Gadfly’s tail crosses the Trail’s finish line

logo Latest in a series of posts on Walkability and Bikeability logo

Gadfly finished the 5-month Tail on the Trail challenge yesterday.

His goal was to double the 165-mile basic challenge.


He did most of his short-spurt walking on the D&L Trail between Freemansburg on the east and Kimmett’s Lock on the west.

He looks forward to a pedestrian bridge into the Southside — with a pit stop.

In the Capital Plan we saw in the last post, there is thought to expanding the Greenway a bit farther south.

Gadfly does his longer walking in “training” for the 1/2 Marathon mostly on the Saucon Trail. Last Sunday he walked on it as far toward Bethlehem as he could.

And said a prayer.

Please let him live to see the connection from Burnside close to Gadville, down to Sand Island, across the pedestrian bridge, onto the Greenway, and all the way to Coopersburg.

Bucket list #4.

What a recreational resource we have.

Tail 1

Tail 7

“We have to have public transportation available”

logo58th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatrelogo

When was the last time you took a bus?

Maybe the better question is, have you ever taken a bus?

Not only are we not quite a walking community, but we are not a viable public transportation community either as well.

Silagh White laments.

  • “How many people drove their car here tonight?”
  • “One of the things that is part of the divide is accessible public transportation.”
  • “I would love to take public transportation; it does not work for my life.”
  • ‘If you have not been listening to what the kids are saying about our future, and we don’t start changing our own personal behaviors, we are just as much a part of the problem.”
  • “But it’s impossible to change our behaviors if we don’t have the opportunity to do that as a society .”
  • “We have to do more; we have to have public transportation available, so that the food deserts don’t mean as much any more — people can actually get to places.”

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

“What I see happening isn’t really promoting a walkable community”

logo57th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatrelogo

He confessed it. Total admission. Put it right out there. No hiding.

“I love to walk.”

That was Wally Trimble at the “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers” event.

“Hear, Hear,” a flock of Gadfly followers assented, “We’ll drink to that!”

Much on our minds on this blog.

But a ways to go, says Wally.

  • “I love to walk.”
  • “I wish it were a more walkable community.”
  • “We have a great trail system . . .”
  • “Our crosswalks seem designed as kill zones.”
  • “There are a lot of really dangerous places . . . “
  • “The best way to see [our] neighborhoods is to walk.”
  • “It makes us feel better just to talk with a stranger.”
  • “If everybody was out walking around and talking with each other . . .”
  • “What I see happening isn’t really promoting a walkable community.”

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

Gadfly’s last lap Tail on the Trail report

(Latest in a series of posts on Walkability and Bikeability)

Gadfly has been using you followers for accountability.

Reporting again on his progress in the Tail on the Trail Challenge.

His goal is to double the basic challenge of 165 miles (the length of the Delaware and Lehigh canal) in the 6 months between May 1 and November 1 = 330 miles.

5 months now gone.

Gadfly has done 313 miles with almost a month to go.

Gonna make the goal with plenty to spare.

Tail 6

Now Gadfly also plans the Delaware & Lehigh Half Marathon November 3.

Training-wise, he’s up to 9 miles.

And an inch shorter.

Festival UnBound
Ten days of original theatre, dance, music, art and conversation designed to celebrate and imagine our future together!
October 4-13

Sharing your reading: finishing off Speck

(7th in a series about sharing your reading)
(and also relates to walkability)

If you aren’t reading, you may not be thinking. If you aren’t reading, you may not be growing. What are you reading these days? How about sharing with us? Gadfly invites you to share a few clips of your reading  — with or without comment — or a few thoughts from your reading pertinent to the Gadfly project of the good conversation about Bethlehem that builds community.

Notes from the back of the RCN bill envelope Gadfly used as a page marker for Jeff Speck’s, Walkability Rules (2018):

— “Where nobody walks, nobody supervises the public realm, and nobody gets to know their neighbors.”

— “It is only when we are outside of vehicles, and relatively safe from them, that the bonds of community can form.”

— “In well designed neighborhoods, the most convenient playground is no more than a five-minute walk away.”

— “City leaders . . . ask the wrong question about parking, which is, ‘how can we have enough of it?’ Nobody seemed to be asking the proper question: ‘how can parking be planned, provided, and managed to help cities thrive?'”

— Think about bus routes. Are there places the buses can’t take us but should? Gadfly thought about recreation areas. Should we have a bus that goes to Sand Island, for instance?

— “Bus frequency is key to ridership.” Every 10 minutes is comfort zone. Gadfly’s bus to work was every half-hour. It did feel a strain. “Removal of uncertainty [by more frequency] makes the wait more bearable.”

— Gadfly thought the bus rides themselves uncomfortable. Buses should be “more focused on hospitality than efficiency.” Wow!

— “Two-way [street] reversions are sweeping the nation.” Center? Linden? Always talk, no action.

— More timely bus service to New York? Phila? — how’s regional bus service from North St garage working out?

— “The more lanes a street has [or the wider it is], the more it feels like a highway.” Why is West Broad Street so broad? It’s a mini-MacArthur road situation. Could anything interesting be done there for beauty, for walkability? Something in the center?

— Speck cites Wyandotte St — the way the traffic pattern there killed the shops along the east side. Sad. Anything to be done?

— “Biking popularity is primarily a function of biking investment.” Gadfly knows the City has tried things over the years. Not much success?

— Gadfly idea: if we wanted to nudge a resurgence in biking, how about a program starting with kids biking to school where possible. Would mean protected lanes etc from neighborhoods to the schools. Let’s say a mile radius from William Penn.

— “Creating car-free streets and zones in our towns and cities must be a goal and even a priority if we truly value walkability.”

— “A great pedestrian mall lets you sit down for a drink while the children roam.”

— the “pedestrian scramble” intersection — Wheee!

— “Put street trees almost everywhere.”

— street trees: “almost always central  to making sidewalks safe, healthy, comfortable, and sustainable.”

— Thinking about trees/sidewalks made Gadfly think about streets in his childhood neighborhoods that were interesting to walk because of outside displays of wares. Pedestrians would stroll and linger. Has that kind of thing disappeared?

— “Park Day” — 3rd Friday in September — that would be September 20 — “people around the world reclaim parking spaces for humans, transforming what would normally be automobile storage places into places for hanging out.”

— What the word bankrupt means to developers: “I’ll make less money than I promised my investors.”

— “Pedestrians demand to be entertained.”

— “Exposed parking structures and blank walls must be kept away from would-be walkable areas.”

— ” public artwork can be a great remedial tool for salvaging problem areas from . . . ‘the great blight of dullness’.”

— “Active facades provide the street with interest and energy.”

— “Most retail facades should have some sort of awning. The goal is to blur the distinction between the shop and the sidewalk.”

— Got Gadfly thinking of unused or underutilized public spaces — and Payrow Plaza came to mind. Cf. what the Health  Dept Kristen Weinrich just did with that as recently reported here. Any other spaces come to mind that could be enlivened?

Wow! Gadfly thought a lot, grew a lot from reading Speck. Tip o’ the hat to Tony Hanna again for the recommendation.

What’s in your wallet, er, home library or on your bed-stand?

Walking works. Except on MacArthur Road. Maybe.

(29th in a series of posts on Walkability and Bikeability)

“Right now, we can’t get people across MacArthur Road. I don’t know how to do it.”

The headline in the print edition was “Whitehall envisions dramatic changes for MacArthur Road.”

What changes, you ask?

Making it more pedestrian friendly.

You gotta be kidding!

But even thinking about it tells you where the world is heading.

“Can we improve public health through innovative transportation design?  We know we can, and you can help,” says the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. “Come talk about it at our next Planning + Pizza session at 12 pm Sept. 11. We’ll be discussing our WalkWorks project, done being through the University of Pittsburgh and PA Department of Health and how we can work together to improve public health through design.”

MacArthur Road

Tom Shortell, “Dramatic changes in mind for MacArthur Road that could change how Lehigh Valley lives, works and shops.” Morning Call, September 8, 2019.

Side by side, two women stroll through a crosswalk in a bustling shopping district. Behind them, a LANTA bus picks up passengers from a covered shelter. Trees shade two cyclists as they ride in a bike lane separated from four car lanes and two bus lanes. Pedestrians outnumber motor vehicles. Few Lehigh Valley readers would identify this scene included in a new regional report if not for the title at the top of the image — MacArthur Road.

Officials with Whitehall Township and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission acknowledged the image may not ever be a realistic vision of the region’s commercial heart and one of its most unwelcoming roads to pedestrians.

“The world is changing, and we are going to have to evolve or we’re goIng to die,” Whitehall Township Mayor Michael Harakal said in a recent interview. “We are working to try and re-envision the future.”

The FutureLV report by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission is encouraging municipalities to rethink their commercial corridors and how they develop their communities. Key among those steps is making areas more pedestrian friendly, which could reduce congestion and promote healthier lifestyles.

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and PennDOT have placed a greater emphasis on making communities more accessible in recent years, with the planning commission taking stock of bike paths, walking trails and sidewalks for an ongoing pedestrian and cycling trail study.

“Right now, we can’t get people across MacArthur Road. I don’t know how to do it,” Harakal said.

Making community centers accessible without the use of cars is a strategy proposed as part of the FutureLV report.

This ‘n that from the Gadfly clipping file

From the clipping file:

This article caught Gadfly’s eye. We are studying the feasibility of a pedestrian bridge to connect the Greenway, Saucon Trail, D&L Trails. Such things often need to be justified  through economic benefit. Here is some evidence.

Anthony Salamone, “Saucon Rail Trail helped Lehigh Valley businesses; they want to return the favor, give people more walking trails, green spaces.” Morning Call, September 3, 2019.

After officials opened portions of the Saucon Rail Trail along Water Street Park in 2011, Hellertown business owner Steve LaBrake noticed changes. Some were expected: His Saucon Valley Bikes store on Main Street saw a 30% increase in sales during the year after the trail opened, and business has remained healthy since, he said.

He also began noticing people were buying baskets for his bikes so they could patronize the borough farmers market, and that restaurants and other local retail merchants were also reaping benefits.

“It’s cool to see what the rail trail has done for the community,” LaBrake said.


Payrow Plaza

WLVT photo

Are you getting tired of hearing Gadfly talking about his reading the Jeff Speck books on walkability. Forsooth, they were a source of many ideas. He was using an old RCN bill envelope as a page marker, jotting down ideas. Speck at one point asked about unused or little used pedestrian spaces that could enhance walkability and street “life.” Gadfly jotted Payrow Plaza. And here we have wonderful use of what Kristen Weinrich saw as “underutilized” space.

Now “Playrow” Plaza.

Can you think of other areas?

Stephen Jiwanmall, “Playrow Plaza: A New Space for Bethlehem Kids.” WLVT, August 27, 2019.

(our follower) Dana Grubb, “Payrow Plaza plots place to play.” Bethlehem Press, September 4, 2019.

The city of Bethlehem has introduced a new play area for children at the city center. It is located on Payrow Plaza between the stairs and south wall and was installed Aug. 27. Health director Kristen Wenrich said the location was underutilized and that the play area, which is stenciled onto the existing paver surface, will provide an activity and learning circuit. Wenrich and chronic disease director Sherri Penchishen led a team of city employees in first laying out the design and then painting the stencil- based activity stations. According to Penchishen, the $6,000 project, which is funded using chronic disease grant, has been in the works for several years.