Responding to Truck Traffic in Lewisburg

Walk It! Bike It! Lewisburg joins the chorus of people calling for a response to the increase in truck traffic in Lewisburg arising from road construction detours elsewhere in the Valley.  Rather than telling others, whether PennDOT or municipal officials or trucking companies, what they should do, we have some recommendations for what we can all do ourselves, right now!

This article was sent to local papers recently and appeared as a My Turn column in the Sunday Item (Daily Item’s Sunday edition) on October 7.  The signatories to the letter were misidentified simply as members of Walk It! Bike It!, but we’ll take it!  We are a community group with many participants.  Anyone is welcome.  We have regular monthly meetings both a morning option (8am on the first Friday of the month at the Borough Building) and an evening option (7:30pm on the third Thursday of the month, usually at Giant, but this October 18, we’ll be at Earl’s Bicycle Store instead).  We welcome others to join us in our efforts to support walking and biking in the Lewisburg area.  Anyone who lives, works, owns a business in or owns property in the greater Lewisburg area is welcome.  Our core focus is on supporting walking within a one-mile radius of the 15/45 intersection and supporting biking within a five-mile radius.  If you can’t join us in person, feel free to check us out virtually:  look for Walk It Bike It Lewisburg on facebook and follow OnTheRiverLburg on Instagram and twitter.

Northumberland is wrapped up in major road construction these days. Residents there are usually plagued by incessant truck traffic. And now Lewisburg residents feel their pain, as that traffic detours through our downtown on Market Street/Route 45. Apparently this can be expected to continue for the next two years!  

In Lewisburg there have been meetings and accusations and gnashing of teeth over this. Of course, PennDOT cannot restrict those trucks from using Route 45 which is part of the state highway system.  This is not our objective. But we do want everyone to obey the law. While we appreciate the Buffalo Valley Regional Police stepping up enforcement, we know this will not have a major impact on the traffic. They can’t be there 24/7 and the vast majority of the trucks are properly licensed and operating legally. We also understand that driving through our downtown is the most economical route for many truckers and recognize they play an important role in the economy. We are just concerned about safety. 

So what can we do? 

Walk it! Bike it! Lewisburg recommends we all Walk the Walk and Drive the Drive for safer streets:

  • First, let’s all drive so that we are able to yield and stop at any time. This means driving slowly, alertly, intentionally, and with enough following distance, even at slow speeds, to be able to yield for waiting pedestrians in the crosswalk. Following distance behind trucks should be even greater to ensure you can see traffic lights or pedestrians ahead. Remember, it is a state law to yield to a pedestrian at an unsignalized crosswalk. Let’s commit to this. 
  • Second, conversely, when we are pedestrians, let’s not cross in the middle of the street. We can all commit to both using crosswalks when we walk and stopping for each other in the (unsignalized) crosswalks when we drive. This will help change the road culture in town. And the locals doing it will carry the message that it’s the norm to any drivers just passing through.
  • Third, we can all make a point of driving more cautiously/slowly as soon as we enter the community: whether you’re crossing the bridge from Montandon, coming in on River Road north of town, crossing the railroad tracks south of town, or coming in off Route 15. Or, for that matter, whenever you enter any community…
  • Fourth, consider the “Twenty Is Plenty” campaign. While the maximum speed limit is 25 mph in town, nothing says we can’t go a bit slower for safety! Some will say that it’s hard to drive that slow, but it seems it just takes a little bit of practice. If we drive slowly and avoid running red lights or blocking intersections, those behind us will too! (Please note that when you are going 25mph or less, you are simply not going to “make the light.” Yellow lights are 3 to 5 seconds long by law, no matter where. Especially at lower speeds, when it takes you so much longer to clear the intersection, yellow means prepare to stop!)
  • Fifth, whenever possible, choose to walk or bike. Downtown Lewisburg and Bucknell are accessible locations for many people, and every car taken off the road lessens traffic around town.

We are so afraid that it will take a tragedy for all of us to act just a bit more responsibly. Please join us as we Walk the Walk and Drive the Drive for safer streets. We — and Lewisburg’s children — thank you!

Signed,

Walk It! Bike It! Lewisburg – a community group working to encourage and promote walking and biking in the Lewisburg area – walkitbikeit.org

Lewisburg Borough Residents:  Bud Hiller, Jackie Kelly, Meg Martin, Samantha Pearson, Alison Warner, Kim Wheeler, Megan Wolleben

East Buffalo Township residents:  Sue Auman, Sarah Bell, Carol Coldren, Cookie Connolly, Mary Hague, Kathi Hannaford, Rachel Martine