New path connects recreation sites in Scranton
Throughout downtown Scranton red footprints in the shape of lightbulbs illuminate paths to walk and bike through the city.
"Part of the what made our community so great, back in the day, was that everything was really localized," said Gus Fahey, president of Valley in Motion. "You were near your school, your church, your stores where you did shopping, your family."
This summer, Valley in Motion, a nonprofit, released a map that proposed new biking and walking paths to connect different areas of the city.
On Friday, Oct. 28, Fahey and Alyssa Kelley, project manager for the organization, painted directional footprints on sidewalks along Lackawanna Avenue. The stenciled prints create an around 2-mile urban trail system called Electric City Trails. The trails connect downtown Scranton with key public recreation sites like the Iron Furnaces, the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail and Nay Aug Park.
Those paths are the first stage of an effort to make the historic Iron Furnaces on Cedar Avenue the intersection of city life again, Fahey said. The painted footprints and future signs are also a low cost way to get people to walk and bike more.
“They ... direct people and get people in these patterns, so that you build a constituency for walking and biking," he said.
Valley in Motion is a community improvement organization whose goal is to build up the quality of life and community in Northeast Pennsylvania. The nonprofit partnered with many local organizations on the project including the city and Lackawanna County, the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Association and the University of Scranton.
“It's really a coalition of organizations trying to make this happen, which is appropriate, since it's all about connectivity," said Kelley. "We're using existing infrastructure, existing amenities, existing locations, and really just connecting them highlighting them.”
Increasing biking and walking in Scranton draws from the organization’s research into Blue Zones, which finds people are happiest when they're close and connected with others, said Fahey. The Blue Zones concept was created by best-selling author and journalist, Dan Buettner. He studied regions around the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives.
“You're healthier if you have this infrastructure that that you can use to safely walk and bike to places that you use in your daily life," said Fahey. "It helps to reinforce connections on an individual level and then on a community level.”