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Matt Lechel inside City Boundary April 16, 2020, 1:17 PM
I like everything listed on this one. One question I'm interested in is why we didn't do this stuff 10 years ago? Why do we need public input to create basic safe infrastructure for people not in cars? Why don't people driving have to fill out exhaustive surveys about minute details surrounding how to get basic access to their city?
Matt Lechel inside City Boundary April 16, 2020, 1:15 PM
Crosswalks should be beefed up through Vine, especially in business district. Narrow travel lanes to slow cars down and reduce amount of lanes. This includes south of the vine biz district where it goes from 2 car travel lanes to 4 drivers really gun it. There should be a protected bike lane network on either westnedge or park or maybe both. Sidewalk networks should be plowed year round from Vine into biz district and downtown (start w/ 1-2 roads if all of them aren't possible at first).
Matt Lechel inside City Boundary April 16, 2020, 1:10 PM
If we're going to have a protected bike lane network, we'll need a north-south connection. Having a protected bike lane on either westnedge or park makes a lot of sense, given that they have the most space. In terms of this question: 'What is needed to make sure that users of all abilities are comfortable on a cycle track?' One thing I would lift up is how much damage the Kalamazoo Police Department caused by going on the news repeatedly and saying they would be 'cracking down on illegal bike riding'. As we introduce new bike infrastructure in the community, folks will likely be wary of a punitive, threatening police force 'cracking down' on them for making a mistake.
Matt Lechel inside City Boundary April 16, 2020, 1:03 PM
Not really sure what I'm looking at here or what you'd like feedback on. Currently Stadium Drive is 100% dominated by cars. There are no sidewalks and it is very inaccessible for bike riders. There is currently a trail from WMU's campus into downtown, mostly following stadium, but set back from the road. That connection has some potential but is completely neglected and not invested in by city or WMU leadership. With even some basic attention and priority that current trail could become a functional connection to downtown. What will be different this time around? If it would take very little effort to fix the current trail from campus to downtown but no one has given it any attention, will this new investment suddenly make it a priority? Who's in charge of the current trail from campus to downtown? In my opinion what's needed is some of the folks planning these street redesigns to get on a bike with some students and families and try to ride from campus to downtown. See what its like. See how people in real life struggle to get across intersections because of no infrastructure. Put some effort into fixing the current connection. Try a few things. Practice. Get good at building infrastructure that actually works and is connected to a network. Spending a bunch of money is not going to fix the underlying issues that have made this so dysfunctional for so long.
Matt Lechel inside City Boundary April 16, 2020, 12:56 PM
At least two of the east-west streets through downtown need protected bike lane networks. I think Michigan and Kalamazoo offer the most space, but lovell or south could make sense as well. What if South Street got a protected bike lane network and the section of south street in front of city hall was completely non-motorized? Ya'll already do this on Friday's in the summer (nice work) and car traffic is just fine. Why not make it permanent? The area in front of city hall could be a place for people, instead of empty cars and the pedestrain space would extend nicely from the doors of city hall into Bronson Park, year round. Car drivers would still have Lovell, Kzoo Ave and Michigan Ave for direct east-west connections and even if they traveled on south they'd only need to re-route one block. In term of bus, I think dedicated travel lanes for bus makes sense and i support it. Seems like Kzoo Ave and Michigan Ave have them most space for that.
Matt Lechel inside City Boundary April 16, 2020, 12:51 PM
We need a protected bike lane network through downtown. Whether that goes on Michigan, Kzoo, South or Lovell, I'm not sure. Choose two and put protected bike lanes on them. My vision would be to put the protected bike lanes on Michigan and Kzoo ave since you have the most space. I could also see them working on Michigan and South. On Lovell, I'd probably just narrow the car travel lanes super skinny to slllooowww drivers way down, one lane in each direction with tons of pedestrian space on each side. The intersection of Lovell and Rose is super dangerous for people walking currently. I observe car drivers blow through the stop bar at that intersection 100's of times a day. About 50% of drivers ignore the no turn on red and turn anyhow. Witnessed many car crashes there. A redesign of lovell should address that situation and make it more safe for people walking, before more people get hurt.
Matt Lechel inside City Boundary April 16, 2020, 12:46 PM
Pretty similar feedback to my comments on Michigan Ave redesign. We need a protected bike lane network through downtown. Kalamazoo Ave could be a good potential spot, but any specific feedback would depend on where the other routes are. I would just point out that Kalamazoo ave exits downtown to the west it's a 3 lane one way through the Stuart neighborhood. I hope any redesign of kzoo ave will consider connecting to the neighborhoods. The city hasn't done a good job in the past connecting the infrastructure they do have. It just suddenly dead ends or stops into a curb w/ no exit, so I'm interested in ensuring whatever we build is part of a connected network. Also want to lift up that unless it's a protected bike lane, it's not being build for everyone. Bike sharrows or bike lanes that are just white paint on the road are only for a tiny percentage of the community. If we want a bike network that is accessible to everyone, it has to be protected. The intersection of Kalamazoo Ave and westnedge is super dangerous for people walking right now and I'd like to see it changed to protect people walking. Finally, I absolutely hate the idea of Kzoo Ave becoming two lanes in each direction. West Main is two lanes in each direction just west of downtown and residents who live along that street call it 'the river of death' because speeding cars are constantly crashing and buzzing close to people walking. I'd rather it stay one-way than turn into two lanes in each direction. Why not one-lane in each direction with center turn lane?
Matt Lechel inside City Boundary April 16, 2020, 12:38 PM
I like the idea of Michigan Ave becoming one lane in each direction with a center turn lane. We need protected bike network through downtown. How and where it goes I'm less inclined to debate. Try some things. Start now. My opinion is that Michigan Ave makes a lot of sense for at least one of the protected bike lane networks to be. I'm not personally able to say where the protected bike network should go and where it shouldn't go w/out context of where the network is. If there's a protected bike lane network on Kalamazoo Ave and on South street, maybe we don't need one on Michigan Ave. But we do need a protected bike lane network. Is that clear? That's my main feedback, build a logical, safe, complete protected bike lane network through the urban core! Connect it to the urban core neighborhoods. Ride the network with real families to see how it works and what doesn't work. Adjust it and fix it. Keep riding with families and workers and students to see what works and doesn't. Adjust. Try more. A good practice for the city to start doing is anytime you're going to build bike infrastructure and it isn't protected, say to yourselves: This infrastructure is not safe for kids, and will not be used by the vast majority of people. So when we build a bike lane that's just white paint on the road, or worse yet a bike sharrow, those are choices we can make, but we should be honest about those decisions: we know white paint on the road, or bike sharrows, will not be accessible to most of the community. Beyond there needing to be safe, easy-to-use protected bike networks through downtown, there should be the same for people walking and rolling. Sidewalks should be increased in size, and cleared of snow and obstructions year round. Particular attention should be paid to intersections to increase safety. The intersection of Michigan Ave/Westnedge and Michigan Ave/Park, for example, are currently pretty unsafe, unprotected intersections for people not in cars. I'd like to see narrowing of car travel lanes at intersections, bigger bolder crosswalks, bumpouts, traffic islands to prevent cars cutting corners, no turn on red... all introduced to slow down cars at intersections where people are walking to cross. I'd like to see all pedestrian beg buttons disabled and the amount of time increased for walk signals (the walk signal at Michigan Ave and Westnedge right now, for example, is not long enough for an elderly person to get across safely). i love the idea of sidewalk cafes along Michigan. My main concern is not engineering. If this was a design problem, we'd have solved it 30 years ago. People have been making designs like this for a few decades now. I am pretty concerned about the cities ability to actually implement a functional non-motorized network. Right now, as an example, we can't get the city to take the non-motorized network we already have through downtown seriously. It's not a priority. it's incomplete, and what is there is consistently blocked by cars, including city vehicles. We can't figure out which city staff is in charge or how to get the city to follow through on their own promises. The city doesn't try small bets and experiment. Why not close down a lane on Michigan ave and make it a protected bike lane and expanded walking/rolling space... right now? Ya'll could do that virtually overnight. See how it works. The city not being able to manage the current bits of tiny complete streets infrastructure they do have make me skeptical about giving the same people millions of dollars for a street redesign. If public input charrettes solved this problem, we'd be there. If engineered renderings from consultants solved this problem, we'd be there.
Name not shown inside City Boundary April 13, 2020, 7:02 PM
Why do we need public input to do the right thing? The suggested improvements should be minimal requirements in any city. It gets me down that this process drags on while obvious needed improvements lag. Yes, the sidewalks should be wider, and this could be a complete street with bike lanes with better signal timing at Gull Road.
Name not shown inside City Boundary April 13, 2020, 6:59 PM
Don't lose the Lovell street grid continuation. Chicago has great oblique angle buildings. Does everything need to be traffic-engineered first? Engineer for people. I think the separation of Oakland and Stadium/Michigan is preferable as shown, but don't put too much parkland in here... it's just no man's land... Destined to be ugly if not filled. Intensive development would help. Keep a bike / pedestrian connection from Oakland to South or Michigan...it's necessary. Whatever you do, don't tear down the giant tree on WMU's property--the new connector to Oakland paves it over.