I have been a resident of Kalamazoo for six years. I love Kalamazoo for all of its opportunities in the areas of education and the arts. I would love to see Kalamazoo become an even-more progressive, safe and inviting city. There are four areas/issues upon which need improvement:
1. Downtown Michigan Avenue: This area is a nightmare. It is like a six-lane racetrack, not at all conducive to furthering downtown business. I know several people, especially the elderly who will not even venture downtown because of the high speeds, lane changing and 18-wheel traffic. Speed limits are never enforced here. Is this what we envision as a welcoming downtown commerce and recreation area?
2. West Main: The area of this street which has four lanes and no left-turn lanes is a recipe for disaster. There are many auto accidents on this section, and is also very dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. There is no speed enforcement of speed limits which are already dangerous. Many stretches of this road have no sidewalks. Bicyclists and pedestrians are forced to take back routes to get where they are going. There is support for making this road one lane each way, with a left-turn lane and room for bike lanes, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. MDOT and many city officials and neighborhood citizens are in support of this change. Kalamazoo Township officials are dragging their feet. Why is that? In Europe, cities have successfully used various methods of traffic calming on high-traffic, urban and downtown streets. It only makes sense. Why can we not do the same?
3. Left-hand turn from Stadium, going west onto West Main. When a neighborhood group polled hundreds of citizens if they would like to be able to turn left onto West Main from Stadium, rather than winding around through residential streets, almost all replied, "Of course". The feeling was that this change is a "no-brainer". That intersection has been measured and there is already room for a left-turn lane.
4. Central Parking: While I understand the need for some parking oversight, why does it have to be done by a for-profit company, whose gestapo practices discourage downtown commerce. I have never lived in or visited a city with parking enforcement that was as ruthless as is Central Parking. Again, does our vision include making our downtown a welcoming destination for business and activities? I would hope so.
Again, I love Kalamazoo for many reasons, but with the above improvements, Kalamazoo could become a much-more visited, safe and prosperous town and downtown.