Biking Shorts - July 9, 2012
By Barbara Schmid
GVMC Non-Motorized Plan Reviewed
The Grand Valley Metro Council’s Non-Motorized Transportation Committee recently met to discuss ideas as they update their Non-Motorized Plan. The existing plan was completed in 2009.
GVMC Transportation Planner Andrea Dewey led the meeting and asked for input from the 25 or so people in attendance. The goal is to identify key corridors to improve regional connectivity, assess the infrastructure project list and consider a traffic count program to provide metrics for grant applications.
“In the three years since the GVMC Non-Motorized Plan was drafted, the region has taken great strides developing new infrastructure and enacting the principles of ‘complete streets,’” Dewey said. “We are excited to include many more bicycle facilities in the Non-motorized Plan update this year, thanks in part to encouragement from the bicycling community and GGRBC.”
The committee will meet again next month.
M-21 Bridge Now Open Over Thornapple River
It’s taken two long years, but the new bridge on M-21 over the Thornapple River in Ada is finally open.
I checked in with Ada planner Jim Ferro to find out if the temporary bridge could be kept for non-motorized traffic. He responded that it will be torn down, although keeping it was an option they had considered. Turns out MDOT said it would be too expensive to build as a permanent structure. It also didn’t meet MDEQ floodplain regulations, so the permit was for a temporary bridge.
The total deck of the new bridge is about 70 feet with 4, 12 foot travel lanes planned and 4-foot shoulders on each side. A 14-foot wide separated section will be added to the north side of the bridge for non-motorized traffic.
“The Township paid $243,000 in local matching funds for an enhancement grant to pay for having this (non-motorized section) added to the new bridge,” Ferro said. “We plan on constructing the connecting trails to the bridge either this fall or next spring, depending on how soon the bridge contractor finishes their work.”
Bicycle traffic would be actually be safer with a separated path on each side of the bridge rather than on just one side. The current plan makes cyclists traveling west to east cross Fulton twice to use the separated path. But if the township stripes the 4-foot wide shoulders on the bridge as designated bicycle lanes, that would allow cyclists to move with the flow of traffic.
Grand Rapids Bicycle Company Expands Into EGR
Last fall, the Tom Smith family bought the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company and moved it to a new location at 1200 East Paris, next to Bill & Paul’s. The bike shop sells and services bicycles, and recently started Wednesday evening family rides of 10-12 miles.
Four weeks ago, they opened an adjoining restaurant, the Trailhead Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday.
They now plan to open a second bike shop in EGR on Lovett Street, potentally this month. Stay tuned for the ribbon cutting!
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) three years ago were encouraged to find ways to work together. This was made possible by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
The Partnership created new technical and grant assistance programs that have benefitted more than 700 communities. Some of the projects it facilitated include the MIchigan Street Corridor in downtown GR, Pittsburgh Riverfront, multi-modal transportation redevelopment in Houston and public transit in Denver.
Other projects the Partnership helped make possible, according to an article in American City (http://americancity.org/forefront/view/inside-job) and www.smartgrowth.org:
HUD has supported 152 grants in 48 states, investing $240 million plus $253 million of leveraged public-private funds into innovative projects. A Community Challenge Grant in Memphis, TN helped revitalize neighborhoods surrounding the city’s airport and enabled the creation of more than 4,500 jobs at companies such as FedEx, Electrolux, Mitsubishi and Nucor Steel.
Likewise in more rural communities like Thurston County, WA, HUD Regional Planning Grants are enabling planning processes that will allow for successful responses to population growth, demographic change and pressing economic, transportation and environmental concerns.
DOT has delivered on 218 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The unbelievably successful TIGER program, designed to encourage innovative transportation solutions through a competitive grant process, is just part of $3.1 billion invested in America’s transportation.
(Attribution: Smart Growth America)