The Town of Culver was named one of the top 10 U.S. cities for its commitment to prioritize residents who walk and to create safe, comfortable, inviting places to walk by the Walk Friendly Communities program. The designation was announced by the organization earlier this spring.
Culver is the smallest community by population to received this designation. At the silver level, it is also the highest-ranking Hoosier town on the national list of 75 municipalities. Bloomington is the only other Indiana city named. It is at the bronze level.
Culver Academies is connected to the town by a trail running along Lake Maxinkuckee. This allows people to travel from Woodcraft Camp and the golf course to the Culver Beach Lodge and historic Vandalia Train Depot without crossing a highway or street.
Part of the trail, which includes the old railroad bed, was paved with funds from Marshall County. The steepest part of the trail, which had to be engineered to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, was paved with funds from the Marshall County Community Foundation, Town Manager Jonathan Leist said.
Academies’ Wellness Director Dana Neer said several sponsored events like Max Move, The Lake Max Triathlon, and the Run Lake Max Half Marathon/10k/5k utilize these combined resources. The Academies distance runners in cross country and track also make use of the connection.
The Walk Friendly Communities program is managed by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. In making the announcement, the program stated that Culver was a small town doing big things for pedestrians, and was recognized for the following reasons:
- The grid network of streets in this one-square mile Town make it possible to get most places on foot, and the Town boasts higher rates of walking than many communities of its size.
- The Town’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan lays out a vision for Culver as a community that supports travel by foot. The Plan includes clear, actionable recommendations for creating safe, walkable streets.
- A Complete Streets resolution adopted in 2018 establish clear requirements for all road users, especially bicyclists and pedestrians, to be considered in transportation decisions. The policy points to design resources, including those from the National Association of City Transportation Officials, which will serve as guiding documents for its transportation projects. It also lays out performance metrics to evaluate and inform the policy’s implementation.
- The Town’s ADA Transition Plan, first developed in 2012 and updated in 2018, tracks efforts to improve conditions for all pedestrians and ensure that streets and sidewalks are accessible.
The Walk Friendly Communities program, sponsored by FedEx, was developed to encourage cities and towns across the United States to develop and support walking environments with an emphasis on safety, mobility, access and comfort. It recognizes communities that lead the way in walkability, and allows stories to be shared to inspire other communities to step up efforts.
Leist said work on the trail will continue in the future. As a Stellar Community designee by the state of Indiana, Culver has received $1 million in federal funding from the Indiana Department of Transportation. Another $600,000 federal grant has also been received for the expansion of the trail.
He added Culver is honored to receive this designation and thanks the local plan commission, town council, redevelopment commission, the Michiana Area Council of Governments, Indiana State Department of Health, Troyer Group, Culver Park Supt. Amber Cowell ’14, and interns Cole Payne ’15 and Justin Lazaro in helping to make the Walk Friendly Community recognition happen.