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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.”

Lack of funding leads to destruction of Montcalm County roads

A YouTube video released today documents the intentional pulverization of paved roadways in Montcalm County.  Faced with dwindling funds for road maintenance, many Michigan counties are being forced to replace paved roads with gravel.

While many Michigan roads are certainly in need of repair, it would be irresponsible to consider a road “fixed” until it is “complete,” meaning it accomodates all modes of transportation including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and those with disabilities – not just cars.

When incorporated into the original design of a roadway, Complete Streets practices often cost little extra to implement.  Advocates for Complete Streets need to reframe the issue of cost into an issue of value.  We must start placing value on the proper construction and maintenance of the entire right of way, not just the number of miles of paved travel lanes.  This means that the many engineers, planners and politicians who have ignored the needs of the 1/3 of Americans who do not drive will have to stop treating bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users and those using mobility aides as second class citizens.  Placing emphasis on value may indeed mean that communities might have to repave a few less miles of road each year and use those savings to make the roadways that they do “fix” complete.

Learn more about the costs of Complete Streets at:
http://www.completestreets.org/complete-streets-fundamentals/factsheets/costs/

Michigan needs great, walkable, urban places if it is to mount a serious economic recovery.

This is a refreshingly simple message, and one embraced by places like Chicago and Pittsburgh.  But it has been a tough sell in Michigan.

The importance of the “built environment” – how and where residential housing, transportation infrastructure and commercial investment lands in our communities – has historically not been part of Michigan’s economic development strategy.
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Michigan Complete Streets Photo Stream

Downtown Dexter is a Walkable Community Photo by Michigan Municipal League Fall 2012

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