Celebrating Slower Traffic on the 4th of July

As we celebrate July 4th this year and the signing of the Declaration of Independence,  I’m focusing on small things going right in our land today.  And right now, it is so refreshing to see a neighborhood in the Midtown Detroit area slowing down and purposefully embracing bikes and pedestrians.

You see, I’ve been a longtime  fan of Jane Jacobs, the famous New York urban planning critic – and when I moved back to the metropolitan area I was delighted to see they were scheduling “Jane Walks”in her honor in the midtown area to show how neighborhoods were flourishing again.  In fact, my interest goes back to when I was a senior at Cass Technical high school and wrote my thesis on why Jacobs thought Detroit was ready for a big fall.  It mainly had to do with embracing all the erroneous urban planning doctrines then fashionable – including tearing up neighborhoods for freeways and defying the standards for encouraging healthy interactions and street life —  instead creating huge complexes that destroyed the small shops, trees, roads and walkways that brought people together.

I had noticed that Second Avenue on the Wayne State University campus had suddenly gone from one way to two way traffic a week ago and wondered why the sudden change.  Apparently the goal was a slower pace so the district could become pedestrian-friendly, according to journalist John Gallagher.

Gallagher cites advocates who maintain two-way streets produce benefits in many ways:  “By slowing down traffic speeds, two-way streets foster fewer accidents despite the presence of ongoing traffic.  Slower traffic makes life easier for pedestrians and bikers. That in turn makes neighborhoods more walkable, which draws new investment, reduces crime, and enhances prospects for economic development. “

Hope you’ll take a moment to read his article at http://on.freep.com/UYy1Ti

Have a happy, slower July 4th!

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