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fotoman311

Complete Streets in Grand Rapids

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Lake Drive was closed down west of Eastown this afternoon for a ribbon cutting ceremony for Grand Rapids' first Complete Street. As the Green Grand Rapids Master Plan updates finalized and adopted, they hope to draft and pass a Complete Streets ordinance, so that all of our roads in Grand Rapids can safely accommodate many types road users where practical, including bicyclists, transit users, motorists, pedestrians, and people with physical impairments.

Representatives from the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition and Disability Advocates of Kent County spoke in front of a Rapid bus and GRFD firetruck. Then Mayor Heartwell gave a proclamation in support of Complete Streets, followed by the ribbon cutting. Commissioners Schaffer, Kelly, White, and Gutowski were there in support of the ribbon cutting and Commissioner Gutowski was even sporting a Freewheeler Bike Shop shirt and had ridden a bicycle to the event.

Here's a video I took of part of the proclamation and the ribbon cutting.

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I saw them setting up for this event (juncture of Benjamin and Lake Drive) as I was tooling along on my bike yesterday. Couldn't stay for it, unfortunately.

May there be many more Complete Streets in GR in the future!

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Can you find me? Greg Sundstrom likes my don't-hit-me mesh vest.

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I have seen people walking in the bike lane with a child in a stroller. I have also seen adults riding with their children (who still have training wheels on, mind you) in the bike lane.

I don't think these types of semi-regular occurrences (I drive this street everyday) reflect well on the intentions of the grown and mature adults who want this bike lane because they understand and accept the consequences of sharing a laneway with 2 ton vehicles.

If walking and riding in the street is the direction Grand Rapids is going then why am I paying for sidewalks?

I'm not saying get rid of the bike lanes. I like them. They keep bicyclers in their own lane.

What I don't like is the inconsiderate usage of those bike lanes that puts the safety of innocent children and others in jeopardy.

There should be fines for improper usage of those bike lanes with posted signs designating such.

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I have seen people walking in the bike lane with a child in a stroller. I have also seen adults riding with their children (who still have training wheels on, mind you) in the bike lane.

I don't think these types of semi-regular occurrences (I drive this street everyday) reflect well on the intentions of the grown and mature adults who want this bike lane because they understand and accept the consequences of sharing a laneway with 2 ton vehicles.

If walking and riding in the street is the direction Grand Rapids is going then why am I paying for sidewalks?

I'm not saying get rid of the bike lanes. I like them. They keep bicyclers in their own lane.

What I don't like is the inconsiderate usage of those bike lanes that puts the safety of innocent children and others in jeopardy.

There should be fines for improper usage of those bike lanes with posted signs designating such.

I think you're being sarcastic, but the City of GR is not supporting walking in the street by building and supporting Complete Streets. Sidewalks are for walking. Riding on sidewalks in urbanized and many suburban areas is often significantly more dangerous than riding in the road, both for bicyclists and pedestrians.

You're getting into a touchy area. If there are signs notifying bicyclists they will be fined for improper use of a bicycle lane, there should also be signs everywhere there is a road, notifying people in motor vehicles that there will be fines if they do not operate their 2 ton, potentially deadly, vehicles in an irresponsible manner.

The money you'd like to spend on signs should instead be spent on education so that people can learn how to use these new lanes in a safe and proper manner. There is a bill sitting in the State House of Rep. that would require basic bicycle education to be taught in driver's education, including the proper use of bicycle lanes. But, the needs go far beyond that.

Basic bicycle education should be taught in elementary school. If you introduce kids to the basic rules of the road at an early age, they'll be that much more prepared when they get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Also, there are obviously many people on the road who won't be taking a driver's ed. course anytime soon.

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How are intersections handled with these bike lanes? I hope there isn't any laws preventing bicyclists from merging into the car lanes for left turns.

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I think you're being sarcastic, but the City of GR is not supporting walking in the street by building and supporting Complete Streets.

I understand that they are not and I was being sarcastic. They also are not doing anything that I've seen/read about to correct problems related to improper usage of the bike lanes.

Basic bicycle education should be taught in elementary school. If you introduce kids to the basic rules of the road at an early age, they'll be that much more prepared when they get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Also, there are obviously many people on the road who won't be taking a driver's ed. course anytime soon.
Agreed. The details of which (like "is it a required course?") are for another conversation. Something should also be done about motorists who seem to think that the marked white lines mean the bike lane is another car lane. I have seen two cars now in the past two weeks drive the entire length of Lake Drive over the bike lanes. I have also witnessed 3 cars, each on different dates, continue through the Fuller / Lake Drive intersection when they were in the right hand turn only lane as I was headed west on Lake towards downtown. A learning curve for new road renovations (like the roundabouts) is one thing but complete disregard for signs and the obvious fact that they could have proceeded with a legal right hand turn down Fuller then turned left onto a side street or Fulton to complete their trip is another.

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How are intersections handled with these bike lanes? I hope there isn't any laws preventing bicyclists from merging into the car lanes for left turns.

It would appear that the traffic safety dept is up on Federal bike lane design guidelines. The lane stripes stop (are not there) for intersections and driveways. It's interesting to see that the white stripe was installed in a solid line, and then erased from the pavement, with a grinder, as needed.

At the event, this troubled me: the head of The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition commented, in his prepared remarks that (paraphrasing) "this white line does more to keep me safe than anything else." In my experience, this is inaccurate at best.

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My first experience riding a bicycle in an urban setting was a few years ago in Luxembourg. Before then, I had always been incredulous at cyclists in the street when I was driving. I always saw the street as a place for cars only. But riding on the sidewalk in Luxembourg City was next to impossible, and I finally got the picture after a number of people yelled at me "dans la rue!" Somehow, I missed that riding in the street is common practice in many parts of the world, the USA included (anyone have testimonials here?) We in Grand Rapids need to think of streets as a place for more than just vehicles, and that takes drivers especially being considerate and sharing the road. Hopefully this project helps people do that.

Also, I think you guys will like this article about Toronto:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/794489--score-one-for-the-bikes

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Back when I lived in Ann Arbor we just called them bike lanes and didn't have ribbon cutting ceremonies simply because a street was paved and a white line drawn on it. This whole "Green Grand Rapids" schtick is going to have a rather short shelf life, if it hasn't already expired. I'm getting tired of it, to say the least. The whole concept of ripping an existing thing apart to replace it with something "green" is fundamentally flawed from an energy usage standpoint.

Normally, if a usable lane is sacrificed to bicycles, it isn't going to green up anything. It's just going to waste asphalt and tie up traffic. Here, a bike lane made sense because they didn't have other good options. Lake Drive was a minefield, and worthless--if not dangerous--as a two lane road because the intersections all funneled down to a single lane. It would have cost far more in land acquisition costs and infrastructure improvements to move to a proper two lane than it cost to lop off a 10 foot section for unused car parking and a bike lane.

Not to put a damper on anything, but I'm not a big fan of false marketing. Of course, I am a big fan of not having some nitwit on his bike clogging up my lane by cruising down the middle of it like its his personal fiefdom while I'm trying to get to work. These cranks on bikes who think it's acceptable to cruise down the middle of Wealthy with a line of 20 cars behind them need an attitude adjustment. I would be more than happy to have them out of my way, although it should be noted that some studies have shown a dedicated lane actually decreases rider safety.

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Well, the reason some take the middle of the lane (which I do) is for safety reasons. Taking the side of the lane really doesn't help any -- the traffic behind still has to cross over into the opposing lane to pass or, if they don't, end up passing within dangerous inches of the bicyclist. By taking the middle of the lane, I make people angry, but guarantee my safety by forcing a full lane change (or none at all) so that inconsiderate drivers don't nearly knock me to the ground with their side mirrors.

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Well - the Grand Rapids Press editorial for today jumped on the bandwagon as well. They must read UP :whistling:

Editorial: Michigan lawmakers should approve Complete Streets bill to focus on more than motorists

We’ve all seen it when we’re driving along in our automobiles. The cars are clipping along just fine. But there on the side, you spot a fellow traveler on foot, pushing a stroller, riding a bike or using a wheelchair. And that person is in peril. The road was built with zero thought for him or her. No bike lane, no sidewalk, nothing for safe transit for those outside a car. All a passing motorist can do in that instant is slow down, pay extra attention and pray for safe travels.

But Michigan can and should do better. It’s time for the state to motor toward smarter transportation planning. “Complete Streets” legislation pending in Lansing would help get us to that destination. The Senate should pass it promptly, following the measure’s recent wide-margin approval in the House.

Complete Streets is a movement gaining ground nationally. More than a dozen states, plus Grand Rapids and a growing number of cities nationwide, already have passed bills that encourage planning for safer, more livable and welcoming roads. Upgrading or building a street? Good, but how about planning for a sidewalk, bike lane, good crossing spots and pedestrian signs? How about a bus lane and pleasant bus stops?

The goal is to modernize transportation policies that for decades focused solely on accommodating motorists, and often were blind to needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, older citizens and those with disabilities. Too often, transportation planners had a default setting that forced people into cars for safe travel. The result is people have been robbed of options for getting around.

The legislation in Lansing is largely a planning tool for state and local government. It begins with establishing the premise that Complete Streets are important to the livability of communities.

Local road agencies already are required to develop long-range plans, and the legislation requires that smart streets are part of that conversation.

The state transportation agency would be charged with making it easier for communities to accomplish that through goal-setting and planning expertise. A Complete Streets Advisory Council would be formed within the transportation department, with representatives from government (such as traffic engineers, road commissions and transit planners) and a variety of community groups (including AARP, bicyclists and disability advocates).

The legislation has broad support from community groups, including senior advocates, Safe Routes to Schools group, environmentalists, cyclists and others.

It’s also important to note that Michigan’s proposed Complete Streets law does not over-reach, or encourage senseless expenses or government intrusion. It acknowledges that road-planning needs vary according to urban, suburban and rural settings, and that local context and cost factors must be taken into consideration. One size does not fit all.

But it does accomplish making room for Michigan to show how it can be a leader in all forms of transportation. Complete Streets doesn’t knock the car from its perch as king of the road and as a central force in Michigan’s identity and economy. It simply establishes that two-footed or two-wheeled travelers also are good for our streets, our downtowns, businesses and neighborhoods.

Safe travels and Complete Streets: Both are good for Michigan.

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My first experience riding a bicycle in an urban setting was a few years ago in Luxembourg.

I was in Luxembourg last summer, thought I don't remember the bike situation too well. However, in neighboring Germany is was common for the bike lanes to be part of the sidewalk rather than the street, though I saw examples of both. The sidewalk lanes were still part of the sidewalk and you could walk there, but you'd just have to be careful not to get in the way of bikes.

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At the event, this troubled me: the head of The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition commented, in his prepared remarks that (paraphrasing) "this white line does more to keep me safe than anything else." In my experience, this is inaccurate at best.

This troubles me as well. I was thinking about this on my bike ride home from work (no bike lanes on my route, also no problems with other road users) and I think what keeps me safer than anything else is education and awareness. When I say that I don't just mean the education and awareness of people driving cars. When I venture out on my bike I follow the rules of the road to the best of my ability, just like when I drive my car. But I am also aware that I am small and harder to see than a car. I try my best to stay visible and be predictable. I'm always scanning, watching for parked cars pulling out, avoiding the door zone. I know that if I stop behind a bus at a light there's a good chance that other cars at the intersection won't be able to tell that I'm there if I don't stay back and proceed in a cautious manner. Unfortunately I see a lot of cyclists who are seriously lacking in education/awareness. The even sadder thing is that these are some of the same people who are very willing to blame problems on motor vehicle drivers. So, yeah I think the most important thing is that people know what they're doing. I could go on and on about this...

Anyway, bike lanes are a good idea and the help with traffic calming and reminding drivers that cyclists need a place on the road, but I'm not sure they are the most important thing of all.

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Saw this posted on another forum I frequent:

http://www.streetfilms.org/cycling-copenhagen-through-north-american-eyes/

Having been to Copenhagen, I can tell you that nothing shown in the video is exaggerated. It really is that bike friendly. It was kind of funny when the owner of the house I stayed at sounded rather apologetic for owning two cars and not biking much. Guess she didn't know she was talking to an American? :)

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Saw this guy riding a handcycle trying to get around at 28th and Wilson. He had just crossed from the southwest corner to the northwest corner and was working his way northwest towards Johnson Park on the well worn "desire" lines that run that direction from the curb cuts to nowhere. They are so well worn you can see them from space, http://maps.google.com/?ll=42.914179,-85.763829&spn=0.001065,0.002411&t=h&z=19.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotoman311/5980268318/in/photostream

5980268318_b5723dd09a_b.jpg

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There's a new bike underpass about a half mile west of this intersection connecting the Buck Creek Trail with the river. Much nicer than this path.

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There's a new bike underpass about a half mile west of this intersection connecting the Buck Creek Trail with the river. Much nicer than this path.

Really. According to this aerial, that underpass offers even less connectivity to the street system than the one Fotoman posted.

I am guessing that the user is not necessarily out to scoot down the Kent trails.

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Really. According to this aerial, that underpass offers even less connectivity to the street system than the one Fotoman posted.

http://maps.google.c...009152&t=h&z=17

I am guessing that the user is not necessarily out to scoot down the Kent trails.

Point taken. If connecting a bike with a street is the goal here, than the intersection of 28th St & I-196 is a better choice.

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Point taken. If connecting a bike with a street is the goal here, than the intersection of 28th St & I-196 is a better choice.

Actually, Amy and I both thought this person probably was headed for Johnson Park/Kent Trails. There's not a whole lot of other destinations he could have reached using this route. There are no sidewalks or desire trails north of Johnson Park on Wilson Ave.

I agree that the new trail to the west is a far easier route, but it's not signed at all, really, so if you didn't know it was there, it would be hard to find. Plus, it's still an extra 15-20 mins out of the way for this person to get to their destination if they are not coming from the west. People aren't going to travel 15-20 mins extra unless they REALLY have to. And they shouldn't be forced to by dangerous design, either. If you were in a car and you had to drive 15-20 mins out of your way, you'd be really annoyed, right?

I've found myself guilty of thinking the curb cuts to nowhere are a bit of a waste at times in the past, but I'm sure this gentleman is very thankful they exist to make part of his difficult route just a little easier. I really wish I could have seen him traverse the underpass under I-196 here, as it seems there is no easy option for a hand trike. He would have to ride on angle on the cement parts of the underpass. He probably does it on a regular basis and maybe it even seems "normal" to him. http://maps.google.com/?ll=42.914179,-85.763829&spn=0.001065,0.002411&t=h&z=19 Now I kind of wish I could meet him and ask him about his experiences riding in this area.

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