Tag: Age Friendly Berkshires

Age-Friendly Walking in the Berkshires

Age-Friendly Walking in the Berkshires


This week, we headed west to the Berkshires! We shared Age-Friendly walking presentations in Cheshire and Great Barrington as part a grant from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation to expand our Age-Friendly efforts across the commonwealth. Thank you to representatives from Councils on Aging in Adams, Dalton, Egremont, Pittsfield, and Williamstown for participating, and thank you to Age Friendly Berkshires and Be Well Berkshires for helping spread the word. We look forward to working together more in the coming months.

Town of Lenox on the move

Town of Lenox on the move

Lenox, in the Berkshires, has just over 5,000 residents.
It is largely rural with a small downtown, parks, public
art, great restaurants, Tanglewood, and The Mount/Edith
Wharton’s Home. In Lenox, you get the small-town vibe
but big-city culture.

Residents want to stay in Lenox as they age. Millennials
across the country are opting to live in traditionally
dense, accessible neighborhoods. So in the past year, Lenox has embraced walkability and adopted
a Complete Streets policy. The process started by
conducting two walk audits with WalkBoston and
working with local partners to install “pop-up” Complete
Street interventions. Working with Age Friendly
Berkshires, the town installed two temporary curb
extensions on Main Street and ordered “WalkYourCity”
signs directing residents and visitors to destinations
such as Tanglewood, Shakespeare and Co., restaurants, and playgrounds.

Getting decision makers and stakeholders into the neighborhood has been a
big “win.” Seeing is believing. The “pop-up” curb extensions were a low-cost
and very effective tool to demonstrate how to slow down car traffic and give
walkers better visibility and more ability to be seen.

During one walk audit, a Board of Selectmen member joined us. Noting an
inaccessible curb ramp, the group stopped to take a look. The Selectmen
asked the Department of Public Works Superintendent and Town Planner to
fix the ramp before the current repaving project ended. It got fixed that week.

Partnerships, walk audits, temporary, low-cost installations all make what
often seem like lofty or challenging goals and solutions, seem doable. You
leverage resources and expertise, and get feedback immediately.

We plan to submit our curb extension project as part of our Complete Streets
Tier III funding request. This project makes the street safer for all users and we
know we have support after testing and educating people about the benefits.

This effort has been positive due to the many partnerships including
WalkBoston, Mass in Motion, Be Well Berkshires, MassDOT Complete Streets
Program, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Age Friendly Berkshires,
the Department of Public Works, and members of the Board of Selectmen.

Gwen Miller is the Land Use Director and Town Planner for Lenox, MA.
This article was featured in WalkBoston’s October 2017 newsletter.

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