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By Eli Cooper
The Ann Arbor City Council embraced “Complete Streets” at its March 7 meeting. This action enables the city to be recognized as a leader in providing public facilities in a manner that meets the needs of all users. I used a broad term – public facilities – not just streets or roads. That would have been a simpler, easier to understand term you might have expected to read. But no, this is a bit more complicated. All users? Aren’t streets provided for cars to drive on?
What does this action mean to me, you might wonder? What are complete streets anyway? Is a street that allows one to drive from one end of town to another a complete street? If only some streets are complete, what are incomplete streets? Why should I care?
Streets are not exclusively for cars, never have been. Yes, I know, we are in Michigan, the car capital of the nation and world. Home of the Big Three! Surely, a Complete Street allows one to drive on it. But no, that is not the story here. Let’s step back and review a bit of transportation history. I will keep the history part short, promise. I’ll bet you know streets and roads existed prior to automobiles. In fact, walkers, carriages, horses, mules, etc., bicyclists and others shared our streets long before the introduction and widespread use of the automobile.
. . . Post continued on Concetratemedia.
At its March 7, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council adopted a resolution expressing its commitment to the concept of “complete streets” – the idea that streets should be constructed to accommodate a full range of users, from pedestrians, to bicyclists, to public transit vehicles, to privately owned automobiles.
Read more of this article on the Ann Arbor Chronicle.
The Ann Arbor City Council unanimously approved a new pedestrian safety ordinance last July that gives walkers and bicyclists the upper hand when trying to brave traffic to cross city streets.
It’s a new kind of share-the-road philosophy, and city officials acknowledge it will take time and education to change the current culture. In the words of Police Chief Barnett Jones, it’s an effort to stop pedestrians from “playing Frogger trying to cross our roadways.”
The ordinance change, brought forward by Council Member Carsten Hohnke and Mayor John Hieftje, clarifies the obligation of motorists to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
According to the new ordinance, when traffic control signals aren’t in place or aren’t in operation, the driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right-of-way to every pedestrian not only within a crosswalk, but also pedestrians approaching a crosswalk.
The second House Transportation Committee hearing on Complete Streets legislation, HB 6151 and 6152, saw the room once again packed with supporters of the policies. The legislation - which seeks to move Michigan away from auto-centric road designs and meet the needs of all roadway users - has attracted strong support from a broad range of advocates. A few of the groups represented at today’s hearing included: The American Heart Association, Crim Fitness Foundation and Citizens for a Safe Community.
The coalition would like to extend thanks to all those who spoke at the meeting today, as well to those that offered written testimony. Chairwoman Byrnes (D – Dist. 52) indicated she plans to hold a vote on the bills next week, and with some organizations like SEMCOG and MML still supporting the bill in concept only, it is important that the committee members continue to hear vocal support for these specific policies.