Our two goals are: 1) more housing/businesses and 2) better biking/walking. These goals work together.
Lower Town is one of the most accessible spots in Washtenaw County, meaning it is very easy to reach important destinations from there, and vice versa. The more housing is located within easy walking, cycling, or transit distance of the many jobs at the hospital, campus, and downtown, the more people will move to that housing, from out of town. In turn, that many fewer workers drive through Lower Town to get to and from their jobs.
With more people biking and walking in the area, drivers proceed more carefully because there is more to look at and more to watch out for. Studies show safety improves both for drivers and non-motorists, as more walkers and bicyclists use an area. As an area becomes safer and more pleasant for pedestrians to use, more people want to live there. And the more people live there, the more businesses (such as grocery stores) can be economically viable.
Why do we want to improve walking and cycling in Lower Town? We all know walking and biking is great for our health and the environment. This resource from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute shows walkable communities do better economically, as well. And “walkable housing” offers more affordable living than housing that requires a lot of driving. (According to the AAA, owning and operating a vehicle costs an average of $9,722 per year.)
There are many traffic calming strategies that might be helpful in Lower Town, such as median islands, chicanes, and speed tables. The goal is to smooth traffic flow, so drivers proceed slowly but efficiently–instead of rushing up to stop lights (the “hurry up and wait” syndrome, which is bad for both drivers and pedestrians!). Check out these resources:
There are many examples of infrastructure that could make the area safer for bicycling, such as:
- Bikes lanes that are connected and continuous
- Bike lanes that are buffered from traffic
- Bike boxes (pavement markings for bikes at the head of intersections)
Exciting potential exists in Lower Town for connections to the Border-to-Border Trail.
Click the map below for details: