Dangerous by Design
(a new series)
Do you see anything wrong with this scene besides being an imperfect panoramic?
How about complete disregard for people who might happen to be using this area to walk or ride bike. This is how the City left the construction site at Division and Grandview over memorial weekend, one of the busiest weekends of the year. Did they even for a minute think about the hundreds, if not thousands of people who’d be passing through here over the last three days? It is already a difficult intersection to cross let alone having to deal with the complete mismanagement of a construction zone.
Did any of you navigate this site over the weekend? How did you manage? (If it was after Sunday afternoon, you might have noticed a slight change as it was opened up by volunteers.)
If you had an experience at this location and/or care about this issue, please consider sending the city manager and city commissioners an email TODAY to demand consideration and accessibility for all road users be “an essential part of highway construction, utility work, maintenance operations, and the management of traffic incidents” as described in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (PDF). This is the city’s responsibility–not a contractor’s, not a non-profit agency’s, but the City’s responsibility.
“Ben Bifoss” <email@example.com>, “Chris Bzdok” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Jim Carruthers” <email@example.com>, “Barbara Budros” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Mary Ann Moore” <email@example.com>, “Jody Bergman” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Mike Gillman” <email@example.com>
What follows is my letter and is not intended as a template. Your’s can certainly be more concise and to the point.
To: City Manager Bifoss,
Upon rolling up to the Division-Grandview Ave. crosswalk this past weekend, I was flabbergasted at the lack of consideration for people walking or cycling in the construction area. There are certainly rules and guidelines that address situations like this, and I’d hope that basic common sense would have prevailed as well. Unfortunately, applications of both were found to be lacking.
Memorial weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year city-wide, and is particularly a busy weekend for people utilizing the bayfront and adjacent multi-use trails and crosswalks. Yet, the signage and barriers at Div./Grandview completely blocked off access to an entire corner. This was not merely an inconvenience, this put hundreds of people in real danger as the arrangement gave no option other than to use the roadway on Division St. for travel north or south between Bay St. and the crosswalk. There was literally no alternative given for people on foot, bicycle or wheelchair to reach the bayfront or Bay St. This is completely irresponsible.
On Sunday, I watched several groups of people cross successfully (they weren’t hit or killed), but they crossed with confusion, frustration and high level of stress. Many of them were crossing with young children. I was told by one passerby that teenagers had earlier knocked down part of the orange barrier fence to access the torn-up sidewalk crossing Bay St., but that still didn’t serve all visitors, many of whom were reluctant to cross an official looking line.
I then assisted a volunteer from TART Trails make minor improvements to provide clear direction and guide for people crossing this busy intersection. I’ve provided images below showing the before and after (more images here). We also improved the construction area at Bay St. and M-72 that similarly lacked consideration for people expecting to use the multi-use trail.
This is another example of the City’s lack of attention to basic provisions for people not in an automobile using our public rights of ways. The City needs to be ashamed, as this is not a one-time over-sight. This is another example that communicates a lack of understanding, and/or consideration, to not only the needs of people on foot or bicycle, but also to the basic responsibilities of government: the safety and security of citizens.
I appreciate the improvements being made in this section of the City. I’m proud that the City Commission recently voted to contribute to the widening of a gem of a trail. I also appreciate the discussions around the principles of complete streets I’ve had with City staff over the past 2 years in a number of forums, particularly in the transportation elements committee. That said, and despite of all the talk, staff continues to show a pattern of indifference, if not outright callousness, to fundamental tenets of streets designed for all users. This is only the latest example.
Complete streets are simply common sense and include the practice of providing for all users through temporary work zones. In fact, as I’m sure you’re aware, it is already standard in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices-part 6)(PDF) adopted in 2005. I’m not sure who ultimately is responsibly for situations like this, but it is certainly someone who either is ignoring the MUTCD, severely lacking common sense or could care less.
What can we do to help the City improve? Providing for non-motorized transportation is a re-occurring theme in this City, yet it seems like every project undertaken remains a struggle for those of us advocating for safe, convenient and comfortable choices.
Where is the leadership?
Traverse City, MI