By Carson Gerber For the Pharos-Tribune
---- — PERU — Peru officials will begin assessing how to make city streets safer and more accessible to pedestrians after the city council Monday approved a new program called Complete Streets
The Indiana Complete Streets Campaign supports policies that ensure streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders, motorists and people of all ages and abilities, according to its website.
Peru Mayor Jim Walker said he wanted to adopt the new program to ensure safer walking routes for students. He said there are parts of town with no sidewalks and poor lighting, and children walking to school are sometimes required to walk in the street.
He said the program comes into play when the city plans to repair or upgrade a city street. Through the program, part of the street-repair process will include possibly adding sidewalks, bike paths or other upgrades to make streets friendlier to pedestrians.
“Before we do anything to certain streets, we’re going to identify them as complete streets, and think of all the options for those streets before we make a final design,” he said. “It will make them more useable to all — vehicles, walkers or bicyclers.”
Walker said the program will also tie in with the Nickel Plate Trail, which runs directly through the city, and possibly allow an easier and safer bike route through town.
Mark Demchak, executive director of the Miami County YMCA, said he likes the program because it promotes healthy living.
“What really draws me to this kind of policy is the health benefits,” he said.
Demchak cited a 2013 study that listed Miami County as one of the least healthy areas in the state. He said better sidewalks and more bike routes will encourage people to exercise and stay active.
He said it will also make the city more competitive when going after grants and state funding to repair and improve roads.
Walker said the city is currently getting cost estimates on street repairs and upgrades, and taking photos of streets to help The Indiana Complete Streets Campaign assist the city in assessing what areas need the most attention.
The council unanimously approved the new program Monday.
“This whole program is more than what we just want,” said Tom Gustin, District 2 councilman. “It’s what we need.”