Steps that Fairfield can take to Make the Town more Pedestrian and Bicycle Friendly

Walking and biking are healthy ways to get around town, which is one of the main reasons towns should encourage both activities. The obvious steps on how Fairfield, Conn. can make the town more pedestrian and bicycle friendly would be to widen roads to accommodate bike lanes, repair existing sidewalks and install sidewalks and walk lights where they are needed.

Unfortunately, this would never happen due to the cost, but the town could institute programs to incorporate the creation of bicycle lanes and sidewalks, when economically and physically feasible, on any future road work or street work done by town employees.

This would not be terribly costly because materials and workers would already be at the site. For a little more money and a little more time, the town could make each road repair an opportunity to create a safer and friendlier atmosphere for bicyclists and walkers.

There is something, though, that can be done right now and would start being effective immediately. It costs nothing or next to nothing and all the elements are in place to get started immediately.

What is the magic potion that will make Fairfield known for its safe and respectful attitude towards the bicyclists and walkers in town? Education.

There are many people who think bicyclists are supposed to drive on the sidewalks or facing traffic or some who think they are nothing more than irritants on the road, causing cars to slow down to avoid being near them.

Walkers are often thought of as the reason for time wasting stops, road annoyances or ambulatory hazards that keep the real people, drivers, from flying down the Post Road like they want to.

Educating the town on the rights of cyclists and pedestrians, starting in the schools and spreading to civic groups, town clubs and committees and blessed by the elected officials, could kick off a campaign that would remind drivers the roads are not solely theirs, and likewise remind bicyclists and walkers that they must obey the rules of the road just as if they were in a car.

If the community decided this was a worthy cause, it could create a much less hostile and safer driving experience for those in their autos also.

School children could make posters and have contests for slogans. The town could have a Pedestrian Day or Bicyclist Day with activities planned that would be fun for all age groups.

Police could visit schools and put on a program about street safety; they could offer bike safety classes, reward safe walking, or safe bicycling with a bumper sticker.

Charity walks could include a small brochure that states the traffic rules for walkers and the whole town from the senior center to the pre-school classes could work together creating awareness about the dangers and tragedies that can occur when drivers don’t respect bicyclists who don’t respect walkers.

As health conscious people, environmentalists, and penny pinchers take to the road more and more on everything from roller blades to adult tricycles to their own shoe leather, it’s going to become more imperative that we all share the road safely and with a smile or a friendly wave to our neighbors here in the town of Fairfield.