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Residents Can Shape Traverse City's Transportation Future

Planning Commission requests input in transportation survey

Choices | June 14, 2013 | By Zoë McAlear

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Smart Commute Week got a lot of people thinking about the ups and downs of transportation in Traverse City. As people sought out new ways to get to work by walking or riding bikes, they may have noticed ways in which the city streets helped or hindered their commute. And now, the Planning Commission’s sub-committee on Active Transportation wants to hear from TC residents about how the city can improve its bike and pedestrian network.  

The Planning Commission formed a sub-committee last year in order to develop an Active Transportation Plan that would initiate a process to improve the transportation infrastructure in Traverse City. They’ve spent the majority of the past year building up their knowledge base by examining the city’s existing transportation infrastructure and policy. Now they’ve opened it up to the public and they want to hear from residents.  

During Smart Commute Week, the group approached commuters with a map of the city and asked them to put a numbered star somewhere on the map and comment about that specific location. They’ll compile that information with the answers that they receive in their online survey.

They hope to use that feedback in order to draft a plan that they will bring back to the public for more comments before releasing a final plan sometime this fall.

Tim Werner stressed the importance of public participation because “it’s only as effective as the number of people who provide input.”

“It’s a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty sort of thing,” Werner said, noting the transportation situation in Traverse City. “We actually do have it really good here in Traverse City, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do even more and do even a better job…make more improvements to what we already have.”

In an MLUI survey of more than 1,500 Traverse City area employees last February, about 40% of respondents said they might “walk or bike to work if there was a convenient network of sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails.”

For Werner, the most pressing concern is to fill in the “missing links around public buildings.” He said it’s important to fill in sidewalk gaps, build on the bicycle network, and pay close attention to the way we landscape and the aesthetic quality of our streets.

“Safety, of course, always rises to the top of the list of priorities, but there is also a subconscious human element as far as it needs to have some attractiveness to it,” he said.

Now it’s time for the residents of Traverse City and the surrounding area to voice their opinions and chime in on the online survey to make sure their concerns are addressed in the upcoming plan.

It’s great to see that there’s a committed movement putting together a comprehensive plan in order to improve our transportation system, but they need the input and participation of residents to make it meaningful.

Please visit the Active Transportation Committee’s website to see a map of the existing transportation infrastructure and background information. Then take a moment and fill out the survey so that you can have a voice in Traverse City’s transportation future.   

Zoë McAlear is an intern at the Michigan Land Use Institute working in the Communications department. She can be reached at zoe@mlui.org

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