeable community?

2) What steps would you take to help develop safe walking and biking routes to the new Lewisburg Area High School? 

3) What other ideas do you have for improving student and/or resident well-being through active transportation?

 

Here is a full list of candidates for non-clerical office.  Candidates shown in bold have supplied written responses to the questions.  Their responses are shown below in the order they are listed here:

List of candidates:
East Buffalo Township Supervisor:
Char Gray
Tony Stafford

Kelly Township Supervisor:
6 year term: Elvin Stoltzfus
2 year term: Steven Ranck

Lewisburg Borough:
Mayor: Judy Wagner
Ward 1: Sue Mahon
Ward 2:
2 year term:
Jordi Comas
Fred Martin
4 year term: Sue Yohn
Ward 3: David Heayn
Ward 4: Luis Medina
Union Township Supervisor:
Mark Bieber
David Jacobson

Lewisburg Area School Board:
4 year term:
Mary Brouse
Lisa B. Clark (also 2 year)
Michael J. Drexler
Angelo R. Kifolo, Jr.
Benita Kolmen-Solomon
John M. Rowe
Mary Ann Sigler Stanton
2 year:
Lisa B. Clark (also 4 year)
Mary Howe
Virginia Zimmerman

 

Scroll down (and down) for full responses

Char Gray

1) First of all, I welcome walking and biking as the norm (instead of the exception) for school children and residents.  Many of us will reminisce about how those bikes or our own two feet gave us independence and access to activities in our own youth without relying on our parents.  The health benefit is clear.  Other benefits, of course, include teaching responsibility, independence, and attentiveness. 

2) First, I would encourage enforcement of the residential 25, 30 or 35 mph speed limits.  If you do the math, you will realize that going 40 mph rather than the posted 25 mph only saves you 27 seconds for a ½ mile stretch.   That little time saved is not worth an accident or harm to a biker or pedestrian – or a $100+ speeding ticket!

Second, I would review the status of white lines on the road edges (often called fog lines).  These white lines reinforce to bikers and walkers where they are in relation to the car traffic lane.

Third, I would consider efforts to remind motorists that bicyclists and pedestrians share the roads.  For example, “4 feet – it’s the law” signs and “Share the Road” signs at appropriate locations may be of benefit.  Additionally, painted signs on the road itself (instead of just a metal sign on the side) helps to alert cars, bikers and pedestrians of areas that may have limited sight.   

Fourth, I would favor mapping out and posting (in the school, on the website, and other public places) the less traveled routes to the school from various neighborhoods in the community.  These inexpensive reminders will help reinforce that there are alternatives to driving.   A longer-term – and more involved — plan will be to investigate adding bike paths throughout the area.  Of course, cost and engineering difficulties (due to the defined road space with typically very little shoulders and property ownership) will need to be examined.

3) I think we can find ways to make walking and biking more enjoyable and attractive to families and individuals. For example, I recently visited a town walking/biking path in a New Jersey town where local community members developed an idea to encourage an active lifestyle.  Along this NJ trail, gnome/fairy houses are set up by community members about every ¼ mile.  They are decorated differently, at the whim of the individual or group who sets it up.  Both children and adults take the treats left by others and in return leave surprises for the next “travelers.”   This could be a great way to stimulate the imagination as well as get all ages out on the BVRA Rail Trail – walking or biking from gnome house to gnome house.  Perhaps the WalkIt/BikeIt group in conjunction with the garden club would like to organize something like this here?  I will certainly help.  It is just one example of how we could encourage and motivate people to walk and bike.

 

 

Tony Stafford

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to these questions. I am 100% in support of walkable and bikeable communities. The benefits for this community are already beginning to cement themselves as an asset for Lewisburg, East Buffalo Township, and surrounding community residents.   

Investing in bikeable and walkable infrastructure provides numerous benefits to residents, including individual and environmental health, safety, and a stronger economy. First and foremost, more bike/ped opportunities help with the health of its residents through exercise and stress relief, leading to longer life expectancy, and lower medical costs. Residents of all ages and abilities benefit from the rail trail and other walkable/bikeable pathways specifically, which have created a safe area for children, families, residents, commuters, and other visitors, to navigate major roadways and thoroughfares.  Communities that support this infrastructure lessen their environmental impact — less cars mean cleaner air and water. Ultimately creating a lower impact on our environment will continue to move the economy in a positive direction.  Creating infrastructure for bikes and pedestrians help save costs to those who use the trail systems for commuting. Data shows that people move to areas with robust bike/ped infrastructure, strengthening our tax base, increasing property values. More people means more business and a stronger economy.

I believe that communities who support bikers and pedestrians have a higher quality of life.  I personally enjoy biking and walking in nature.  I appreciate the ability to walk downtown, to work, or bike with my family.  It also helps me connect to local community members that also enjoy getting out to connect to these bikeable and walkable lanes in our community.  I will strive to continue strategically investing in a more bikeable and walkable community for our residents.

Currently I receive written updates from Sam Pearson and support the work the organization is doing – I hope to engage with this organization more.  The ‘Walk It, Bike It‘ strategic plan is a great first step; local grassroots organizing is by far the most impactful way to create change.  As an EBT supervisor it would be in the best interest of EBT to collaborate, plan, and work with the residents to improve the community — I plan to do this and engage with as many community members as possible to get their input.  It is imperative for elected officials to exhaust as many options as possible in regards to funding projects. I am also well aware that there is private and governmental funding for projects helping communities move toward biking and pedestrian friendly.  It is paramount that these projects be developed in a fiscally responsible fashion.    

I am connected to Bucknell administration and students.  A great deal of research, grants, ideas, and collaborations can be supported by working with the university community.  The Bucknell community is invested in connecting Bucknell to the community and beyond.  I believe we need to assess routes and do research in the local areas so we can prioritize how we can move forward with bike and pedestrian pathways.  The rail trail along Rt. 45 helps residents beyond East Buffalo and the Borough — I will strive to collaborate and fund initiatives with a broader audience outside of Kelly Township, Union Township, East Buffalo Township, and the Lewisburg Borough.  It is crucial for local governments and other stakeholder to work collaboratively to create both short and long term plans. Lastly, I will work to promote local ‘Walk It, Bike It’ events to engage residents in education and outreach.

I am lucky to live in a community that supports walking and biking infrastructure.  I have had the opportunity to work with Brian Auman and BEMBA (Bald Eagle Mountain Bike Association) to brainstorm ideas for our community.  I will continue to work with local community members and businesses willing to support local biking and walking events designed and run by local biking and pedestrian friendly organizations.  Locally, we must work and collaborate with Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department and local municipalities to support community events and bring in other stakeholders.  More broadly, we must work with PennDOT and legislatures to bring attention to this area to support long term big projects, like crossing Route 15 or the Susquehanna River.  It is important for the supervisors to be proactive and work alongside community members instead of putting 100% of ownership on the shoulders of community members.  These projects will lack cohesion if the governing municipalities are not involved and working together with your organization.  

 

 

Steven Ranck

  1. My wife and I are both walkers and bikers and enjoy the opportunity to get outside, get some good exercise and relieve the stress and tension of everyday life.  We currently do this for primarily recreational and health purposes.  These same benefits can be shared by other students and residents of the area.
  2. I struggle with creating safe walking and biking routes to the new high school.  For all the students who live south of Buffalo Creek, there is no good way to get to the high school property.  Even for the students who may live in Kelly Township, the roads around the high school are some of the busiest and most hazardous in the township. 
  3. From the township’s perspective, there are a number of things that could be done to help improve walking and biking in general.  A traffic study would be a good place to start in order to better manage the flow of vehicles on the existing township road system.  Working with developers to design new residential developments to promote safe walking within the development’s road system would be another way to develop walking options.  Road design standards can also be reviewed to make sure future roads help promote walking and biking.

 

Jordi Comas

1) We all love Lewisburg and what it offers.  The quality of life here owes much to the infrastructure for walking and biking.  That infrastructure is often lost or overlooked in the suburban edges of “greater” Lewisburg which includes Linntown and the denser parts of Kelly Township.

In office, I would work to protect and expand “livable” Lewisburg by which I mean the denser areas where walkers, bikers, and drivers all interact and intersect.

The benefits of livable Lewisburg include more opportunities for exercise, a lower carbon footprint for residents, a more attractive community for residents and businesses, and a stronger sense of community.  All of these benefits can be shown to exist in research.

Students, in particular, can benefit from livable Lewisburg because being able to safely walk or bike to a school enhances a young person’s sense of autonomy.  I think liberals and conservatives can agree that too much of a culture of protectionism is not great for kids. For kids in co-curricular activities, it can also mean less of a burden on parent-chauffeurs.  For high-schoolers to be able to access their school without a car can save money for some families.  In addition, there is a generalized sense of place and community we get from walking.  You see more at that speed — you notice details in nature and in the human community.  This is hard to measure, but it is part of what builds a sense of connection and place which we know makes for healthier communities.

2) As a council member, I need to learn more about the Borough’s ability to affect accessibility to the new High School.

Though not a “sexy” answer, I think simply opening a line of communication to the school directors and administration is a start.  What are their concerns? What do residents want?  Can we find easy solutions to some issues?  So, I would seek some sort of working group or committee or whatever to get this conversation going.

Second, I would seek to have local and regional planning efforts such as the Rt 15 planning or others include the LASD leadership.  

Third, as the Borough renovates or improves existing roadways and other transportation infrastructure, I would seek to include adding accessibility criteria to that process.  In other words, when roads are fixed, can they be made more accessible?  

Similarly, as Kelly Township or other entities address traffic flows to the new high school, we can be part of building a consensus that a bike/foot trail or access needs to be added.  

3) Well, I will add active transportation to my vocabulary.  Getting all of us who care about this on the same page can help advance the agenda.

I would like to see other communities, especially of similar size or in PA, that have ideas we can beg, borrow, or steal.

We need better and more places to store bikes in the borough.

I would seek to work with or recruit local biking enthusiasts to create maps of beautiful bike routes based here to help promote LBG.  

I want to explore improvements to parking in the borough including the meters as well as the safety problem of the front-end diagonal parking on Market St.

I would work with local partners such as the BVRPD, library, schools, churches, scouts, and others to have bike and pedestrian safety information accessible, FUN, and in multiple formats (in person, web-based, and so on).

 

Fred Martin

The benefits of being able to bike and walk in and around the Borough are positive and multiple.  These forms of exercise promote good health and allow for being more “green” or energy independent.  They also promote for those persons senses of independence and help build community by being in the area, rather than merely passing through it.  These were the effects which I felt when I intermittently biked or walked to school from 7h through 12th grade in my hometown.

The LASD School Board, having located the new high school in Kelly Township, limited severely that which the Borough directly can do to improve walking and biking there.  The Borough can and should encourage “Walk It/Bike It” school events at least in the Fall and Spring.  This will compel LASD and Kelly officials to confront these issues relating to those forms of transportation and hopefully to make positive accommodations which can be utilized by students year long.  To the extent possible the Council can establish, at school bus drop off points within the Borough, facilities to allow for the storing of bikes by students who ride to those locations as well as insure that walking from those sites is safe.

Other steps can be taken by the Borough generally for improving student and resident walking/biking.  These would include:  supporting and expanding the Rail Trail further into the Borough, developing through LNC or the Borough a regular metho by which residents can identify and seek remediation of unsafe sidewalks or streets, and, finally, creating designated and identifiable bike routes through town streets.

 

Luis Medina

  1. A walkable and bikable community can benefit residents by providing a healthy transportation alternative as walking/biking are good methods of exercise. Having a walkable and biking community provides the opportunity for people to learn more about the local businesses in our historic downtown. It also provides relief from having to look for parking and worry about parking meters. Having a walkable/biking community serves as an opportunity for residents to become more connected to our borough and enjoy its many wonders. At last having a walkable/biking community can be for many an activity to spend time with family and friends.
  2. I would encourage that the Lewsiburg Neighborhoods Corporation and Walk It and Bike It organization meet to map and analyze the area and meet with the Lewisburg Borough Council to develop ideas on how to create safe walking and biking routes to the new Lewisburg Area High School.
  3. There is a safety concern when walking across Rt 15 whether it is to go to Giant, CVS, go to the pool or visit a neighbor on the other side. Even though we have crosswalks, walking or biking across Rt 15 can be intimidating. I have an idea that may be bold but it is worth discussing. I would like for the community to discuss a pedestrian bridge across Rt 15 has a safety feature.

I welcome residents to share ideas with me about how to improve student/ resident well being through active transportation. I would enjoy to discuss ideas and bring these to council meetings as well as to the individual committees that oversee various aspects of Lewisburg.

 

David Jacobson

Benefits of a walkable and bikeable community

  • Improves the health of students and residents
  • Increases property value
  • Promotes tourism
  • Can stimulate the economy by having people shop along the paths
  • Improves air quality by reducing auto emissions
  • Encourages socializing

Steps to connect to the new Lewisburg Area High School 

  • I would support studies to connect walking paths from Union Township to East Buffalo Township.
  • I would support the creation of bicycle paths.
  • I would assemble transportation, health and planning people with school officials, law enforcement, and families to properly plan.
  • I would investigate funding sources.

Other ideas for active transportation

  • Provide information to residents about options available in the community.
  • Having goals and measuring progress will help encourage more active transportation.
  • Healthy food will help overall well-being.
  • Encourage drinking water instead of flavored drinks.

 

Mary Brouse

I think students, residents can certainly benefit from a walkable and bikeable community.  As far as steps to take to develop safe walking and biking routes to the new high school, it should be a team or joint effort with the community, township, township police, and district.   

I feel a committee of all interested above mentioned stakeholders plus students should be formed.  I know there was once a similar committee formed, but the Board hasn’t heard too much from them lately.   If that has disbanded maybe engage it again and add a few more folks as well. 

This will need to be well planned to ensure the safety of all who travel this route.  People will use it.  I am amazed as to how many people use the Rail to Trail.  I live right by it and it is used heavily.  

I guess I already mentioned ideas above, but I would think a survey or study to determine the safety issues, best route for the route, etc.   Possibly include representation from the Conservation group of our county.

 

Lisa B. Clark

  1. As a health care professional, I advocate physical activity as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.  Walking and biking are among the best ways to achieve and maintain the well-being of both the body and the mind.
  1. Many of the issues related to developing walk and bike paths to the high school are beyond the legal authority of the Lewisburg Area School Board of Directors.  These are state and municipal planning and funding issues.  Nevertheless, I would support district officials providing information and professional advice for any studies undertaken by those with the authority to develop walk and bike paths.
  1. I am open to discussing ideas that will help all residents live healthier and more active lives.  I would encourage open communication between the School Board, district officials, and members of Walk it/Bike it Lewisburg!

 

Michael Drexler

The questions you have asked are great and important.  Having lived in communities designed for pedestrians and cyclers before moving to Lewisburg, I do wish we had more forethought in planning.  The health benefits of active transportation are obvious, but there are other factors that make planning for cycling and walking desirable.  Wouldn’t it be great to have Market Street become a pedestrian mall?  Property values would rise, businesses would prosper, and people would get to know their neighbors better than they do traversing parking lots and navigating traffic.  Perhaps this is far-fetched; however, there are smaller steps that could greatly improve existing infrastructure like the rail trail.  Most necessary is a better and safer option for crossing Route 15.  A second priority would be a north-south extension to the rail trail connecting the existing route to the High School and Kelly Elementary.  I’m not a city planner, so I’m not in a position to suggest how to do this.  But this community needs to hire professionals with experience to carry out planning and implementation.  I suppose that’s my chief suggestion:  Let’s improve our community wisely and not haphazardly.  Let’s get it right the first time.

 

Benita Kolmen Solomon

1 – We spend so much time inside, on computers or electronics that sometimes we forget the benefits of going outside.  By offering a safe way for our students and residents to walk and bike, either for recreation, for getting to work or to get to school then our community becomes healthier and stronger.

2 – Since this is not my expertise, it would be necessary to work with engineers, city planners and figure out the best routes. Surveys of the students would need to happen – who would most likely be the walkers and bikers, where do they live, etc.   Perhaps it would be a combination of morning and afternoon shuttles combined with paths designated for walking and biking.  This would be a wonderful addition for the community; however, to do it properly it would take time.

3 – Other ideas:

* Students could receive partial credit in gym for walking or biking to school a certain number of times during the semester

*Set up biking and walking clubs – these could encompass all different levels, ie. intergenerational, beginners, race walkers, etc.

*Working with the hospital, grocery stores and insurance to promote different activities that introduce people to this lifestyle.  

There are many communities striving to do the same – looking into what has been done and what is being done in similar communities would allow us to share ideas and not always have to come up with new ideas.

 

 

John Rowe

  1. I support infrastructure that promotes biking and walking for our community.  We would benefit physically, financially, and environmentally from more biking and walking.  Theoretically, more foot travel options would lighten the load on busing and allow parents more flexibility in work schedules.   Although the high school move had many vocal proponents, I’m sure we can all agree that foot travel was the big loser in that arrangement.  Personally, I used to use sidewalks and the BVRA Rail Trail to get to work for years while I lived in Linntown.  Now, I bike when I don’t have to transport my children. 
  2. Whatever I could!  I am learning more about my position on the school board.  I am hoping to have time to chat with some friends about how I could be the most helpful to supporting the community. 
  3. Well, between my own restless leg syndrome and my employment, I’m always interested in folks having the option of staying active instead of being sedentary.  I’m excited about keeping my Gymnastics Program local and am committed to keeping my small business in the borough to allow for as much foot traffic as I can.  

 

 

Mary Ann Sigler Stanton

1. We all benefit from a community that provides walking and biking access throughout.  From a health perspective alone the Rail Trail has likely increased residents’ physical activity substantially, and has the added bonus of providing a safe motor-vehicle free option. I was able to walk to school when I attended LAHS and I loved the freedom it gave me as a teenager.  Our society has become too sedentary, and when we make it easier for residents to get from Point A to Point B on foot or by bike, we do ourselves as a community a service. Additionally, every time we use foot power to travel through the area, we help to negate the effects of fuel and traffic that our vehicle would ordinarily provide. Win-Win!

2. As a parent, this is, of course, an area of great concern to me and I am sure many of you. I drive my daughter to school every morning, and every morning, I see the same two or three students walking to the high school.  Very narrow shoulders compounded by a lot of traffic and decreased visibility depending on the weather make for very dangerous walking conditions.  On foggy mornings, I have come upon them suddenly, which scares me – for them.  I believe a traffic light at the intersection of William Penn and Newman Road should be seriously considered, and I have requested the traffic study from Kelly Township to that end.  I would (whether elected to the LAHS School Board or not) actively support efforts by the BVRA or any other organization to build a LAHS branch off of the rail trail. I’d love to see a LOT more than two or three students walking and biking to school, but currently, that is just not a safe option.

3. I’ve incorporated walking pretty thoroughly into my life, as it is really the most accessible and convenient form of exercise available to me. When my kids are at soccer practice, I walk. When we arrive early for a game, I walk. I take my dog Hazel to the dog-park or on-leash on the rail trail regularly. I walk during my lunchtime at work, and try to walk to all of my meetings, usually regardless of weather. It’s meant keeping practical footwear and rain gear on hand, but I made a life-change regarding this about three years ago, and now parking far away and walking whenever I can is my go-to, not an exception.  I feel fortunate that I have these options available to me in Lewisburg, but I would certainly like to see them expanded beyond the borough and the rail trail. I would be a proponent of championing such everyday options to improve well-being.

 

Mary Howe

  1. Increased walkability-bikeability increases personal and public health. It also increases personal safety for students because they become more familiar with their immediate environment.
  2. My first step would be to identify those neighborhoods for which safe walking/biking routes could be developed. I suspect there are many neighborhoods in the district for which safe walking/biking routes are not realistic.
  3. Prolonged programs that promote active or public transportation could motivate students to use these modes more regularly. For example, a month-long event in which students record their mode of transportation to school could be designed to celebrate kids for repeatedly using the bus or walking/biking to school. 

 

Virginia Zimmerman

1 – Everyone benefits from a walkable and bikeable community. In an age of step-counting and general mindfulness of health and wellness, many people seek ways to integrate physical exercise into their daily routines. Walking or biking to school or work, as well as on errands and for recreation, is a great way to increase physical activity.

     In addition, not being reliant on motorized transportation promotes independence, especially for young people and others unable to drive. If they can walk or bike to and from school or to and from activities, they will have added flexibility. For example, if walking and biking are safe options, a student who doesn’t need to rely on the bus can more easily stay after school to ask a teacher for extra help, a group of students working on a project can meet together on a weekend even if the group members don’t have someone who can drive them, and a parent who doesn’t drive can make it to school for conferences and performances.

     Further, all residents benefit from a walkable and bikeable community because of the environmental impact of fewer cars on the road. With so many trucks passing through Lewisburg now and for the foreseeable future, minimizing vehicular traffic is in everyone’s best interest. Minimizing pollution is in the planet’s best interest.

2 – As a parent, I have experienced both high school buildings: when my son was a student at the downtown high school, he walked or biked to school, to early-morning band practice, and to after-school events; at the new high school, he drives every day and often makes multiple trips to school each day. If elected to the School Board, I would definitely advocate for any structural improvements that would make biking and walking possible.

     I will list here some suggestions, but I must be clear that I have not researched the legal and logistical feasibility of any of these. I offer the list to show I am open to considering a range of ways to make biking and walking to the high school safe. I am eager to learn from those who have already invested considerable time in researching the best options. That said, some of my ideas include: a four-way stop and safe crossing at River Rd. and Rte. 15, bike lanes and/or sidewalks added to all roads leading from Rte. 15 and Rte. 45 to the high school, and a lowered speed limit on Newman Rd. I’ve long fantasized about over or underpasses that would make crossing Rte. 15 safer, and I know there are lots of barriers to a massive structural project like this, but I would certainly be a strong advocate if such a project were possible. I have also wondered if it might be more affordable and equally safe to employ crossing guards at key intersections during the hours when children travel to and from school.

3 – I mention above the possibility of hiring a crossing guard to help students cross safely at key intersections, such as Rte. 45 and Rte. 15. I realize this may be expensive, but even if the service were only provided one day per week, it would still make active transportation more available than it is now. I’m thinking of something along the lines of “Active Mondays,” or some such. Traveling to school on foot or by bike once per week would definitely raise awareness of the advantages of active transportation for the whole community and could be a first-step toward more challenging structural changes.

     One structural change that may not be too challenging is the implementation of a shuttle service paired with generous bike parking spaces so that people can bike (or walk) along safe routes and then take public transportation onward. This may not help school students for whom busing is already an option, but it could make active transportation more attractive and feasible for community residents.

     Finally, and most feasibly, I would love to see a pamphlet and/or website that includes a map clearly showing the safest crossings and reminds pedestrians, bikers, and drivers of the relevant laws as well as best practices for safety.