Initial findings from Ann Arbor's Lower Town study highlight sidewalk gaps, bike infrastructure

Sidewalk gaps and bicycle infrastructure will be among the key topics discussed in a public Zoom meeting tonight, July 29, on the initial findings of Ann Arbor's Lower Town mobility study.

 

The study, which began in October 2019, was launched after Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution in 2017 requesting that officials identify the resources needed to review and update previous studies of vehicular, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic leading to and traveling through Lower Town.

 

A part of Ann Arbor's north side, the Lower Town area includes Pontiac Trail, Broadway Street, Plymouth Road, Moore Street, Wall Street, and Maiden Lane. The area sees a high volume of commuter traffic due to the presence of the University of Michigan Hospital. The 24-month-long study will address impacts and safety issues for travelers in the light of increasing traffic.

 

"The main concern is in the area of mobility. That includes congestion and safety concerns for all modes of travel in Lower Town," says Luke Liu, the study's project manager.

 

He adds, "in existing conditions we're seeing congestion and some crash issues. As we anticipate some pretty significant growth in the future, we know that if we leave this problem untouched it just may exacerbate itself."

 

Starting at 6 p.m., Liu will be joined by city officials and consultants to share initial findings and results of a road safety audit.

 

Briefly previewing a few of the highlights, he says one of the findings specifies the need for improvements to existing sidewalk ramps.

 

"There are ramps that are already there, but sometimes the connection between a sidewalk and a crosswalk are not perfectly aligned and can impact the visually impaired," Liu explains.

 

Another item to be discussed is existing sidewalk gaps. Liu points to a finding that identified a gap in the sidewalk on the south side of Broadway between Maiden Lane and where Broadway turns into Plymouth Road. He adds that the city has already filled the gap.

 

Bicycle infrastructure transitions (the area where a designated bicycle lane ends and there is mixed bike and car traffic) will also be highlighted. Liu says two specific locations will be discussed. One is outbound Barton Drive before and after Pontiac Trail, and the other is inbound Broadway Street where Broadway becomes Beakes Street.

 

Regarding the latter location, Liu says, "we're lacking some signage and markings to properly terminate the designated bike lane and transition to mixed use."

 

Residents joining tonight's public engagement session will have opportunities to ask questions and weigh in with their own concerns and input.

 

"The more we hear from the general public, at the meeting or at any time during the study, the better," Liu says. "The general public are our eyes and ears and can really help us understand the area better."

 

More information on the meeting is available here.

 

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.

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