Sister Bay Rectifies Car-centric Error

When the Country Walk Shops were built in Sister Bay in the 1980s, America was in the midst of a development era when everything was car-centric. We were building subdivisions and creating zoning maps based on the model of separated uses, inadvertently sequestering much of our lives inside our cars.

We made it nearly impossible in many communities to walk to the corner market for a gallon of milk, to open a neighborhood tavern or coffee shop, or to have jobs where we live.

Even Door County felt the effects of such ill-advised planning (see Egg Harbor Road in Sturgeon Bay, where the lack of sidewalks often forces seniors to ride scooters on the shoulder of the busy stretch if they dare to shop without a car). In Sister Bay, the Country walk shops were built as a driving destination. A complex of dozens of stores, including the grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, and a book store, was built without a sidewalk or path connecting it to the existing village.

The shops were built facing inward at the large parking lot instead of taking advantage of the highway frontage where the complex sits. Though the shops are within a block of a residential neighborhood, affordable housing, daycare, Scandia Village, and the Greystone Manor apartments, there is not a sidewalk, bike lane, or crosswalk in sight. The effect is to discourage people from visiting without hopping in their cars.

This month, Sister Bay aims to rectify that short-sighted planning as they resurface Country Walk Drive. The resurfacing includes the addition of a walking and biking path on the west side of the road (the side that the Northern Grill restaurant is on) that will connect to the existing multi-use path along Hwy 42 and run all the way to the Northern Door Children’s Center at the corner of Country Walk Drive and Hwy 57. The plan also calls for crosswalks guiding pedestrians into the Country Walk shops complex.

It’s a small step, but one that will create a more walkable neighborhood where pedestrians feel safe and are encouraged to experience their community on foot.