It’s hard to think of Michigan without thinking of the automobile. But we’re doing our best to change that.
For far too long, local and statewide car-centric transportation policies focused on accommodating motorists alone and failed to address the needs of non-motorized roadway users — including pedestrians, bicyclists, older citizens and persons with disabilities.
This outdated mode of thinking must change.
Now, Michigan has the chance to join 13 other states in passing Complete Streets legislation. Today, the House Transportation Committee is scheduled to vote on two bills — HB6151 and 6152 — that require planners and engineers design roads to accommodate all users, regardless of age or ability. Such legislation, by creating safer, healthier and more livable communities, will make Michigan a place where people want to settle. It will attract both tourists and new residents. It will boost the economy and spur economic revitalization. It will help Michigan regain its rightful place as a leader in transportation — all modes of transportation.
Many communities — including Lansing, Flint, Jackson, and Midland – have already adopted local complete streets ordinances/resolutions or have drafted non-motorized transportation plans. Additionally, more than 70 diverse organizations, nonprofits, and businesses have partnered with the Michigan Complete Streets Coalition to voice their concerted support for statewide complete streets policies.
The coalition is led by the League of Michigan Bicyclists, the Michigan Environmental Council, and AARP. Coalition members represent health and fitness groups, such as the Michigan Fitness Foundation and the American Heart Association; the disability and aging community, like the Michigan Development Disabilities Council; environmental groups such as the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and the Michigan Land Use Institute; bicycling organizations, such as the Program to Educate All Cyclists; and the transit community, such as Transportation Riders United.
This growing coalition exemplifies the strong grassroots support for complete streets policies throughout the state, especially on the statewide level. The past two hearings on the Complete Streets bills have had a great turnout, with standing-room-only space at each meeting. Additionally, more than 30 organizations and businesses — some aligned with the coalition, others independently — have submitted written or verbal testimony in support of the legislation.
They believe, as we do, that passing statewide Complete Streets legislation will make Michigan a safer, healthier, and stronger place to live.
Update: Both bills passed out of the House Transportation Committee unanimously (with a pass by Rep. Opsommer) with substitute language.
Editor’s note: If you live in Michigan, take action today! Send a note to the House Transportation Committee Members expressing your support for HB 6151 and 6152 and write to your state Representative and Senator.
Cross-posted on the Alliance for Biking & Walking’s People Powered Blog.