ANN ARBOR, MI — An ambitious plan that will guide Ann Arbor’s transportation planning decisions in the coming years is close to being finalized.
City Council this week released a final draft of the “Ann Arbor: Moving Together Towards Vision Zero” plan for another round of input before it’s incorporated in the city master plan.
The new plan is focused on making the city’s transportation network safer, more accessible and sustainable, and easier for pedestrians and cyclists to get around while rethinking how some streets are designed.
It reaffirms the city’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2025 and A2Zero carbon-neutrality goal to have a transportation system that contributes zero emissions to climate change by 2030.
“I’m excited that this is going forward,” Mayor Christopher Taylor said. “The ability of folks to get around town without their cars safely by cycling or by walking is fundamental to the achievement of so many of our municipal goals and this is a plan that will help us get there.”
22 key strategies in the plan:
- Focus transportation investments on corridors and intersections with the most serious crashes.
- Address dangerous behaviors using design solutions, policy changes, and education efforts.
- Establish a quick-build improvement program.
- Address critical gaps in the sidewalk system.
- Enhance safety and visibility at uncontrolled crosswalks.
- Build out a safe, comfortable network of bike routes for people of all ages and abilities.
- Make intersections safer and easier to navigate for biking.
- Update and complete the Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan.
- Partner with mobility service providers to expand transportation options in Ann Arbor.
- Continue increasing transit service to improve frequency and consistency.
- Prioritize transit reliability and speed along signature service corridors and at key locations.
- Improve multimodal access to transit stops.
- Expand commuter-oriented transit services.
- Provide reduced fares for transit and shared mobility services for qualified users.
- Price trips according to their impact on the city.
- Develop a citywide transportation demand management strategy, building off and expanding the getDowntown program.
- Implement new policies to better align parking supply and demand.
- Ensure all residents have access to basic daily needs within a 20-minute walk.
- Create shared streets in strategic areas downtown.
- Proactively engage with underrepresented voices around transportation issues and improvements.
- Expand adaptive signal technology and implement connected infrastructure.
- Monitor advances in connected and automated vehicle technology and evaluate impacts on safety and street design.
Here’s a closer look at some of the charts, maps and information graphics included in the plan:
“The majority (55%) of all crashes where someone was killed or seriously injured in Ann Arbor occurred on streets with speed limits of 35 miles per hour (mph) or higher. No one was killed in a traffic crash on streets with 25 mph speed limits, even though those account for 81% of Ann Arbor’s street network,” the plan states.
“Reducing vehicular speeds throughout Ann Arbor is likely the most effective, singular approach to improving safety on Ann Arbor’s streets.”
The plan recommends setting a 25-mph default speed limit downtown and on local residential streets, adopting a major street traffic-calming program, designating “slow zones” in sensitive areas and setting speed limits on high-priority major streets using a “Safe Speed Study.”
Ann Arbor’s newly approved sidewalk gap tax is expected to help the city accelerate filling gaps in the city’s sidewalk network identified in the plan.
While the city has been working for over a decade to create a more bicycle-friendly environment, nearly doubling the length of designated bikeways since 2007 and installing 78 miles of new bike lanes and shared-use paths, cycling on many streets still can be stressful due to the volume and speed of traffic and lack of separation between cyclists and cars, the plan acknowledges.
The plan calls for creating an “all ages and abilities” cycling network consisting of 102 miles of bike routes across Ann Arbor.
Of those, 26 miles are already in place, 28 miles of existing bike routes need to be enhanced (such as adding a barrier between the bikeway and cars or adding traffic calming) and 48 miles of new bike routes are needed, the plan states.
It calls for installing four miles of new or upgraded “all ages and abilities” bicycle routes each year and having the 102-mile network complete by 2030.
“Once completed, 97% of the population would live within a 1⁄4 mile of the all ages and abilities bike network,” it states.
”To achieve Vision Zero by 2025, Ann Arbor must re-design streets and intersections to reduce crashes and ensure that when people make mistakes and crashes happen, those crashes do not result in death and injury,” the plan states. “This will entail providing greater protection to people walking and biking and implementing new tools to address specific dangerous driving behaviors.”
“We must act at many different scales, focusing on a single intersection or corridor at times while also considering citywide and regional actions,” the plan states. “We must upgrade our infrastructure, test new street designs, and craft new policies and programs.”
“Dangerous driving behaviors accounted for a large share of crashes that resulted in death and serious injury in Ann Arbor between 2014 and 2018,” the plan states, calling for addressing that through design solutions, policy changes and education efforts.
The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority could deepen its discounts or provide free bus fares for low-income riders, the plan states.
“A 20-minute neighborhood is a place where residents can meet most of their daily, non-work needs (like shopping, groceries, parks, and schools) within a safe, convenient 20-minute walk,” the plan states. “Today, eight out of ten Ann Arbor residents live within a 20-minute walk of a school, grocery store, general retail, and a park. However, people of color are 37% more likely to live in a neighborhood with limited access compared to white Ann Arbor residents.”
The plan calls for ensuring everyone can live in a “20-minute neighborhood” by updating the zoning code to encourage mixed uses in residential neighborhoods and more housing in locations with good access to basic daily needs.
“Between travel lanes, on-street parking, surface parking lots, and parking garages, more than one third of all the land in downtown is allocated for cars, which can impede walkability, negatively impact the public realm, and limit opportunities for efforts to enhance the sense of place,” the plan states.
Creating “shared streets” in parts of downtown will improve safety and walkability, open up space for people to gather and interact, and encourage commercial activity, the plan states.
There’s a lot more in the plan, including diagrams and concept plans for specific improvements to corridors like Plymouth Road, Main Street, Miller Avenue, Washtenaw Avenue, State Street and Nixon Road, and intersections like Washtenaw and Hill, the Washtenaw and Stadium split, Liberty and Division, Ann and Glen and Packard and Platt.
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