In Amherst, one neighborhood is going the distance

  • Michele Spirko, from left, Jacquelyn Kang, Blake Spirko and Anthea Spirko talk Monday near the Spirkos’ home in Amherst. Since the start of the pandemic, members of the Amherst Hills neighborhood decided to collectively run, walk, bike or jog 5,000 total miles around their milelong circle. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Kennedy rides his bike Monday on Linden Ridge Road in Amherst. Since the start of the pandemic, members of the Amherst Hills neighborhood decided to collectively run, walk, bike or jog 5,000 total miles around their milelong circle. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Meg Wise and Paul Gould walk their Tibetan terriers Lulu, left, and Betty on Monday on Linden Ridge Road in Amherst. Since the start of the pandemic, members of the Amherst Hills neighborhood decided to collectively run, walk, bike or jog 5,000 total miles around their milelong circle. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Eli Kern rides a skateboard Monday near his home on Linden Ridge Road in Amherst. Since the start of the pandemic, members of the Amherst Hills neighborhood decided to collectively run, walk, bike or jog 5,000 total miles around their milelong circle. His father, Jordie Kern, organized the effort. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Morgan Clapprood, 3, rides her tricycle Monday on a ride with her parents, Jen and Darren Clapprood, on Linden Ridge Road. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Darren and Jen Clapprood ride Monday on Linden Ridge Road in Amherst. Since the start of the pandemic, members of the Amherst Hills neighborhood decided to collectively run, walk, bike or jog 5,000 total miles around their milelong circle. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cooper Clapprood, 6, rides ahead of his sister, Morgan Clapprood, 3, while on a bike ride Monday with his parents, Jen and Darren Clapprood, on Linden Ridge Road in Amherst. Since the start of the pandemic, members of the Amherst Hills neighborhood decided to collectively run, walk, bike or jog 5,000 total miles around their milelong circle. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Traci Wells, left, and her son, Bobby, 7, pause from their bike ride Monday to talk with Korinna Spirko, right, and her sister, Anthea Spirko, as they walk Orlie on Linden Ridge Road in Amherst. Since the start of the pandemic, members of the Amherst Hills neighborhood decided to collectively run, walk, bike or jog 5,000 total miles around their milelong circle. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/21/2020 7:11:29 PM

AMHERST — Venturing out from homes to walk, jog, bicycle and skateboard through their neighborhood has taken on a new meaning for residents in the Amherst Hills subdivision.

As a way of remaining safe during the stay-at-home orders and practicing appropriate social distancing, while also paying tribute to essential workers, those who live on Linden Ridge Road and Concord Way recently set out to cumulatively travel 5,000 miles through their non-motorized journeys on the circle.

“When the lockdown started, we came up with the idea to develop a fun contest and a way to get people outside exercising and take their minds off what we knew would be a tough time for a lot of people,” says Jordie Kern, one of the organizers of the project.

Kern said the concept was to have people track, though a Google spreadsheet each day, how many times they had traversed the full one-mile loop. 

The neighborhood hit the 5,000-mile mark Sunday, and residents are now working on their next 5,000 miles.

Since the endeavor launched several weeks ago, the neighborhood has not only been building a sense of community for families, but making people feel that they are not enduring sheltering alone.

Kern said 42 families, totaling about 150 individuals, has given them new opportunities, such as parents jogging alongside their children and having conversations with members of other households while walking at a safe distance from one another.

The circle already has limited vehicular traffic, and an even more sparse number of cars means plenty of room for even the youngest residents to go about their journeys safely, and to maintain the 6-foot separation necessary to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus.

When leaving their homes, Kern said the residents know the project is about honoring the hospital workers and medical practitioners who are treating COVID-19 patients, the grocery store and restaurant employees who are making sure people can remain fed, and the drivers delivering products to supermarkets and packages to homes.

“It was also important to us to recognize and dedicate this to all people who are on the front lines,” Kern said.

The spreadsheet keeps track of those who have accomplished certain achievements, such as one boy who rode his bicycle 280 miles, and a canine companion that has been walked 58 miles. 

“We’d encourage other neighborhoods to do this,” Kern said. “It’s a nice way to build community and boost morale during this difficult time.”


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