Champion Spotlight: Kalamazoo, MI

This case study was written as part of our Dangerous by Design Technical Assistance program. This initiative brought together champions from across the country to advance street safety efforts through data collection and storytelling. This study was written by Nolan Bergstrom from the City of Kalamazoo.

A painted bike lane and flex pots help reclaim space for cyclists while a marked crosswalk and traffic light signal for cars to stop for pedestrians.

West Michigan Avenue, from Howard Street to the city limit, is the most dangerous corridor in Kalamazoo. This area is directly adjacent to Western Michigan University’s Main Campus and college housing. This stretch and further down West Michigan Avenue have seen three pedestrian fatalities involving drivers and college students, which have prompted major changes in this area.

Learn more about the history of the city’s streets by viewing this story map!


Howard Street and West Michigan are extremely busy because of the many modes of transportation coalescing near the intersection of West Michigan and Howard: buses, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. Howard Street is 108 feet curb to curb at the pedestrian crossing: six lanes, including two double-left-hand turns. West Michigan Avenue widens from four lanes to six lanes at this intersection, 83 feet curb to curb, with no mid-block crossings. This has caused conflicts when motorists speed, and pedestrians cross at non-designated pedestrian crossings.

Taking Action

Kalamazoo is in the process of implementing the safe systems approach to this corridor as a direct response to fatalities near WMU’s campus. Lighting has improved in areas of this corridor. There was a removal of one of two left turn lanes from Howard Street onto West Michigan Avenue as well as jersey barriers to stop mid-block crossings until proper facilities can be installed. There are plans to narrow travel lanes and enhance the area over time to be safer for all users.

In recent years, there has been a greater push for educating the public on traffic calming, Complete Streets, and more. The city works with local bike advocacy groups, neighborhood associations, and businesses when promoting or looking to host engagement or feedback events.

In 2022, the share of all traffic deaths that were people outside of vehicles hit the highest share in 40 years. Read more in Dangerous by Design

Complete Streets Transportation