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Richard Devylder, the Department of Transportation’s Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation, speaks at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act at DOT headquarters in Washington, DC.

Mayor Heartwell reads the proclamation.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 13, 2010 Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell opened the first Complete Street in Grand Rapids.

Among those present at the event were members of the disability, bicycling and transit communities, as well as the environmentally astute and representatives from the Dyer-Ives Foundation, The Grand Rapids Foundation, and five of Grand Rapids’ seven City Commissioners.

Here is a short video of Mayor Heartwell reading the proclamation that, among other things, expressed strong support for Complete Streets policies.

Other speakers at the event included Kevin McCurren from the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition, Clark Goodrich from Concerned Citizens for Improved Transportation/Disability Advocates of Kent County, and Conrad Venema from The Rapid.

...and the ribbon is cut!

Grand Rapidians have expressed a strong desire to improve the walkability of their streets, establish a visible presence for cyclists with bike lanes and paths, and support transit use through various planning initiatives such as the 2002 Master Plan and Green Grand Rapids. Lake Drive is the first street in the city to be officially recognized as a Complete Street because of the addition of new on-street bike lanes and sharrows, pedestrian crossings at every intersection, enhanced bus stops with seating, and newly repaved vehicular travel lanes.

This is great first step in working towards completing Michigan’s streets, thanks and congratulations to Grand Rapids for being a leader on implementing policies that make our communities, and our state, more walkable, bikeable and livable!

Katie Birchmeier (10) and Conor Waterman (9) before adressing the Michigan Disability Caucus on June 23.

On June 23 children with disabilities shared their transportation needs with members of Michigan’s Senate and House. These brave youth addressed the Michigan’s Disability Caucus in the Speaker’s Library of the State Capitol. Katie Birchmeier (10), Conor Waterman (9), James Kleimola (18) and Chris Mistopoulos (25), provided personal stories about their ability to access the community and the challenges they have faced while walking and biking in Michigan.

In addition, PEAC (Programs to Educate All Cyclists) addressed the bi-partisan, bi-cameral Michigan Legislative Disability Caucus. During a one-hour presentation PEAC focused on educating the Caucus about their mission and programs, and advocated for greater state support of cycling by persons with disabilities. PEAC is a Michigan based nonprofit that is recognized as the national leader for cyclists with disabilities.

Representative John Gleason and Senator Randy Richarville with PEAC supporters in the Spearker's Library of the State Capitol.

The ability to travel in active modes of transportation is essential to access our community for all individuals.  Bicycling can become the primary mode of travel for individuals who cannot get a driver’s license.  A key component of the Complete Streets legislation that recently passed the Michigan House, and that is currently being considered by the Senate, is ensuring that streets meet the “varying mobility needs of all legal users of the roadway, of all ages and abilities.” The ability to travel independently is not just an access issue, but an issue of human dignity.  Individuals forced to rely on family and friends to meet all transportation needs reinforce ideas regarding inabilities, burden to others and second class citizenship. Clearly, passing Complete Streets legislation would go along way towards establishing a statewide policy regarding equal access issues. Read the rest of this entry »

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