Bike path improvements in the works

With spring around the corner, the coming weeks are likely to bring one particular issue to the front of our collective minds in Cherry Hill. More and more, residents and commuters will start leaving their cars at home, and instead will choose to bike — or maybe even walk — to their destinations.

Unfortunately — and if you’re one of these people, I’m sure you know it all too well — in some parts of town, walking or biking conjures images of weaving through traffic, dodging cars, buses and other hazards all the way from Point A to Point B.

It’s with that picture in mind that I’d like to share some good news my office recently received from the state’s Department of Transportation. Cherry Hill has been chosen to participate in a state program that gives municipalities assistance in developing a comprehensive plan to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety across town.

Over the next several months, the community planners here in Town Hall will work with the DOT’s Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs and an appointed consultant to pinpoint the Township’s outstanding needs and potential improvements, and then put together a plan for implementation.

As a resident of this town for more than 45 years, I’ve watched Cherry Hill transform itself from a sleepy, rural community into the bustling suburban hub it is today. But with that growth has come an expanded, congested road system — one designed and built with one main mode of transportation in mind: the automobile.

Nevertheless, a significant portion of our population continues to enjoy alternative, non-motorized transportation, and it has long been a priority for my administration to create a plan to makes traveling safer and easier for these individuals.

Through this program, I hope to step back and take a look at a number of issues, including safety concerns around our schools; improving access to public transportation; pinpointing and clearly labeling the ideal locations for biking and walking; and increasing the public’s knowledge of pedestrian and bicycle safety education.

Throughout this process, I hope to enlist the assistance and expertise of the “Way To Go” committee — a bicycle/pedestrian group that was formed through Sustainable Cherry Hill.

Throughout the last five years, SCH has been an invaluable partner in our numerous sustainability initiatives.

But while increasing bike and pedestrian mobility will benefit our environment, safety is always our top priority, and this is just the latest step in improving that safety in our community.

For example, just last year, Cherry Hill installed or upgraded about 4,500 linear feet of pedestrian crosswalks in our neighborhoods and outside our Swim Clubs and other heavily traveled areas.

We’ve posted “Share the Road” signs, and installed bicycle-safe sewer grates along Kresson Road, one area that is heavily used by cyclists. Additionally, the Cherry Hill Police Department has invested in and posted electronic speed boards on several streets in an effort to curb speeding in documented problem areas.

My ultimate goal as Mayor is to help make Cherry Hill both a safer and a more sustainable community for both our residents and our businesses.

We’ve made a great deal of progress on this front during my administration, but there is always more work to be done.

I’m confident that this plan will allow our community to remain proactive in continuing to address the community’s needs, and I look forward to sharing each new development with all of you in the months ahead.

Bernie Platt is the mayor of Cherry Hill. He can be reached at 488–7878 or mayorplatt@chtownship.com.