GENESEO – The Village came under the precise and critical eye of public health, transportation, and planning consultant Mark Fenton on Thursday as the expert in pedestrian and bicycle improvement evaluated sidewalks, crosswalks, and traffic intersections for safety, character, and convenience to pedestrians and cyclists, in essence their ‘walkability.’
Fenton, an animated, passionate expert in a yellow tie, gave a guided walk of the Village and part of the SUNY Geneseo campus to members of the local community, including Village Trustee Ben Gajewski, Downtown Coordinator Louise Wadsworth, and David Norton, Assistant Director of Facilities Planning and Construction for SUNY Geneseo, citing statistics and examples of improvement programs in other towns with which he has worked across America, and why pedestrian and cyclist accommodations are so critical.
“Our kids and grandkids will be the first generation with statistically shorter lifespans than their parents,” said Fenton. “There are 4,000 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. annually, and 40,000 deaths due to motor vehicle accidents. But the number of people who die of diseases directly linked to inactivity: 400,000.”
On the walk from the county building behind the county courthouse through Main Street, part of the SUNY campus, and the Village, Fenton observed a multitude of insightful details, both positive and negative, about the area’s traffic flow and accommodations for pedestrians and drivers of all kinds.
“You have to look through the eyes of all users,” explained Fenton before the walk. “Think of someone who is blind, or visually impaired, or in a wheelchair, or six years old, or 96 years old.”
Fenton said that he likes the spacious sidewalks by Main Street, which are removed from the road, and the trees that give the walking area great character. He suggests that curb extensions on Main Street could slow traffic near crosswalks and make crossing safer and more efficient, and proposed that multiple high-volume intersections on Rte. 20A need work to slow traffic and make crossing and turning safer.
“This is pretty unfortunate,” said Fenton at the Village Park Veterans’ Memorial. “There are two destination generators here, the 7-11 and the liquor store, and no place to safely cross. Traffic stacks when people go to make left turns.”
Fenton added that 20A headed West toward Main Street exposes pedestrians at the Prospect street crosswalk to traffic headed downhill at high speeds, and a torpedo-shaped island in the road may help to keep drivers alert and under the 30 mph limit going downhill. Fenton said that a traffic circle at the 20A, Temple Hill, Crossett, Groveland Road intersection would also help slow traffic and prevent traffic stacking when making left turns.
Fenton is a consultant with Wendel, a planning and designing company for municipalities, and is working with the Genesee Transportation Council for this project.
PHOTO CAPTION: Top – Fenton talks about sidewalk improvement on Bank Street. Inset top – Fenton positions folks on the tour to explain curb extensions. Bottom: Mark Fenton. (Photo/Conrad Baker)