Blog: Eli Cooper

Used to be that all roads led to private autos but now with the Ann Arbor City Council's commitment to a Complete Streets program, roadblocks to alternative transport are buckling. Eli Cooper, Ann Arbor's transportation program manager, writes on how Washtenaw's county's working of more lanes for moto, bike, bus, rail, and foot travel means a road map redesign by 2041.

Post 2: From celebrating a baby's first steps to celebrating all walks of life

Okay, be honest. How important is walking? I'll bet that all of us can relate to baby's first steps. Come on, be honest now. In your family photo album, I'll bet that there is a photo or two of you taking your first steps--if not you, then at least your children. Of course, the first steps are a milestone, one that is celebrated. Remember when you saw a baby learning to walk? Did you think, "The fun begins now?"

The fun that begins for every parent when a baby takes his or her first steps triggers parental considerations of mobility and freedom. At first those steps are celebrated. Then comes the time to put up safety gates, elevate prized possessions, and make sure that the child and those possessions remain safe. So what if the price of that child's freedom entails the slight restricting of our own? We need to keep the little one safe!

Why is walking as a means of transportation not accorded that same care and consideration on the streets? You may already know that nearly 18% of all Ann Arbor residents walk to work and that an additional 8% walk to a public-transit site, then use that transit to reach the workplace. You may even be aware that the city recently adopted crosswalk-safety ordinances, including one that requires motorists to stop for people crossing a street in a marked crosswalk. That ordinance also requires drivers to stop for sidewalk users approaching the crosswalk.

Why did the city enact laws to provide for the protection of sidewalk users? The concern is for the safety and comfort of people circulating on Ann Arbor streets. As mentioned in a previous post, Ann Arbor has recently announced its intent to support the Complete Streets concept, wherein all individuals using our streets can comfortably meet their travel needs. Recent City Council action acknowledges that using Ann Arbor sidewalks should be celebrated and that motorists are required to respectfully allow users safe passage.

The next time that you see someone walking on our roadways, recall baby's first steps and do your part in celebrating walking. Provide a safe, comfortable environment for all walkers and sidewalk users. It's the right thing to do!

Tomorrow: One car = A dozen bikes