making michigan pedestrian friendly

A reader and local cyclist recently sent me this article from the AARP Bulletin Today. I encourage you to give it a read. The couldn’t be more timely given what’s just happened this week on US-223, where an elderly pedestrian was struck down between Main and Winter.

Here are the highlights:

• Michigan’s pedestrian fatality rate is slightly worse than the national average.
• AARP has advocated “complete streets” policies for cars, cyclists and pedestrians locally and at the state level.
• You can make a difference. Volunteers are needed for AARP “walkability audits” of communities.

One step recommended for making streets more bike-friendly was this: “Four-lane roads might be narrowed to two plus a left-turn lane—with bike lanes on either side.” Indeed! I couldn’t agree more. M-52 and US-223 desperately need protected bike lanes. Providing them would increase access and connectivity by bicycle exponentially.

So how do we make that happen, you ask.

Making streets safer doesn’t cost a lot of money, but it requires a new mindset for transportation planners in the car capital of the country. For instance, bike lanes can be added at little cost when a road is scheduled to be resurfaced anyway. The goal is to invest 5 percent of transportation dollars on pedestrian safety….

How can I get involved? Well, it could be as easy as taking a walk or a ride on your bicycle.

As a next step, volunteers will conduct walkability surveys to identify areas that need work. Karen Kafantaris, associate state director of AARP Michigan, is looking for volunteers for the Lansing survey and is building a network of activists in other cities.

To join the effort, send an e-mail to Ms. Kafantaris.

As usual, a number of the online comments responding to the Telegram article degenerate quickly, but one in particular is especially ignorant. Someone going by the username “argg” uses the incident to lambast a local jogger.

The edge of the road is not your personal gym. (lady on Sand Creek hwy that runs on the white line every morning in the dark). Cars can not see you until they are about 15 foot away and thats if the cars coming from the other direction dont have their brights on. Your little AAA battery powered blinking light matches the reflectors on the mailboxes and is not a shield making you safe. And an orange fleece vest is not bright or reflective in the dark.

Clearly this driver knows to anticipate this jogger’s presence on the road on a regular basis, so what is the point of this tirade other than to posture and to assert, rather arrogantly, presumptuously, and naively, a position of arbitrary privilege? To say, in effect, I am already here and you must accommodate me?  To preemptively blame the victim? To excuse oneself from any obligatory consideration, while regarding any voluntary consideration as an undeserved gesture of goodwill, so as to suggest that the jogger is lucky to be passed by someone so kind, thoughtful, and careful?

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2 responses to “making michigan pedestrian friendly

    • Thanks for sharing this, Dave. This is fantastic news. Perhaps there’s some hope for M-52 and US-223 yet.

      On the other hand, without wanting to sound cynical, meaningful improvements seem a long way off when basic road maintenance is neglected to the degree that it has been for so many years.