Getting on the Right List for Active Transportation

by Gary Shaffer

When we were young, and as I think about it, not so young, my sisters, brother, and I routinely experienced my mother’s somewhat intimidating threat of punishment. That was the threat of being “scratched off her list” if we didn’t cease whatever we were doing that was annoying her at that time.

We were never sure exactly what the list entailed or promised, but we knew when we were pushing the limits with our behavior that the ultimatum would come down: “Keep it up, and I’ll be scratching your name off my list.” As I noted, never quite knowing the entire purpose of the list, especially when we were very young, we were still smart enough to figure out that it was more desirable to be “on the list” than “scratched off.” So, we would do what was expected to remain on that mysterious list. I’m certain that we can all think of numerous lists that we don’t want to be on and other lists that are important to be on, which brings me to the purpose of this article regarding the importance of getting on certain lists as a key part of advocating for bikeable communities and walkable towns.

Two recent Gettysburg Times articles by Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI) presented important summaries of our work already underway and our goal of impacting future development in Adams County. In her article published on Feb. 22, President Sarah Kipp listed the HABPI projects getting our attention and support in 2024. One of the projects noted is the Boyd’s School Road Trail, which has had HABPI support for some time. There has been additional interest in getting a trail from the stores and development east of town, including Walmart, Giant, etc., into the neighborhoods around the high school and consequently into town. The amount of interest that has been expressed indicates this possibility of a walking/biking trail has been on several “lists” of good ideas. Walking and biking along Route 30 east of Gettysburg is not a pleasant experience, no matter how broad the shoulders are, and walking or biking Boyd’s School Road is no better. Yet there are neighborhoods, an elementary school, a high school, county offices and churches that could benefit from safer pathways for cyclists and pedestrians. The importance of a safer path for students walking or biking along Boyd’s School Road can’t be overemphasized. This improvement should be on everybody’s list of good ideas. We need to work to keep it on the active project lists of all municipalities or government and community entities involved. Another project Sarah listed, an excellent idea that should be on every list of desirable improvements, is the possible rail trail from Littlestown to Taneytown, using a currently abandoned railroad right-of-way and track bed. Understanding that significant obstacles exist, this dream project should still be on every list of desirable projects for Littlestown, Germany Township, southern Adams County, northern Maryland and Taneytown. Like many good ideas that need attention, with careful actions now and again, if it doesn’t stay on our “to-do list,” it may languish or be forgotten.

In an article published Dec. 21, 2023, Board Vice President Eric Meyer highlighted some language that municipal planning commissions could add to their “lists” of desirable improvements to be included by the developers of new residential, retail and commercial projects. There is great interest in making sure that the plans can accommodate all the automobile traffic that may be generated, to the point that parking lots and roadways are often excessive and wider than necessary, usually to the detriment of residents who could have comfortably walked or biked to the new facilities with more friendly sidewalk and roadway designs. The planning commission members need access to these checklists of community goals supporting pedestrians and bicyclists. The two articles referenced, along with others, can be found on our very user-friendly website, http://www.habpi.com, along with other valuable information.

One other item to add to your “list” of upcoming activities is the date of our Ride for Trails fundraiser which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21. Please join us and pass the date on to friends and family. Thank you for your support for our work and for all your efforts to make our communities walkable and bicycle friendly.

Gary Shaffer is an architect in Gettysburg who has worked on numerous community-building projects with his firm. He is a founding board member for HABPI and has been riding his bicycle around Gettysburg long before that.