Passage of a new pedestrian safety resolution marks a cultural shift in how Amberley Village (a WeTHRIVE! community) views its streets. “The resolution ensures that whenever a street or road improvement project is undertaken, there will be an evaluation of safety features from a pedestrian point of view,” said Natalie Wolf, Amberley’s vice mayor and chair of the Health, Education & Welfare Committee.
Pedestrian safety is an important part of health in communities like Amberley, where many amenities are within walking or biking distance. Getting to French Park, the JCC, synagogues, or the village walking trail shouldn’t mean a car ride. But with few sidewalks and little shoulder space on busy roads, walking or biking isn’t a safe option.
The Health, Education, & Welfare Committee worked for two years to get the resolution passed. Initially, there was push back when talk of sidewalks and traffic lights came up. But younger, more active families want to walk and bike. “The whole culture of Amberley has changed in terms of desiring safe streets to walk on,” Natalie said.
Another important piece of the pedestrian safety puzzle is Amberley’s large Orthodox Jewish population. “On Sabbath, starting on Friday at sundown and ending Saturday evening, they are not permitted to drive,” Natalie said. “So they are walking to synagogue, making it even more imperative that we have safe streets in Amberley.” When Police Chief Rich Wallace learned about this, he made reflective sashes available at no cost to residents (read more about Chief Wallace’s efforts here).
This has led to a discussion about the lack of amenities within walking distance of the area where the Orthodox Jewish population resides. “We don’t have a playground within a mile and a half of where they live,” Natalie noted. “So now we are talking about how do we make our village even more walkable by including an amenity, maybe a park or playground that is within walking distance.”
“Wherever you live in the village, there should be somewhere you can walk to, some sort of amenity,” Natalie said. “These are all things that can make Amberley more livable.” This kind of thinking is just one of the things that makes Amberley Village THRIVE!