Berea’s Journey to a More Walkable Community

Berea’s streets, like those in other Kentucky communities, were designed with cars in mind. So how did this Madison County community make sure children could safely walk home from school?

According to Mayor Steve Connelly, Berea’s street makeover started with one member of the planning commission. “He was insistent that all new developments have sidewalks. At first, the developers resisted because of the added expense,” Connelly said. “But then his voice was joined by others and it coalesced into a chorus that was heard by local government. We have institutionalized pedestrian safety as part of the Berea strategic plan.”

“Now we have a process where every time we look at a road, we consider walking and biking. It’s not — will there be sidewalks? It’s — where will the sidewalks be?”

Steve Connelly, Mayor of Berea

The Prospect Bridge includes a new shared-use path and sidewalk on either side.

Connelly began to draw some lines on a map that connected places of interest in the community. Those lines were the beginning of the Master Trail plan. With the help of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the Berea Healthy Communities Board brought together representatives from public schools, law enforcement, city government, Cooperative Extension Services, parents and the Bike Pedestrian Action Committee to help guide the process. Eventually, larger projects such as the Prospect Bridge and Stephenson Memorial Trail began to take shape.

But every mile and every project is a success worth mentioning when it comes to making streets more pedestrian friendly:

  • Hosting a “walking school bus” (group of children who walk to school with adult chaperones)
  • Changing the timing on lights so there is more time for pedestrians to cross
  • Making walkway striping more visible (“Abbey Road striping”) at two key intersections
  • Putting 18 bike racks around town
  • Posting 20 “Share the Road” signs
  • Receiving a $146,500 grant to put bicycle paths around Berea Community School
  • Adding a sidewalk and shared-use path to the Prospect Bridge
  • Constructing two mile-long sections of Stephenson Memorial Trail


2014 – 2015 Richmond Pedestrian Master Plan Team doing direct observation of streets and sidewalks around Richmond, Kentucky.

Berea’s Complete Streets project has continued to gather momentum. They currently have 8.9 miles of shared-use paths or trails, and they continue to plan for more. It is succeeding thanks to impressive cooperation between community groups, which spoke up clearly and persistently, and government which listened and responded.
Interested in making your community more walkable? Check out Kentucky’s Vision for Access to Physical Activity and see what groups are doing in your community.

Read the full story about Berea or other communities’ successes by checking out Shaping Kentucky’s Future: A Community Guide to Reducing Obesity, Local Success Stories.
We Can Get There From Here