Small towns are all over the map when it comes to pedestrian and bicycle friendly elements: Some are lined with sidewalks, benches, bike lanes — while others don’t offer a single crosswalk.
When you consider that those who live in small towns do not typically have in-town access to exercise facilities — such as a YMCA, a skate park, bicycle trails — it makes sense for towns to create an environment for families, children, the elderly, to have safe places to walk, exercise and socialize.
This was exactly the thinking behind Troy’s recent adoption of a “Complete Streets” policy. The tiny town now has a policy in place to consider all of its 2,145 residents — not just motorized vehicles — when improving roadways.
Troy is the third town in the Monadnock Region to adopt a Complete Streets policy; Keene and Swanzey also have Complete Streets policies in place.
Sidewalks Inspire Town
Five years ago Troy received a “Safe Routes to School” grant to build sidewalks for children to walk to school. Town officials immediately saw the benefits of getting foot traffic off busy roads and wanted to extend these benefits to the general population of the town, including connecting the town’s new community center to the downtown area.
The biggest worry, say town officials, were the young moms out with their baby carriages; many were walking out in the roadways because of the lack of sidewalks.
The challenges were resolved by creating a Troy Complete Streets Planning and Design Guidelines. Town selectmen adopted the policy in July 2016, which includes guidelines for all relevant town departments and boards to consult the Guidelines when working on streets in town. The town will also encourage partners, such as the N.H. Department of Transportation to implement Complete Streets elements when improving state roads in town.
New Ideas to Make Roads Safe
As a result of this policy, Troy officials now have concrete guidelines that will encourage townspeople and officials to consider the safety of more than cars, motorcycles and trucks on their roads.
The newly-approved Troy Complete Streets Planning and Design Guidelines has sparked creative ideas to slow down traffic on busy Route 12 that intersects the town.
While drivers may not pay attention to a boring 25 MPH speed limit sign, they will read a “Children at Play” or humorous signs. The town is considering installing eye-catching signs to get drivers to pay attention to the “25 MPH” signs, including signage that says “Slow: Children Playing with Dogs Ahead,” and “Slow Down for Chickens.”
Any new road projects that come up must take the Guidelines into consideration and be discussed among townspeople at the yearly Town Meeting in March.
The ongoing concern would be how this new policy will be perceived by townspeople, who may fear the extra cost of Complete Streets elements including extra sidewalks, sharrows, crosswalks, etc.
While some residents may not understand the “Complete Streets” concept and fear the cost … explaining how it will help build community and keep everyone safe increases the chances for buy in.
Plus, town officials plan to apply for grants to help offset costs, and to spread any improvements out over time to make it affordable to residents.
As Tom Matson, the chair of Troy’s Board of Selectman put it: “We only have 19 miles of road in Troy. It is an achievable goal to have all streets fall under Complete Streets. To hit it can take 20-30 years, but as long as written in a policy, I think it can be accomplished.”