Advocating for Safe Walking
When North York Borough resident Liz Eisenhart made the decision to stop driving due to a decline in vision, she knew she didn’t want it to keep her from participating in the activities she enjoyed, which included workouts at Curves.
Fortunately, a N. George Street rabbittransit bus stop was only a short walk from her home, which made taking the bus to Curves very easy. But coming home from Curves wasn’t as convenient. The bus dropped her off on the opposite side of the busy street, which meant she needed to cross N. George at 6th Avenue, which lacked both a cross-walk and traffic light. This is when Liz began advocating for improvements in walkability in her neighborhood.
She phoned the council president and learned it’s not as simple as painting a cross-walk, it also needs to be handicap accessible.
They say timing is everything, and that’s the case with Liz’s story. As she researched this concern, she learned about several community initiatives occurring to help support the need for a safe place to cross the street.
York County Planning Commission shared the city was making plans to improve walkability from George Street to Parkway. While attending an OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) class at Penn State York, she heard about Healthy York County Coalition’s York County Walks and the importance of pedestrians speaking up to improve walkability. She also learned of a rabbittransit assessment to identify barriers to accessibility in the community.
Using this information, Liz went to a North York Borough Council meeting and made a presentation to request a cross-walk at the N. George and 6th Avenue location. Liz continued her advocacy by attending subsequent council meetings, asking at each meeting for updates to ensure this need remained in front of the Council.
Liz’s diligence paid off. In April 2018, a report of the extensive changes to the George Street/Parkway area was announced, and it includes a cross-walk/handicap accessible curb cut-out at 6th Avenue. Improvements are to begin in the fall 2018.
Since starting her advocacy, Liz made the decision to move into independent living at Normandie Ridge, so she won’t directly benefit from her advocacy in North York, yet she’s thrilled she did it and encourages others to speak up for ways to make a community safer and more age-friendly. As for Liz, she’s already thinking of what her next crusade will be.
We wish Liz the very best and thank her for sharing her story and being a role model to embracing aging!
YCCF’s Managing Director of Embracing Aging, Cathy Bollinger, is available to speak locally, regionally and nationally on a variety of topics, including creating age-friendly communities and dismantling ageism. Click here to learn more.