Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Isabella County Regional Non-Motorized Plan

Dayton bike trail
urban bike trail (photo by jhy)

based on a news article in the Central Michigan Morning Sun

Norm Cox of the Greenway Cooperative has recently issued a report saying that the "best way to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety is to increase the number of pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Isabella County, Union Township in particular, has hired Cox as consultant to develop a non-motorized pathway plan for the region. Central Michigan University, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the city of Mt. Pleasant are cooperating in the project.

Cox’s firm is the consultant hired by Union Township, in cooperation with the city of Mt. Pleasant, Isabella County, Central Michigan University and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe to develop a non-motorized pathway plan for the area.

The plans are being made without regard to the political boundaries. This ability to create a region-wide plan may give the county a head start on creating a model system of pathways. Cox says this is unique in the state and that it will help with funding.

The plan calls for tying together existing bicycle routes, such as those on the CMU campus and in the city’s riverfront parks, with bike routes on or close to main roads, marked neighborhood collector routes, and wayfaring signs.

For walkers, it calls for construction of wide sidewalks in developing areas, and more crossing islands on busy streets. He said those make crossing streets such as Mission Street safer, as well as slowing traffic.

The recommendations include turning some four-lane roads into three-lanes, transforming the extra lane for bicyclists. Although this is likely to be controversial, Cox says that it makes the overall route safer because drivers become aware of bicyclists and pedestrians.

Perhaps the most controversial of Cox’s expected recommendation is to turn some four-lane roads, such as Isabella, into three-lane roads with wide, striped-off shoulders usable for bike lanes.

Long-range plans include connecting with the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, which ends in Alma, and the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, which runs through Clare, with a trail through Isabella County.

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