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Via My Wheel Are Turning (MyWHat)

Connected Community: Complete Streets

Tuesday April 5 • 5:30-8PM at the Traverse City Area District Library


TART, a MyWHaT underwriter, will be convening a community conversation about Complete Streets on April 5th. The event is intended as an introduction and discussion of Complete Streets and how the policy is a starting point to a more connected community. This author will facilitate an introductory discussion of the concept and current legislation. In addition to myself, Nancy Krupiarz, the Executive Director of the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance, will connect how other communities are coming together, creating complete streets, and how these statewide actions are interconnected.

32 Michigan communities now support street construction with designs that are inclusive to all users with resolutions or ordinances. Michigan actually leads the country in local governments passing specific Complete Street policies.

This is a participatory session with plenty of time for questions, input and connecting with other people in the community who want to build a better community. We have a lot of grand assets in our favor and complete streets is just one of the pieces needed to continue to harness that potential. We trust that participants will go away with a better understanding of what they can do to build a more connected community.

A follow-up meeting is anticipated.

See you Tuesday April 5th at 5:30PM at the Traverse Area District Main Library.

If you’re interested in more information, send a message below or call the TART Trails office at (231) 941-4300.

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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

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

With standing room only, the room was abuzz with Complete Streets supporters on May 27th as the House Transportation Committee took testimony on HB 6151 and 6152.

It was standing room only yesterday as the House Transportation Committee took testimony on HB 6151 and 6152, Complete Streets legislation introduced by Representatives Jon Switalski and Pam Byrnes.  The legislation would ensure that future road projects throughout Michigan would be required to provide safe accommodations for all roadway users such as bicyclists, pedestrians and those with disabilities.

The Coalition sincerely thanks everyone who came to the hearing and submitted testimony and cards of support.  The committee members were impressed with the turnout and the amount of written testimony they received.

Providing moving testimony was Michelle Miles, mother of Jasmine Starr Miles, who was fatally struck by two cars and tragically killed in 2003 within 1,000 feet of a school zone while crossing a four lane road in Lansing.  The roadway had neither crosswalks nor a sidewalk available.  Cynthia Redinger of Opus International Consultants, Inc then presented a Powerpoint overview on what Complete Streets look like.

Opposition (MDOT, CRAM, MAC and MTA) is working hard to defeat these bills – as we knew they would.  Their approach is that they support the concept of Complete Streets, but view these bills as an unfunded mandate.  Testimony from numerous supporters of the bills, however, debunked such claims, including AARP’s Adam Goldberg and Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber who cited multiple examples of additional cost and delays in road projects in his community because of inadequate planning to accommodate nonmotorized users.

Representative Switalski’s testimony also cited recent examples in Mt. Pleasant, Kalamazoo and Traverse City where MDOT has failed to coordinate with local road agencies:

“The other component of this legislation is the coordination of the department and local road agencies on transportation projects. MDOT does great work for our state but we are asking them to do a little more when it comes to coordinating with locals on state trunklines in cities. On several occasions the department has not coordinated with local road agencies on state trunkline projects in that local road agencies’ jurisdiction.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday, Traverse City officials met with MDOT Executive Director Kirk Steudle in Lansing to discuss the possibility of still incoporating Complete Streets within the upcoming 8th Street road project. Mayor Bzdok, City Manager Bifoss, Senator Allen and Representative Schmidt were also present at this meeting.  There are not many details to report yet, but based on comments by MDOT’s North Region Manager Rise Rasch to the Traverse City Transportation Elements Committee last night, options for an improved 8th Street between Barlow and Garfield are still on the table for 2010.  Exciting news!

Read more on the My Wheels Are Turning blog.

Below is an update from our friends at TART Trails on the ongoing 8th Street Complete Streets efforts currently happening in Traverse City.  Kudos to the local advocates for turning out so many supporters for public comment!  The 8th Street situation is an excellent working example of why Michigan needs a comprehensive Complete Streets policy.  Such a policy would have automatically included ALL roadway users within the initial design of this project.

Over 100 residents gathered at the City Commission meeting on 2/8/10 to voice their opinion on the current 8th Street redesign plans. TART is optimistic that we still have time to work together with the City and MDOT to redesign the 8th Street corridor with a Complete Streets design and not risk losing the Federal Stimulus funding. We’re hoping there is room to encourage flexibility for making a design change that would accommodate bike lanes on the 8th Street project.

Mayor Bzdok and Manager Bifoss will be meeting with MDOT Director Steudle, Senator Allen and Representative Schmidt on February 25 in Lansing to discuss the 8th Street project. Please contact our elected officials before next Thursday and let them know your opinion on the 8th Street project.

Please kindly ask Michigan Representative Wayne Schmidt, Michigan Senator Jason Allen and US Senator Carl Levin if there is anything we can do at this stage to move the 8th Street project forward so it fits in with the City Master Plan and the Grand Vision without losing the Federal dollars.

Thank you for your support on this issue. Together, we are working to make our region a more pedestrian and bike-friendly community.

Missy Luyk – TART Trails, Inc.

More information about this effort may be found on TART’s website .

Recent media on this issue:

http://www.record-eagle.com/local/local_story_037075158.html

http://www.traversetrails.org/blog/action-alert-8th-street-reconstruction-project/

http://www.cherrycapitalcyclingclub.org/

http://www.record-eagle.com/opinion/local_story_042074703.html

http://www.upnorthlive.com/news/story.aspx?id=416424

Action alert!

Your input is critical at this time, especially if you live within the Traverse City city limits! The Traverse City Commission is having a study session on Monday February 8, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the Governmental Center (400 Boardman Ave) to discuss current plans to rebuild 8th Street between Garfield and Barlow. The current plan as designed does not accommodate safe provisions for bicycles.

The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition and our local ally TART believe strongly that now is the time to redesign the 8th Street corridor with the Complete Street concept in mind, which means streets are designed to have room for all users (autos, bus, bike and pedestrian). There may be an opportunity to change the roadway to incorporate dedicated bike lanes along the corridor.

If we do not ask for bike lanes to be added at this time, we could be missing an opportunity to make Traverse City an even more Bicycle Friendly Community. It could be many decades before 8th Street is completely reconstructed again. Please attend the meeting or contact the City Commissioners directly by phone or email. You may find their contact information here.

We hope you will heed this call to action!

Learn more about the Complete Streets in the Traverse City area from Tart Trails and MyWheelsAreTurning.com

Yet another Michigan city has recognized the link between infrastructure and livability, and stepped up it’s commitment to safe infrastructure for walking and biking. Yesterday we heard from Traverse City Mayor Chris Bzdok, who wrote to inform us that the City adopted a new infrastructure policy in September — one that includes an emphasis on complete streets. The policy makes an expressed bias in favor of sidewalk and bikeway construction. See more over at http://www.ci.traverse-city.mi.us/Policy/InfrastructureStrategyPolicy.pdf

In addition to this new infrastructure policy, the City will dedicate 10% of its infrastructure budget to sidewalks, bikeways and other people-friendly infrastructure, the highest known percentage commitment of any municipality in the state of Michigan.

Mayor Bzdok’s commitment to these issues is sincere – he can often be seen riding his bicycle to work and to City Hall. Meanwhile, his administration has additional complete streets-related goals for the City, outlined in full at www.planfortc.com.

We could go on about these goals, but this quote says it best:

“[We desire s]treets that serve not only cars, but also bicycles and pedestrians.  It means bike lanes, sidewalks, and safe places for people to cross our major roads. It means solving the problems on Division Street.  It means re-striping Eighth Street so people can ride their bicycles safely between Boardman and Central neighborhoods.  It means installing or improving pedestrian crossings over US-31 at Fourteenth Street, Eleventh Street, Randolph, Grandview Parkway, Oak Street, Hall Street, Garfield, Eighth Street, and Parsons.  It means providing safe routes to school.

In part, this is an equity issue.  Not everyone has a car, or is in a position to drive.  They deserve a way to get around town, too.  In part, this is a plan for reducing traffic in our city.  If we don’t make it safe and convenient for people to travel on foot or bicycle, how can we ever expect them to get out of their cars?  It’s also about being a desirable city.  The most sought-after places around the country provide for walking and biking throughout their city limits, and residents and visitors in those cities do just that.  It’s time we get with the program.”

Well put, Mayor Bzdok. Thanks for your leadership on these important issues!



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