The city of Grand Rapids officially inaugurated its first "Complete Street" last week when a 1.2 mile stretch along Lake Drive SE near Carlton Street was declared as one friendly to pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders and motor vehicle drivers.
It is the first city street to be officially recognized as a Complete Street because of the addition of bike lanes and sharrows (signs), pedestrian crossings at every intersection, enhanced bus stops with seating, and newly paved vehicular travel lanes.
"It's very exciting because this is what needs to happen," says Suzanne Schulz, Grand Rapids Planning Director, noting that the designation is more than paint and signs. "It's really a statement in that there is a new way of looking at streets in Grand Rapids. It's giving people options besides a car. The streets are for all people of all ages and abilities."
A recent reconstruction of Lake Drive between Diamond Avenue and Carlton Avenue did not make the street wider but it did introduce lane markings for bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation vehicles.
Complete streets are designed to encourage healthier lifestyles, reduce transportation costs, enhance community connections and create a more environmentally-friendly community. The state legislature is working on a law that would encourage communities throughout Michigan to promote Complete Streets. More information can be found at the National Complete Streets Coalition website here.
Sharon Hanks is innovations and jobs news editor at Rapid Growth Media. Please send story ideas and comments for the column to Sharon at [email protected]. She also is owner of The Write Words in Grand Rapids.