What Ann Arbor’s First Protected Bike Lane Means for Dexter

Conceptual drawing of planned protected bike path along William St. in Ann Arbor. (Photo Ann Arbor DDA)

The City of Ann Arbor continues its efforts to make streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists with the construction of the city’s first protected two-way bike lane. Could the ripple effect spread to Dexter?

Set for groundbreaking in May of this year, the protected bike lane will be located on William Street between Third Street and State Street. It is the first of a planned network of protected bike lanes coming to the Ann Arbor.

The bike path is the result of ongoing efforts by Ann Arbor’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to support projects that promote pedestrian and bicycle safety. This project fits into the recommendations from the 2015 Nelson/Nygaard TDM study to find ways to enhance the downtown in order to encourage more bike commuting.

The DDA engaged residents in the effort to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety through a series of public forums called “People Friendly Streets.”

Conceptual street view of protected bike path planned for William St. in Ann Arbor. (Photo Ann Arbor DDA)

People Friendly Streets allowed us to bring the community with us.

“People Friendly Streets allowed us to bring the community with us,” DDA project manager Amber Miller told WDIV. “Because if they’re not engaged and they can’t see the process, then I think sometimes they can get frustrated with it.”

Public turnout for the forums was overwhelming. It was during these sessions the DDA’s architects amended the plans in real time as the public gave their input.

People were really hungry for it,” Miller said. “They really want to talk about protective bike lanes and pedestrian safety…people who came in concerned left feeling heard and many of them left feeling supported.

Ann Arbor has joined the international initiative of Vision Zero, the global effort to prevent serious injuries and fatalities on the road.

Vision Zero’s core principle is “that life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society rather than the more conventional comparison between costs and benefits, where a monetary value is place on life and health.”

Ann Arbor has joined 21 other US cities as well as other cities around the world in Vision Zero.

As noted in recent articles, Dexter also has an increasing concern over non-motorized movement in the city, particularly in regards to students walking to and from school and school activities. Recent projects in Ann Arbor improving their crosswalks with flashing beacons and now with protected bike lanes show non-motorized safety concerns are not isolated to fast-growing, fast-developing Dexter.

The changing nature of driving itself as well as increased traffic naturally results in changing dynamics for non-motorized transportation. More and more, municipalities are working together with citizenry to understand and address concerns.

The City of Dexter and Dexter Community Schools have recently begun working together on how to proceed with the results of a recent study on pedestrian safety in Dexter. The next meeting between the two parties is Tuesday, Feb. 12.

Residents who care to voice their thoughts on the subject of pedestrian safety are encouraged to do so at the City Council meetings during public participation. The next council meeting is Monday, February 11, 7:00 pm in the Dexter Senior Center.

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