_MG_0289The City of Greenfield, Town of Cumberland, Town of New Palestine, Town of McCordsville, Town of Fortville, Town of Shirley, and Town of Wilkinson, in conjunction with Hancock County, are developing a county-wide trails plan that will connect their communities. This planning effort is the result of a series of community conversations on “Placemaking” held over the course of 3 years by the Hancock County Community Foundation. Each community listed was above was actively involved in these brainstorming sessions and realized that there was a need to create a bike and pedestrian connection plan for the entire county.

_MG_0173This plan will help improve non-motorized accessibility, promote safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, and make their communities a more enjoyable place to live and visit. This growing need for alternative transportation has risen for several reasons. Personal economics, a movement to become a healthier society, increased safety for children (that cannot drive yet), adults that want the option of depending less on their car, and an ever increasing elderly population are driving this trend.

To further emphasize the need for a plan, on July 20, 2016, Health by Design, an active livingGreenfield pennsy trail and healthy communities consultant, and the Indiana State Department of Health partnered with the City of Greenfield and Hancock Regional Hospital to present a daylong Active Living Workshop attended by more than 20 community leaders, staff and residents. One of the top active living priorities identified by the workshop was to develop a pedestrian and bicycle master plan. It also focused on key policy changes that could be made to promote active living in the community.

The communities of Greenfield, Cumberland, New Palestine, McCordsville, Fortville, Shirley, and Wilkinson have formed a committee to start addressing these connections. The committee applied for and received a Hancock County Community Foundation grant in 2017 to help fund a comprehensive plan.

For these reasons Hancock County and its communities are undertaking a plan to guide the development and design of bicycle and walking facilities within Hancock County.