Town of Brownsburg Blog

Oct 1st, 2015
01:38 PM
about 3 years ago

The topic of livability, and more specifically walkability, comes up in most conversations about what makes a community a great place to live.

Brownsburg’s population has grown by nearly 50 percent over the past 20 years. We know the suburb is attractive to many new residents for its proximity to the city, its small town character, great schools and safe neighborhoods. But we also know that we have to develop new and improved amenities to serve & retain residents. A vital part of that effort is the Active Transportation System for bicycle and pedestrian travel.

The Town and Brownsburg Parks conducted a community survey in 2014 in which more than 80 percent of respondents said creating additional bicycling and pedestrian facilities was of high importance. More than 90 percent said they would bike and walk more if facilities were closer to their homes. The Town’s Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2012 calls for optimizing the local transportation system to not only alleviate traffic congestion by offering an alternative means to access commercial nodes, but to better connect neighborhoods and destinations and provide a safer walking and biking environment. Development of more trails and greenways also increases recreational opportunities and will improve the quality of life and health of residents.

Many growing communities across the country have adopted the strategy of improving walkability as a draw to the community. The reported benefits of walking are not new; it’s common knowledge that we benefit physically when we are active. In a country where suburban sprawl trumps pedestrian oriented neighborhoods and spreads out our communities causing disjointed neighborhoods, it can be difficult to remain active without purposeful scheduling of “workout” time. So as planners look to make the suburbs more livable, communities should be designed with residents in mind which means walkability.  

Health is just one of the many benefits people experience in a walkable community, and it’s an important one as it’s a free activity that can increase personal well-being, longevity, good health and a better attitude and outlook on life. But walkable neighborhoods do more than just offer health benefits. According to the American Journal of Public Health pedestrian oriented neighborhoods also increase individual and collective social capital. Social capital is an umbrella term that measures things like involvement in local government and community trust.

Greater social capital has been linked with better community health, decreased crime rates and even increased economic activity. Essentially, the study found that the more walkable a community, the more social capital experienced. In pedestrian oriented communities that are highly walkable, residents are likely to walk to places such as corner markets, restaurants, schools, places of worship, public parks and other establishments necessary for life. While walking about their neighborhood, residents can interact with their surroundings more regularly and thus feel responsible for their physical community which will increase the success of initiatives meant to support local businesses. Furthermore, by regularly walking in their communities, residents will also interact more frequently with their neighbors creating a denser community network which can increase individual peace of mind, community trust and may decrease crime rates.

To that end, the Town has several trail projects either underway or planned for the near future. The new 4.3-mile trail on East and West Northfield Drive connects Us136 on the east with US136 on the west and links up neighborhoods like Creekside Commons, Northridge, Austin Meadows and Summer Ridge. This will now allow residents from those neighborhoods to safely access the commercial nodes at Northfield Drive and N. Green Street as well as at E. US136 & E. Northfield Drive.

The gateway landscaping project at the N. Green Street/I-74 Interchange will establish a trailhead for a new path planned to go north under I-74 in order to provide access to the neighborhoods to the north including Whittington Estates, Green Street Village and Brownsburg Point Apartments. This gateway will also offer a connection to the future White Lick Creek Greenway that will connect to Arbuckle Acres Park and Williams Park. The ultimate goal of the Greenway is to connect to the B & O Trail and then on to the Town of Avon.


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