Posts Tagged ‘livable communities’

Candidate pushes livability in Wayne County Commission election

Monday, November 1st, 2010

A recent Free Press article discusses current Michigan senators running for seats on the Wayne County Commission.

It’s great to seeĀ Senator Raymond Basham mention livability — a term that’s getting much use by Ray LaHood, the U.S. DOT Secretary.

Basham, running in the 15th District, is most recently known for spearheading the smoking ban in Michigan this year. He also supported raising the state’s minimum wage.

At the county level, he said he wants to improve transportation, enforce environmental laws and create “livable cities” so residents can walk and bike in their communities.

That’s great to read.

While Wayne County has said they no longer oppose bike lanes on their roads, they haven’t built any yet claiming it’s a money issue. Still, there are funding sources that pay for adding such features and we’re not aware of the County pursuing those.

However, there are early discussions about adding bike lanes to the County’s portion of Conner Avenue in Detroit as part of the Conner Creek Greenway.

We could use a leader on this issue on the County Commission.

We should note that Basham was also a leader in the Michigan Senate. He’s been supportive of bike friendly legislation and Complete Streets, especially as Minority Vice ChairĀ on the Senate Transportation Committee.

Basham is running in Wayne County’s 15th district which includes Romulus, Taylor, Flat Rock, Huron Township and Brownstown Township.

11 Mile Road doesn’t have it all — but it could

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

“A cooperative group of business friends in Royal Oak, Michigan” has begun a campaign highlighting 11 Mile Road through Royal Oak. They are hoping draw business and attention to this business strip.

“We don’t get any respect,” he said about himself and his fellow business owners along the portions of 11 Mile Road just west and east of downtown Royal Oak. “We are not glitzy, or glamorous or progressive. But it’s family friendly down here. Eleven Mile Road is where you go for everyday service.”

Their slogan and web site are “11 Mile Has It All.”

Anyone who’s ever thought about biking on 11 Mile knows better. 11 Mile is not a Complete Street. It doesn’t have it all. It’s a road design based on the old-school failed concept that maximum vehicle mobility is good for local business strips.

It’s the same failed concept that once removed parking on nearby Washingon Boulevard in order to add another travel lane. Thankfully the Royal Oak DDA put Washington Boulevard on a Road Diet — at least in the business district.

We’ve submitted these comments to this 11 Mile Road group some weeks ago, but have not yet received any response:

Greatest Challenge: 11 Mile Road is not a Complete Street nor designed to be a main street. The current road design is the biggest impediment to making 11 Mile a thriving business district and part of a livable community. Today, 11 Mile does not have it all — but it can be fixed.

Solution: Make 11 Mile Road a Complete Street, which would likely involve a Road Diet, bike lanes, and on-street parking where possible. This is not unlike what Ferndale did with 9 Mile to great success. The 11 Mile group should participate in Royal Oak’s non-motorized planning which is expected to start soon.

We checked and the motor vehicle traffic volumes on 11 Mile Road would allow a Road Diet without diverting traffic onto residential streets.

And Road Diets increase safety. MDOT studied eight Michigan road diets and found they reduced vehicular crashes by 26% and reduced pedestrian unjuries by 37%. They also reduce speeding, provide more safe transportations options, and increase local business.

A Road Diet would truly make 11 Mile Road more family friendly — something it isn’t today unless you’re in a car.

11 Mile Road could have it all.

Midtown Loop Greenway breaks ground in Detroit

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Today was a big day. Another greenway in Detroit — the Midtown Loop — was officially under construction starting this week and there was a celebration on the lawn of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

From this UCCA/CFSEM press release:

Construction is underway on the Midtown Greenway, a four phase, two-mile greenway trail that will circle through Detroit’s University Cultural Center, Wayne State University and Medical Center and Brush Park districts.

Today at a press conference held at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, organizers officially broke ground to signify the start of the first of four phases of construction. When completed, the linked trails will provide eight miles of continuous greenways, enabling people to go from Wayne State University through the Eastern Market to the Detroit Riverfront.

“One of our main goals with the development of the Midtown Greenway is to reclaim the rights-of-way for pedestrians by creating a widened walkway, improving ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) crosswalks, and adding pedestrian traffic signals,” said University Cultural Center Association President Susan Mosey. “By adding such amenities along the route as outdoor seating, pocket parks and pet-friendly features, this trail will contribute to the quality of life and the lifestyle of the community.”

Mosey noted that only the first phase (Kirby and John R) is under construction and should be completed this year. She expects the Canfield segment construction will begin this fall with the Cass section beginning in 2011. The entire loop should be ready to go by the end of next year.

But that’s not all. The UCCA is also working on non-motorized connections to the Dequindre Cut.

And as we’ve noted before, this greenway is geared towards pedestrians and slower cycling. Commuters and faster cyclists may prefer sticking to the streets. This is similar to the current RiverWalk vs. Atwater tradeoff. did some excellent interviews which are now on-line.

One highlight? Sunny Jacob from Traffic Engineering explaining this project’s focus on Complete Streets and livable communities — something the city of Detroit is now pushing.

This project is all about making the street safe and walkable for all uses… and its the new concept called Complete Streets. We are pushing forward with the city of Detroit to make new communities and make them user friendly for all the uses.

Secretary LaHood — Detroit’s talking the talk and would make an excellent candidate for the next round of federal TIGER (as well as ACT) funding.

We’ve uploaded a video of Al Fields speech. Al is Mayor Bing’s Group Executive for Planning, a very active cyclist, and the one you should thank for Detroit’s first bike lanes (on Belle Isle.)

Secretary LaHood and US DOT 2010 goals

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is back in Detroit today for the auto show.

He recently listed what the US DOT had in the works for this year, including (emphasis ours):

More safety: I am not about to lay down on this; whether it’s distracted driving, impaired driving, or driving unprotected by seat belts, expect to see more from us on making our roadways safer for everyone.

More livability, sustainability: …in 2010 the TIGER grants we award will include as criteria the project’s contribution to sustainability and livability. Also in 2010, the Obama Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities of DOT-HUD-EPA will continue to align our efforts to promote the Three E’s of economic development, environmental protection, and equitable access to transportation.

Making roadways safe for all users… More livability… More sustainability… These goals all favor bike friendly transportation projects.

Now if only we could Metro Detroit state, county, and local governments working on the same. DOT’s emphasis on livability might force Metro Detroit governments to progress beyond post-WWII concepts of transportation and into the 21st century.

And in conjunction with this new federal emphasis, the House created the Livable Communities Task Force this past fall.

Every community in America — regardless of its size, geographic location, demographic composition, or economic base — aspires to become a place where families are safe, enjoy personal and environmental health, can select from a range of housing and transportation choices, and have access to educational and economic opportunities. These are the building blocks of livable communities.

The Livable Communities Task Force recognizes that federal policies — from transportation to tax incentives to environmental regulations and everything in between — have a profound effect on the livability of communities. This Task Force seeks to identify the ways in which the federal government can affect community livability and improve Americans’ quality of life. This includes reducing the nation’s dependence on oil, protecting the environment, improving public health and investing in housing and transportation projects that create jobs and give people more commuting choices.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer chairs the task force of 20 members, but unfortunately none are from Michigan.

Obesity costs justify more bicycling investments

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

A Free Press article last week centered on a new report that exposes the high cost of obesity, which now makes up an estimated 9.1% of all medical spending.

Obesity’s not just dangerous, it’s expensive. New research shows medical spending averages $1,400 more a year for an obese person than for someone who’s normal weight.

Overall obesity-related health spending reaches $147 billion, double what it was nearly a decade ago, says the study published today by the journal Health Affairs.

RTI health economist Eric Finkelstein offers a blunt message for lawmakers trying to revamp the health care system: “Unless you address obesity, you’re never going to address rising health care costs.”

Earlier this week we covered a new report from the CDC that gave strategies on how to reduce America’s obesity rate. Those strategies included investing in our communities to make them more walkable and bikable.

More bike lanes, more sidewalks, etc.

So if obesity costs $147 billion annually, with roughly half financed by Medicare and Medicaid, how much does the federal transportation bill invest in bicycle and pedestrian facilities?

$541 million in 2008 or 0.7% of the obesity-related Medicare and Medicaid costs.

This is further justification to take a more holistic approach to transportation funding. It’s not just about mobility and concrete.

Wise investments in more livable, walkable, and bikeable communities can reduce obesity and the related federal medical spending — as well as everyones health insurance costs.