The Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition has posted information on its website advocating against a pending change to the city of Ann Arbor’s crosswalk ordinance. The post includes a document with crash diagrams – extracted from official reports – of pedestrian accidents at non-signalized crosswalks over the last four years. [.pdf of crash diagrams] Instead of revising the ordinance, the WBWC wants to allow time for a recently established pedestrian safety task force to make a recommendation: “WBWC urges Council to utilize the newly formed Pedestrian Safety Task Force as a place to begin looking at all the crash data and prioritizing engineering, enforcement and educational measures that will enhance walkability in our community.” [Source]
Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Aug. 20, 2013): In a session that one member described as the “shortest meeting ever,” park commissioners heard presentations and updates, but had no action items on their agenda.
The main presentation focused on the Border-to-Border trail connections in Ann Arbor. The trail runs roughly along the Huron River from Livingston County in the north to Wayne County in the east, using paved shared-use paths, unpaved paths and bike lanes.
Larry Deck from the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition highlighted three areas that WBWC has identified as high priorities: (1) between Bandemer Park and Barton Park/Huron River Drive (the B2B trail ends at the north edge of Bandemer Park); (2) near the intersection of Fuller Road and Maiden Lane; and (3) near the Fuller Road bridge over the Huron River.
Another WBWC priority is to improve the bicycling connections between the University of Michigan’s central and north campuses.
Deck suggested that PAC consider a resolution recommending to city council that these projects be designed and funded, and in general renew the priority of the B2B trail along the Huron River greenway. It’s been a city priority for decades, he noted, but it’s good to have a reminder of that.
Discussion among commissioners focused on the challenges of crossing railroad tracks at various points along the B2B route, as well as interest in coordinating with other projects like the recommendations of the North Main Huron River corridor task force.
During the meeting, commissioners also got an annual update from George Taylor, president of the Cobblestone Farm Association, as well as briefings from PAC’s dog park and downtown park subcommittees. Results from surveys to solicit public input for both subcommittees are now available, and will be analyzed by commissioners and staff in preparation for upcoming public forums. [.pdf of 306-page dog park survey results] [.pdf of 110-page downtown park survey results]
Two public forums are scheduled for the downtown park project: On Monday, Sept. 9 in the basement of the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., and on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at city hall’s basement conference room, 301 E. Huron, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
The dog park subcommittee – which is looking for a possible location for a third dog park – will hold a public forum on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at Cobblestone Farms, 2781 Packard. In noting the history of opposition to proposals for a dog park at West Park, Tim Berla wondered whether it would be possible to locate a dog park anywhere near a residential neighborhood. It’s a “classic Ann Arbor trap,” he said – everyone is in favor of it, until something specific is proposed and the neighbors say no.
In his manager’s report, Colin Smith highlighted several upcoming events. The annual season-closing “dog swim” at Buhr Park pool will be held on Sept. 4 and Sept. 5 from 3-8 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. in Liberty Plaza – the downtown park at Division and Liberty – a grand opening will be held for the “sensory garden” there. It’s a project of the Ann Arbor commission on disability issues, in collaboration with the city’s adopt-a-park program and the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
Smith also noted that the popularity of Argo Cascades has led to a shortage of parking in that area. As a result, beginning Labor Day weekend the staff will start using a portion of Longshore Park to park cars. It’s a short-term measure while the staff seeks longer-term solutions, he said.
Temperatures hit the high 70s at Sunday’s Artisan Market near Kerrytown, where volunteers for Common Cycle were helping people learn about bicycle repair.
And as the weather gets warmer, the primary election season will also start to heat up – just as surely as journalists will appeal to hackneyed clichés to describe it. For local office candidates, as well as commentators on local races, part of the sport is to categorize the community into convenient groupings – like parents, homeowners, renters, students, landlords, environmentalists, developers, new urbanists, preservationists, park-lovers, young professionals, old hippies, the handicapped, business people, transit riders, etc.
I’m not certain that bicyclists would make the list as a voter group. But they’ll serve to make the point I want to make.
Yes, that non-exhaustive list of groupings is a sometimes useful and convenient set of labels. But just as the word “zebra” is a convenient label for those horse-shaped animals with a black and white pattern of stripes, that doesn’t mean that all of those “zebras” are necessarily biologically related.
The title of this column, in fact, is a play on the title of a fairly famous essay by Stephen Jay Gould: “What, If Anything, Is a Zebra?” That essay was written back in the early ’80s and I’m not sure if the evolutionary biologists ever settled the question. I don’t really care – zebras don’t live around these parts, and even if they did, they’re notorious non-voters.
But bicyclists do live around here. And they’ll serve as well as any grouping to illustrate the fact that among any “community” we include in a list of labels, there’ll be smaller sub-communities that have more specialized interests. So we’d do well to avoid thinking of these convenient labels as reflective of any one coherent community.
This column takes a look at three groups of people that could fairly be labeled “bicyclists,” with the idea that they’re separate groups, with maybe some overlap in people, but which are fundamentally different: Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition, Bicycles Are Traffic, and Common Cycle. I look at each group through the lens of one of their events I’ve attended over the last week and a half.
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (March 1, 2010) Part 2: Editor’s note: The major themes of the council meeting – the 3% budget directive, a ban on use of cell phones while driving, and a planned unit development called The Moravian – are covered in Part 1 of the March 1, 2010 meeting meeting report.
The council scrapped the city’s existing bicycle registration program at its Monday night meeting, but gave an assurance to a representative of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition that it would soon be replaced with something better.
Mayor John Hieftje used his communications time to rebut criticism of the planned Fuller Road Station – both with respect to its funding and its siting. While he assured critics that funding for the project would not come from the general fund, he allowed that he did not know how the project would be paid for.
And Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) reiterated enthusiasm for Ann Arbor’s response to a request for information by Google about a local fiber-optic network. He had also introduced the topic at a recent council meeting focusing on the budget.
The city administrator’s report to the council included updates on construction projects.
The city also continued a monthly recognition of its parks volunteers with a mayoral proclamation honoring Praveena and Madhan Ramaswami for their efforts to improve Bromley Park by organizing biannual events to remove invasive plants, plant flowers, and clean up the park.