Posts Tagged ‘L. Brooks Patterson’

More coverage of Complete Streets in Oakland County

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

As mentioned earlier, Oakland County Commissioners passed a Complete Streets resolution. However, the original resolution was modified before it was unanimously approved.

Here is the final version as best as we can determine with the changes highlighted:

WHEREAS Complete Street are defined as a design framework that enables safe and convenient access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers of all ages and abilities; and

WHEREAS Complete Streets are achieved when transportation agencies routinely plan, design, construct, reconstruct, operate, and maintain the transportation network to improve travel conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, motorists and freight in a manner consistent with, and supportive of, the surrounding community; and

WHEREAS development of pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure offers long-term cost savings and opportunities to create safe and convenient non-motorized travel; and

WHEREAS streets that support and invite multiple uses for pedestrians, bicycles, and transit are more conducive to the public life and efficient movement of people than streets designed primarily to move automobiles; and

WHEREAS increasing active transportation (e.g. walking, bicycling and using public transportation) offers the potential for improved public health, economic development, a cleaner environment, reduced transportation costs, enhanced community connections, social equity, and a more livable communities; and

WHEREAS Complete Streets principles have been and continue to be adopted nationwide at state, county, MPO, and city levels in the interest of proactive planning and adherence to federal regulations that guide transportation planning organizations to promote multi-modal transportation options and accessibility for all users; and

WHEREAS the Michigan Legislature enacted legislation that required the State Transportation Commission to:

A. Adopt a complete streets policy for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)

B. Develop a model complete streets policy or policies to be made available for use by local road agencies; and

WHEREAS this legislation established the Complete Streets Advisory Council to assist with the development of the model policy or policies and to advise the Transportation Commission and local road agencies on such policies; and

WHEREAS it is imperative that any policies and practices adopted by the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) be consistent with the model complete streets policies for local agencies being developed by the State Transportation Commission; and

WHEREAS RCOC has established its own Complete Streets Review Committee to examine the complete streets concept; and

WHEREAS this committee includes a cross section of RCOC staff and other interested parties including the City of Novi director of Public Services, the Oakland Township parks and trails planner, a representative of the Michigan Trailways and Greenways Alliance, the MDOT Metro Region planner and SEMCOG’s non-motorized transportation planner; and

WHEREAS RCOC’s committee will finalize its complete streets recommendations after it has reviewed the model policies developed by the State Transportation Commission.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners hereby declares its support for Complete Streets concept. and requests the Road Commission of Oakland County (RCOC) adopt a Complete Streets into its strategic planning process.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners hereby requests the Road Commission of Oakland County to develop a Non-motorized Transportation Plan that will include, at a minimum, accommodations for accessibility, sidewalks, curb ramps and cuts, trails and pathways, signage, bike lanes, and shall incorporate principles of Complete Streets and maximize walkable and bikeable streets within Oakland County.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners hereby requests the Road Commission for Oakland County plan for, design, and construct all transportation improvement projects, both new and retrofit activities, to provide appropriate accommodations for bicyclists, pedestrian, transit users, and persons of all ages and abilities in accordance with an Oakland County Non-motorized Transportation Plan.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners requests that two additional members are appointed to the Complete Streets Review Committee, and meet the following requirements:

1) Two (2) members of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners appointed by the Chairperson of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners requests that the RCOC’s report to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners within six months of adoption of this resolution progress of the committee.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners requests the that, once the State Transportation Commission has developed its complete streets model policy for local road agencies, and the policy has been reviewed by the RCOC Complete Streets Review Committee, RCOC will report to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners on how the Road Commission will progress in implementing an Oakland County Non-motorized plan and adoption of Complete Streets principles in overall strategic planning within six months after adoption of this resolution a complete streets policy that is consistent with the State Transportation Commission’s model policy and Complete Streets principles.

Here is some additional media coverage:

Woodward Avenue Complete Streets Grant

C and G News also ran a story on the Complete Streets grant for Woodward.

“(Complete Streets) is sort of a concept that communities across the country are adopting that says our streets should be more than for just cars,” said Heather Carmona, executive director of the WA3, which is based in Royal Oak.

This means that bicycling groups, non-motorized transit advocates, Woodward Light Rail supporters and all other stakeholders in the roadways will come together to make sure that every mode of transportation can share Woodward fairly and that all future road designs incorporate the Complete Streets concept.

To create a cohesive strategy, there would be standards, policies and land use changes that are shared by all jurisdictions. “The ultimate outcome will be some kind of overlying Complete Streets master plan for Woodward that will look at a lot of different components,” Carmona said.

John Scott elected SEMCOG Chair

In related news, Oakland County Commissioner John Scott (R-Waterford) was elected Chair of SEMCOG.

Scott initially opposed the County Complete Streets resolution by saying, “Does this mean bike paths or wheelchair lanes down Woodward (Avenue)? I’m not sure what I’m voting on here.”

Seriously? He thought Complete Streets meant wheelchair lanes on Woodward? Has he been traveling the U.S. and seeing wheelchair lanes in other Complete Street’s communities?

Now he’s chair of SEMCOG — our metropolitan planning authority that oversees much of this area’s transportation spending.

And in showing his true support for regional harmony, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson added, “He will defend Oakland County’s interests vigorously.”

It’s clear that a Complete Streets resolution is a start, but we need some more significant changes in our county government.

The problem isn’t high gas prices. It’s the lack of choice.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Have you seen the price of arugula? It can be a pricey green for salads, but fortunately salad eaters have choices. That old iceberg lettuce is never that much money and the more dedicated can often grow their own. It’s good to have choices.

Unfortunately for many of us in Southeast Michigan, when it comes to high gas prices, we don’t have choices — at least in the short run. Much of Southeast Michigan is urban sprawl and car dependent by design with mediocre to no transit options. Except for the most urbanized areas, Southeast Michigan’s walkability and bike ability is mediocre to poor as well. Complete Streets are typically a resolution rather than reality.

So while 9% of those recently surveyed blame President Obama for the high gas prices, it’s surprising that local officials that have promoted sprawl are escaping the blame for this automobile dependence.

The area’s main sprawl supporter is L. Brooks Patterson who says:

I love sprawl.  I need it.  I promote it.  Oakland County can’t get enough of it.

Yes, believe it or not, that’s actually his quote. Why is he being given a pass?

Those living in sprawling communities have few options in the face of high gas prices. It’s affecting peoples’ quality of life. We have built much of this region in such a way that residents are more vulnerable to the price of oil — and we’re all paying the price.

It’s time we held this area’s politicians and planners more accountable and demanded better transportation choices.

Additional reading:
Drive to Spend: Sprawl and Household Transportation Expenses

Oakland County: Healthy communities are not a priority

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama has kicked off a national campaign to fight childhood obesity which helps tie sprawl to unhealthy living.

In my home, we weren’t rich. The foods we ate weren’t fancy. But there was always a vegetable on the plate. And we managed to lead a pretty healthy life.

Many kids today aren’t so fortunate. Urban sprawl and fears about safety often mean the only walking they do is out their front door to a bus or a car. Cuts in recess and gym mean a lot less running around during the school day, and lunchtime may mean a school lunch heavy on calories and fat. For many kids, those afternoons spent riding bikes and playing ball until dusk have been replaced by afternoons inside with TV, the Internet, and video games.

Similarly, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report stating:

The car-dependent design of our communities has made it much harder for our children to walk to school and much harder for us to shop and do other errands entirely on foot or by bicycle.

Recommendations include:

  • Build or enhance infrastructures to support more walking and bicycling.
  • Support locating schools within easy walking distance of residential areas.

Now contrast that with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s archaic position on sprawl:

Well, let me state it unequivocally: I love sprawl. I need it. I promote it. Oakland County can’t get enough of it. Are you getting the picture?

Then in his 2010 state of the county address, Patterson said he’d allocate $50K per year from the Brooksie Way run to healthy living mini-grants:

I want Oakland County to be the healthiest county in the United States and I want my residents to enjoy a healthy quality of life.

So, mayors, supervisors, community leaders, there is $50,000 available to you for programs which have as their sole purpose the improvement of the health of your residents.

Patterson clearly doesn’t understand the connection between sprawl, obesity and unhealthy living.

In the first such national study, health researchers found that people who live in counties marked by sprawl-style development tend to weigh more, are more likely to be obese and are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure

As for his $50,000 program, keep in mind that Oakland County gives $1 million a year to the Road Commission for Oakland County to build and expand roads.

Improving Oakland County’s quality of life is clearly in the backseat, if not the trunk.

And we are getting the picture.

New Mobility Agenda

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

At a recent transportation engineer meeting in Farmington Hills a presenter told the following story.

An Australian businessman said that when he’s in the U.S., he schedules 3 meetings per day.  When in Australia, he schedules 4 per day, but when in Europe, he can handle 5 meetings per day.

In the U.S. he spent more time traveling between meetings compared with being in them.

The irony is there is more mobility in the U.S.  We have high-speed roads and expressways allowing people to move more quickly.  In Europe, transportation is not as fast, however, this has promoted greater density.  In other words, everything’s closer together.

This same issue was raised by Glatting-Jackson transportation engineer Ian Lockwood during his presentations in Detroit.  The more cities increase mobility, the more everything spreads out.

Accessibility/new mobility — being able to readily get between locations — is more valuable than high-speed mobility.

That’s a concept that’s been lost not only on most Metro Detroit road planners but on people like Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson.  Patterson has been sprawl promoter but has not connected the dots showing that inefficient land use leads to an inefficient and uncompetitive business environment — with or without gas at $4 a gallon.

Of course biking and walking suffer greatly when communities pursue high-speed mobility.  High-speed roads are rarely bike friendly.  And in these less dense communities, everything is further away which makes cycling and walking less attractive.  Lower density also makes public transit less effective.

Here is a great Streetfilm video from Paris that talks about how they’re doing things right.  Their engineers look at how to efficiently move people not cars.  It’s pretty basic and common sense.