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Kennett can begin to get its greenways by becoming better at sharing its roads

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Measures to reduce speed can make local roads with low traffic volumes much more comfortable for those walking and cycling, and at remarkably low cost

Part of Chester County's charm lies in its narrow, quiet roads winding through its farms and forests. And so it is no surprise to find dozens of Kennett residents walking or cycling along these roads each day. The problem? Drivers who like to speed - especially around curves - make others thinking about walking or cycling on these roads worry about their safety.

One solution is to identify how we might begin to slow or "calm" traffic, and one such design is the Yield Roadway, described in greater detail here. In sum, Yield Roadways are local roads with low speeds, low volumes, and no centerline. The absence of centerlines naturally calms traffic by lowering speeds and increasing the vigilance of drivers. Yield Roadways also give drivers more freedom to shift into the opposite lane to give cyclists and pedestrians more room, and thus help them to feel more comfortable . Yield Roadways can use carefully placed speed cushions and other measures to calm traffic as needed. They can even incorporate dashed lines to suggest edge lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, increasing their comfort further still. You can see what it would look like in practice through our interactive storymap.

It is clear that these designs have tremendous potential to bring immediate benefits to Kennett at remarkably little cost. For example, we have begun discussions with residents about the Fair Mills Loop, a 3 mile route that could offer hundreds of households a beautiful route for walking or biking for recreation, exercise, or to access Kennett's newest 160 preserve at Spar Hill Farm. And we have presented a detailed technical analysis of the potential for a Yield Roadway on Chandler Mill. This potentially saves millions of dollars, prevent the destruction of hundreds of trees, preserves sensitive streambank habitats, and makes it unnecessary for Kennett to seize private land.

Over the past several months, we have introduced this option to residents. and in upcoming posts we will address the questions they most often ask: Will everyone really feel comfortable on these routes? Are these really safe? We hope that other posts can help residents become excited by our research-based, public health model captured in Kennett Outdoors: what kinds of paths, trails, and routes does Kennett have to develop to meet the Healthy Outdoor goals of its residents? Better yet? A Yield Roadway is just one of several low-cost high impact designs in a future Kennett Greenways network. Stay tuned!

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