Posts Tagged ‘Safe Routes to School’

Making Safe Routes to Burns Elementary

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
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Congratulations to Robert Burns Elementary in Detroit for its recent Safe Routes to School grant.

Here’s the official announcement from MDOT:

Burns School will implement safety improvements and educational programming. Project components include improving sidewalks and crosswalks on Lyndon, Terry, Intervale, Lauder and Robson streets and Grand River Avenue, and implementing several school-based programs, including pedestrian and personal safety workshops for parents and students, a walking school bus, and a Walking Wednesdays program. The project budget is $231,253.

Spring is here: Detroit biking in the media

Friday, March 26th, 2010

W. Vernor improvements to target pedestrian safety, add bike lanes

Model D has published follow up to the open house we mentioned earlier in Southwest Detroit.

Concepts shared at the Open House include the installation of bike lanes on W. Vernor between Waterman and Lansing, which would mean narrowing the road down in some areas to one lane of vehicular traffic; redoing the street surface and water and sewage lines on the stretch of W. Vernor that passes under the viaduct just east the W. Vernor/Dix/Waterman intersection, as well as the installation of new sidewalks and lighting; the incorporation of a left-turn lane on eastbound W. Vernor at Livernois to prevent illegal and unsafe turns; and improving lane configuration at the W. Vernor/Dix/Waterman intersection to prevent lane jockeying.

Plans will be submitted for approval to the Michigan Department of Transportation this month in the hope that construction can begin this year.

All total this will be about two miles of bike lanes (1 mile westbound, 1 mile eastbound.) Plans also call for lighting underneath the viaduct.

Sounds like a Complete Street to us!

Sharing Woodward Avenue

Metromode has an article on returning Woodward Avenue to a Complete Street.

That means making the thoroughfare friendly to all forms of transportation, like pedestrians, bicyclists, trains and automobiles. It also means building density and economic opportunity along Michigan’s Main Street. The belief is that by making Woodward less car-dominant it can grow into one of Metro Detroit’s primary economic engines.

“The time has come,” says Heather Carmona, executive director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association, a non-profit that advocates for the avenue. “The irony is decades ago Woodward was a transportation-inclusive corridor, but it lost that with the rise of the automotive industry. However, it’s coming back full circle.”

Detroit Has to Demolish Before it Can Rebuild

ABC News has a story on Mayor Bing’s efforts to rebuild and reinvent Detroit.

Demographer Kurt Metzger envisions small urban villages connected by parks and bike paths.

“We could become the greenest city in the country because of the land that we have if we start to manage it correctly,” he said.

We share that vision as do many others. While the Mayor in his recent state of the city address did not specifically say bike paths and greenways, he did mention “parks and green space” twice:

Strengthening our city will take a long-term strategy for how we use Detroit’s 140 square miles more productively. The harsh reality is that some areas are no longer viable neighborhoods with the population loss and financial situation our city faces. But instead of looking at our land as a liability, we need to begin to think creatively about how it can be a resource as we rebuild our city. That conversation is in its initial stages but let me take a moment to dispel some myths out there.

We’re not giving away or selling any neighborhoods to anyone. This is about determining what areas of our city are best suited for residential use, commercial and industrial businesses, parks and green space.

When I imagine Detroit’s future, I see a city with vibrant neighborhoods, with retail and grocery stores, a city that’s home to thriving small businesses, better mass transit and community parks and green space. But it will take all of us to make that happen and it’s a process that will not happen overnight.

And he also mentioned Detroit’s Safe Routes to School effort.

Kellogg Foundation invests in Detroit

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

W.K. KelloggWe recently wrote about W.K. Kellogg’s early bicycling advocacy efforts including his lifetime membership in the League of American Wheelmen.

Those efforts have continued through the Kellogg Foundation which has invested in trails throughout Michigan.

Here’s more good news as of last Monday.

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Michigan stands to lose millions in trail funding

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

The federal transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU) contained a provision whereas unspent transportation money could be pulled back from the states. It’s called a rescission and it took affect at the end of last month.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, Michigan is set to lose nearly $257 million in transportation funding.

Some of these transportation funds help us build non-motorized facilities and trails.

The biggest funding source is Transportation Enhancements. It’s helped build trails like the Conner Creek Greenways and Clinton River Trail. It’s also helping fund new bike lanes across Michigan.

According to an MDOT estimate, that fund is set to $13.1 million due to the rescission.

Another funding source is the Recreational Trails Program, which is administered by the DNR. With a rescission, the fund could lose $1.9 million.

Other federal transportations programs such as Safe Routes to School may also lose money.

Michigan is not alone on this. Other states are making similar cuts. Congress could override this rescission, but it’s not looking too likely at this time.

Keeping a tighter leash on kids in public

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

LiveScience has an interesting article, Kids Today on Tighter Leash, But Wild at Home. It suggests that today’s kids have less independent mobility, perhaps due in part to the bike unfriendly designs of newer communities.

Parents today give their children more freedom at home but keep them on a tighter leash in public, a new study finds. This is the reverse of what was considered good parenting in the early half of the last century, the researcher showed.

The loss of public freedom could reflect social changes, including the current design of towns and suburbs, which focus mostly on the convenience of auto traffic, not kids.

In the early 20th century, advice columns tended to promote obedience, with children listening to parents regarding diet, appearance and other personal matters.

While tightening the leashes at home, parents often gave their kids free rein outside, allowing them to play sports, ride bikes, buses and subways all over town, and even hitch rides.

The Free Press recently published a similar article, Fear and technology are keeping kids indoors.

U.S. children spend 50% less time outdoors than they did 20 years ago, says the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

The lack of running or biking or splashing around in the sprinkler is one likely factor in rising childhood obesity rates, said education professor Rhonda Clements, who conducted a 2004 study, “An Investigation on the Status of Outdoor Play,” for Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. In it, 85% of mothers reported their children spend less time playing outside than they did growing up.

This reduction in child mobility is also reflected in the number of kids walking or biking to school.

From a 2004 CDC study,

  • In 1969, 42 percent of children 5 to 18 years of age walked or bicycled to school. In 2001, only 16 percent did.
  • In 1969, 87 percent of children 5 to 18 years of age who lived within one mile of school walked or bicycled to school. In 2001, only 63 percent did.

The distances to schools and the traffic-related dangers were most often cited as barriers.

While the Safe Routes to School initiatives are addressing these barriers, it’s really something all of us need to keep pushing.

We need Complete Streets and well-designed communities that accomodate safe accessibility and mobility for future generations of kids — and that don’t require parent chauffeurs.