Making a push for Complete Streets in Michigan

House Bills 6151 and 6152 were introduced in the Michigan House recently. The first requires that anyone receiving state or federal road funding must have a Complete Streets policy. The second makes Complete Streets, non-motorized transportation, and traffic calming required components of every Michigan community’s planning efforts.

The Detroit Free Press reported:

For too long, supporters say, Michigan has emphasized automobiles at the expense of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, children, seniors and people with disabilities. They’re calling for the state to join a Complete Streets movement that takes into account non-motorized and other forms of transportation when streets are built or repaired.

The aim is to devote more planning and resources to improve sidewalks, add bike lanes and paths, upgrade transit stops and address other measures to serve people who don’t drive.

A secondary goal is to encourage more walking and biking.

From a non-motorized view point, this legislation would absolutely turn Michigan around, put us in lockstep with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and make our streets much more welcoming to all cyclists.

Of course, bills change. It’s possible that these requirements could be weakened into suggestions and that would be a shame.

House Transportation Committee

Last Thursday, both bills were taken up by the House Transportation Committee before a standing room only crowd of supporters. The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition has excellent coverage on this initial hearing. Among those providing testimony, John Waterman from PEAC and his group stood out. Their message was Complete Streets provide greater independence for many of the physically challenged children and adults.

Two groups’ opposition were noted: the Road Commissions for Oakland County and Macomb County. That wasn’t a surprise.

What can you do? Please contact your State Representative and Senator to let them know you support Complete Streets and these bills. The Michigan Complete Streets web site makes this easy.

A second hearing is tentatively planned for June 10th.

Complete Streets Resolution

The Transportation Committee did unanimously report out House Resolution 187 (and its companion, House Concurrent Resolution 34.) These resolutions “…urge county and local road agencies with the construction or reconstruction of transportation facilities to act in accordance with Complete Streets, Context Sensitive Solutions, and Safe Routes to School principles.”

Here is the complete resolution:

A resolution to express support for active transportation infrastructure options that promote walking and bicycle usage and reduce childhood obesity.

Whereas, A transportation network that provides active options for people holds many benefits for our citizens, our individual communities, and our state as a whole. Any modifications in our transportation infrastructure and policy that could increase physical activity, reduce traffic, and bring greater efficiency in the use of resources should be encouraged; and

Whereas, A transportation system conducive to bicycling and walking improves public health, reduces pollution, and holds great potential for revitalizing communities and spurring economic development. Such a comprehensive approach could also reduce some of the notable costs from obesity and other health-related problems incurred each year across our state; and

Whereas, The health of our youth is an especially critical issue. More than a quarter of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and lack of physical activity contributes considerably to this. While there are obviously many aspects of this problem, in 1969, half of the nation’s children walked or rode a bike to school each day; today, this figure is closer to one in 10; and

Whereas, Nationally, it is estimated that one quarter of trips are less than a mile, and half of all trips are less than 5 miles. The majority of these are made by car. Access to safe and reliable options could change the way we travel and alter the character of our communities; and

Whereas, Numerous programs have attempted to encourage children and their parents to become more active and, when practical, to walk or ride a bike to work or school. These programs include measures such as the Safe Routes to School program enacted by Congress, the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Context Sensitive Solutions and other initiatives, and the Complete Streets approach to promote safe access and sidewalks; and

Whereas, The Michigan Department of Transportation, which has developed long-range transportation plans that reflect alternate travel options as a priority and which has adopted the Context Sensitive Solutions design process, can be a key resource for counties and local communities across our state; and

Whereas, “Complete Streets” are roadways designed to accommodate safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclist, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities are able to move safely along and across Complete Streets to school, work, play, or run errands; and

Whereas, Complete Streets principles and concepts are continuing to be adopted nationwide at state, county, metropolitan planning organization, and city levels in the interest of proactive planning of multi-modal transportation options and in adherence to federal regulation; and

Whereas, Of the 118,327 miles of roads open to bicyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motorized users, the Michigan Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over approximately 7 percent, the state’s 83 counties oversee 75 percent, and cities and villages administer about 18 percent; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives, That we express support for programs and policies that include consideration of bicycle, pedestrian, and transit needs in the planning and development of transportation facilities. We urge the Michigan Department of Transportation to work with counties and local communities and expand active transportation options across our state; and be it further

Resolved, That we urge county and local road agencies with the construction or reconstruction of transportation facilities to act in accordance with Complete Streets, Context Sensitive Solutions, and Safe Routes to School principles; and be it further

Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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2 Responses to “Making a push for Complete Streets in Michigan”

  1. Andrew Mutch Says:

    Why am I not surprised to read that the RCOC is opposed to Complete Streets legislation? As usual, they’ll have to be dragged into the 21st century, kicking and screaming the entire way.

  2. Complete Streets in Michigan: a good step forward | Says:

    […] original Complete Streets bill would have required MDOT and all cities and counties to adopt Complete Streets policies. The new […]

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