Home > Complete Streets, Design the Details, Editorial > Re: Images and comment on Garfield Ave.

Re: Images and comment on Garfield Ave.

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Talking the walk

Walking Garfield Ave.

The City’s counts for vehicles per day is around 15,000 for Garfield Ave. A road conversion is well within range (FHWA) if the City wants it as VPD is only a single factor, yet still in the sweet spot.

At issue, yesterday’s depiction of Garfield Ave.

From Brian, are tree lawns for cars or trees?

Unbelievable. Just a week or so ago there was a story in the news about the folks and tree service who were heavily fined for cutting a tree in the city right of way on State Street (RE). Thousands of dollars for one incident. I’m not saying that it was OK, and it made a strong statement about what happens to people who take private actions on public property….Now I look at these photos and see PERMANENT PARKING LOTS on public right of way!!! What kind of sick double standard is that? How many trees could those areas be supporting in “tree city” if there was even an opportunity to plant them? It sure would be nice for someone to take the time to investigate the permitting of these parking areas (or lack thereof) and determine if we’ve been giving away public property for crappy strip mall development while we’re fining people for touching it elsewhere without a permit….

A reminder from Richard, it’s not just Garfield Ave., but adjacent side-streets as well:

Right on! I work on Hastings Road, 1 block east of Garfield. I bike the route you walked fairly regularly, what a pain dodging cars parked at the dealerships, figuring out how to taverse ditches, landscaping, etc. Sidewalks are sparse along Hastings as well, a hardship for those on foot/wheelchair accessing Father Fred’s. In the winter it’s not unusual to see motorized wheelchairs traveling down the middle of Hastings road, since the right-of-way is buried in snowdrifts. I have been told that sidewalks are not required for leased properties, which are abundant along Hastings?

Another reader sees a related problem city-wide, parking across sidewalks:

Beyond doubt, ALL the traffic corridors, certainly within our city, require renewed attention and serious upgrading from the viewpoint of safe pedestrian circulation. But, as a long-time central city resident, allow me to widen the question a bit further. In those neighborhoods where sidewalks have been a long-established residential amenity the city has been and remains consistently lax in disallowing car parking which overhangs and obstructs the public sidewalk. (I can recall having to ask a neighbor, a TC police officer, to please cease from continually parking his own vehicle in a way that entirely blocked the sidewalk in front of his house.) There are communities where such offenses are subject to a citation. It’s time that Traverse City was among them.

Over on Facebook, fellow stroad buster Meika sees potential for expanding the transportation lexicon:

I think the phrase “sh*t hole” should be used more frequently in transportation circles. Chuck Marohn coined “STROAD”… maybe you could set the official definition of “sh*t hole.” It could be a photo contest!

And, from the devil advocate’s corner, our friend Mike Grant:

I don’t know that you’re making a specific policy prescription here (I suppose “retrofitting” could be a lot of things) but to the extent you’re talking about dramatically narrowing Garfield in a short period of time I think I would disagree that that would be a wise move….

My point is that if somehow Garfield could be shrunk so as to make car travel through there more difficult (again, this may not actually be your prescription, and I’m sure you would call for much more than that) I think that the current auto-oriented businesses would do much worse and I think it isn’t likely that ones that were more ped/bike/transit friendly would do much better, because there simply isn’t enough dense housing in that area to support many businesses that cater to people that live close by. Maybe Nesbit’s is an exception.

This is as opposed to, say, around where you live, where I think that there is enough density, as well as the infrastructure (sidewalks, narrower streets, zoning), such that if the City had the guts to slow 8th and add ped/bike/transit improvements then you would probably see more and more viable retail along there which catered to people in the neighborhood. I think where you live is similar in that regard to maybe Cass, Union, and West Front, where you’ve got an arterial running through a neighborhood that has density and some or all of that same infrastructure.

Not that it wouldn’t hurt to have this corridor planning document say we should put Garfield on a diet (maybe it does already, but I doubt it) but in the absence of that sort of thing I put my hope in the increasing attraction and densifying of the downtown and its surroundings continuing to increase the car traffic to the point that folks in the surrounding neighborhoods say, hey, we need to provide more ped/bike/transit improvements and put some of these roads on a diet. And hopefully have that phenomenon then cascade out from the downtown to the surrounding neighborhoods. Of course, that’s not really what’s happened so far…

MG also misses wide open comments.

By the way, I miss you having the open posting on your blog where people could comment/thumbs up/thumbs down. This probably will not come as a shock to you considering I was maybe one of the biggest users/abusers of that system. But just saying…

We’re still in trial period for the new format, so thank you for the feedback.

For the record, for this mile section of Garfield Ave. my expectations are pretty low, despite the opportunity being so great. One thing you’ll notice in the images is a lack of cars. Where there are cars in the images, I had to wait for them. It really is an overbuilt corridor.

I’m concerned  that the current make-up at the City lacks the efficacy to replace parking lots with sidewalks, let alone promote a significant road conversion…but trying to be hopeful.

Resource: Corridor Improvement Plan.

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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of writers previously published here or any of the organizations, committees, commissions or other affiliation the authors may belong to, unless so stated.

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