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Complete Streets
Complete Streets

by K.G. Wassus

“Struck by vehicle” should have no place in an obituary, but from 2001-2009, it found its way into 1,468 death notices, and cost Michigan $6.31 billion. In Michigan, non-motorized pedestrian safety has been a struggle. Our state now ranks 19th nationally on the Pedestrian Danger Index, making Michigan’s informal title, “America’s High Five,” seem like somewhat of a misnomer. But how has Michigan sunk so low?
Unsafe street and road design play a big role in pedestrian deaths, experts say.
Imagine a Michigan road system where the right to walk is afforded the same respect as the right to drive, where riding a bike doesn’t mean risking imminent death, and where a handicapped person can use public transit without having to strong-arm a wheelchair up a curb. The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition seeks to make that vision a reality.
“We have 70 local Complete Streets resolutions and ordinances that have been adopted across the state,” says John Lindenmayer, Co-Chair of the Michigan Complete Streets Coalition. “That’s the largest number of policies adopted in any state, according to the National Complete Streets coalition.”
A Complete Streets policy means designing roadways and communities for all users. Bicyclists get their own clearly marked lanes. Pedestrians get crosswalks, often with safety medians that allow a stop in the middle of the street. Public transit users get usable transit stops with curb ramps, benches and overhangs to protect from inclement Michigan weather.
Fortunately, there are funds are available for communities that want to improve non-motorized transportation. Standard grant applications can be paired...