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The Michigan Chapter of the American Planning Association published an extensive and explanatory article about complete streets in its monthly magazine, the Michigan Planner.  A word version of the article, written by Brad Strader, can be downloaded here. Great work!

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After months of hard work and deliberation, the Michigan House of Representatives passed Complete Streets legislation in overwhelming fashion! H.B. 6151 passed with a vote of 85 – 21, and H.B. 6152 with a vote of 84-22. The Coalition would like to thank everyone for their support and testimony…congratulations! Now it’s on to the Senate Transportation Committee.

Media:

click on the image to launch the infographic

Here’s a cool blog post and infographic from good.is on the rising popularity of people powered transportation. With the Michigan House of Representatives scheduled to vote on the Complete Streets legislation, this is particularly timely. Passing the legislation will make it even easier for Michigan citizens to continue to increasingly choose walking and biking over automobiles.

“It’s summer, and you may be seeing more people out on the street walking and biking. But it’s not just because the weather is nice. There are more people walking and biking year round, and the Department of Transportation is responding by dramatically increasing the amount of money spent on projects for pedestrians and cyclists.”

The infographic is derived from the 15-year Status Report, which is the third status update to the National Bicycling and Walking Study, originally published in 1994 as an assessment of bicycling and walking as transportation modes in the United States. The report gives an update on the two main goals of the 1994 study: reducing fatalities and increasing the number of trips made by walking and biking. The good news is that improvements were made in both, but funding for these alternatives to automobiles still accounts for only about 2% of transportation funding, so there’s still some work to do. The report also notes that “one of the fastest-growing efforts to promote bicycling and walking is the adoption of Complete Streets policies.”

R to L: A panel of supporters including the County Road Association of Michigan, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, AARP and Representative Jon Switalski testifying in support of HB 6151 and 6152.

The House Transportation Committee voted unanimously to pass  HB 6151 and HB 6152 out of committee, with recommendations. This is a big success for Complete Streets, and the Coalition would like to thank all of the stakeholders who worked hard to negotiate a bill that was eventually able to garner such strong support. We would especially like to thank Rep. Wayne Schmidt for his leadership on this issue, as well as Rep. Pam Byrnes, Rep. John Switalski and their staffs, who put a lot of effort to achieve this victory. In hectic fashion, the final drafts of the bills were being revised right up to the last minute, modified to reflect the negotiations made between all parties involved. As Chairwoman Byrnes said, reflecting on the compromises reached, “This bill is not what everybody wants, but it’s a good step forward.”

As the result of negotiations MML, SEMCOG, MDOT and CRAM, many of whom had previously only supported the bills in concept, are now strong supporters of the legislation. The support of these organizations, in addition to the support of most of the GOP members of the committee, bodes well for the future of the bills.

The final revision of the bill no longer requires local road agencies or municipalities to pass their own Complete Streets policies. MDOT, however, is still required to pass a Complete Streets policy, along with a ‘model’ policy for municipalities and counties. As Rep. Switalski said, this version of the bill gives “cities, and locals more say when dealing with transportation policy.” The final bill also gives the Complete Streets Advisory Council a much stronger role in the planning process, allowing them to advise MDOT on the adoption of Complete Streets policies.

Bill sponsor, Representative Jon Switalski, makes the case for Complete Streets in Michigan before the House Transportation Committee on June 24th, 2010. The Committee went on to vote unanimously in support of the legislation.

Felicia Wasson from AARP used her brief testimony to rightly note that this is “only the beginning – a first step” for Complete Streets. According to the revision, Complete Street policies must consider the “varying mobility needs of all legal users of the roadway, of all ages and abilities.” This language does indeed represent a great first step towards ensuring that everyone is entitled to use roadways safely and conveniently.

The bills will now be referred to the House floor for a second reading, followed by a vote by the full House of Representatives. Rep. Byrnes expects that the bills will be voted on by the House relatively soon.  After that, they are on to the Senate committee. It’s important to keep the energy and enthusiasm alive as the bills move forward – look for an updated action alert on our Take Action page in the next few days.

(For a complete look at the process the bills will follow as they become law, download a PDF copy of the Michigan Citizens Guide to State Government)

The Coalition would like to once again thank everyone who has worked with us to see that these bills get passed. Let’s use today’s success as a springboard to redouble our efforts, and push these important bills out of the House and through the Senate!

Additionally, League of American Bicyclists, Alliance for Biking and Walking, and the National Complete Streets Coalition all featured the efforts of Michigan’s Complete Streets movement on their blogs today.

Many more organizations and individuals provided testimony in support of Compete Streets that was entered into the record at the committee meeting as well. The following is list of links to .pdfs of those testimonies.

Thanks to Brian Beauchamp of the Michigan Land Use Institute for his recent blog post supporting the Complete Streets legislation currently before the House Transportation Committee.  In addition to traveling to Lansing to voice support before the House Transportation Committee, MLUI posted a call to action on their blog earlier this week.

We would also like to thank the Michigan League of Conservation Voters for their recent article expressing support of HB 6151 and 6152.  “The Michigan House is pedaling good policy in this case,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters

The Michigan Municipal League (MML) is asking folks to sign a petition of support for Complete Streets on their Let’s Save Michigan website. They recently featured the Complete Streets design principle at their Capitol Conference, and brought national walkability expert Dan Burden to a number of Michigan communities in February.

We are extremely pleased to see that the Let’s Save Michigan blog is asking people to contact their legislators to support HB 6151 & 6152.  While MML has been supportive of the idea of Complete Streets, they have not officially thrown their support behind these specific bills.  MML’s testimony last week before the House Transportation Committee stated that they only support these bills “in concept.”

We expect the House Transportation Committee to vote on these bills this Thursday, June 17. We’ll keep you updated.

Michigan Complete Streets Coalition member, Norm Cox of the American Society of Landscape Architects used his testimony to state that HB 6152 and 6152 is "working to make amends for the lopsided transportation investments of the last 50-60 years," adding, "it's not taking money away, but redistributing it based on changing priorities."

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.

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There is exciting news coming in from the Capitol today!  The Healthy Kids Healthy Michigan Complete Streets resolutions have passed the House. House Resolution 187 was adopted and House Concurrent Resolution 34 was adopted by the House and referred to the Senate.

Also, the transportation budget passed out of the House with Sections 321, 322, 323 and 324 included, bolilerplate language on complete streets.

Sec. 711(5) was also included which states “For rail passenger service supported in any part through capital or operating assistance from funds appropriated in this act, the department shall work with the rail carrier to identify ways in which reasonable transport of bicycles by passengers can be accommodated.”

Since the Senate version of the transportation budget did not include the sections on Complete Streets, it will now be taken up in conference committee where the two chambers will work through the differences.

Neither the resolutions or transportation budget will mandate Complete Streets, but they are victories to be proud of and stepping stones towards passing HB 6151 and 6152.

The House Transportation Committee will hold its second hearing on the Complete Streets package, House Bill 6151 and House Bill 6152 this Thursday, June 10th at 10:30 a.m. in the House Office Building Committee Room on the 5th Floor (124 North Capitol P.O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909-7514). We had a very full room of supporters for the first hearing , and we would like to fill the room this time too. There will be cards that you can fill out to support the legislation; there probably won’t be time for all to speak.

If you can’t make the hearing, you can still support the legislation at www.michigancompletestreets.org. There is a letter that you can e-mail to members of the House Transportation committee. Of course it is always best to use your own thoughts of support, but the e-mail is a good starting point. It would also be beneficial for you to write your own legislator with your support.

Thanks as always for adding your voice to this important issue!

On May 25, 2010, the Midland Planning Commission voted 7-0 to approve a Complete Streets policy. The Non-motorized Transportation Improvement Advisory Committee first outlined the policy, and then recommended it to the Planning Commission. The policy does not specify any one specific road design or financing, but will require city planners to design, operate and maintain streets that are safe and accessible for all users.

More information about the Non-motorized Transportation Improvement Plan can be found here.

Good work, Midland!



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