ANN ARBOR, MI — Ann Arbor officers are giving critical consideration to reconfiguring streets to permit pedestrians and cyclists to observe safer social distancing.
Metropolis Council voted 11-Zero Monday night time, Could 4, to direct metropolis workers to take a number of actions, together with implementing pilot lane or road reconfigurations on some residential streets as quickly as potential based mostly on resident requests.
“Because of the coronavirus pandemic, at the least 6-foot social distancing is important,” the council resolution states, including sidewalks, paths and the general public right-of-way ought to present alternatives for protected social distancing for all customers.
“Residents report that congestion factors exist at bridges and close to meals shops that problem, and even stop, protected social distancing for pedestrians and cyclists.”
No particular streets have been recognized but, however Council Member Julie Grand, D-Third Ward, mentioned “cut-through streets which can be in neighborhoods are most likely going to be a number of the first that we’ll see on this pilot, as a result of that appears to be the place there’s quite a lot of need that we’ve heard from the group.”
Metropolis officers need to deal with areas the place there are issues it’s troublesome for pedestrians to securely observe social distancing.
Whereas workers has authorization to check out measures on neighborhood streets, council remains to be requiring workers to hunt council approval earlier than implementing any reconfigurations on non-residential streets and to solicit enter from downtown enterprise associations on measures downtown.
Grand mentioned she would like metropolis workers not have to return again to council for approval of any road reconfigurations, however she thinks the decision was compromise.
“I believe a lot of what we’re asking, workers has carried out already, when it comes to finest practices,” she added.
In an April 14 memo outlining options, Raymond Hess, town’s transportation supervisor, mentioned on-street parking areas downtown might be blocked off to permit wider sidewalks or “pedestrian passing zones.”
“Entry to and across the downtown will seemingly turn out to be extra essential as shelter-in-place orders are lifted, however social distancing necessities stay to guard public security and/or to offer public consolation and confidence,” he wrote. “Non permanent adjustments to sidewalk and bike lane widths could also be wanted.”
Council is asking workers to discover alternatives for protected social distancing for pedestrians and cyclists “by means of shared or devoted roadways” and to have a look at finest practices.
“Workers will make the most of skilled security requirements when implementing pilot packages and council acknowledges such pilot packages are by their nature experiments and should end in some complaints,” the decision states.
Council is also asking metropolis workers to develop suggestions and implementation methods for extra complete lane or road reconfigurations and report again as quickly as potential, together with price estimates.
Council Member Kathy Griswold, D-2nd Ward, has been engaged on the difficulty with metropolis workers and others for the final month and introduced ahead the decision, which went by means of a number of revisions earlier than approval Monday night time.
“Actually this dialog began on social media on April Four when somebody talked about an issue with an individual with a incapacity being crowded on the sidewalk,” she mentioned. “And clearly if somebody is in a wheelchair, they’ll’t simply transfer out of the best way or transfer off of the sidewalk.”
Griswold mentioned limiting some streets to native visitors solely would decelerate and reduce car visitors and make it safer for individuals to stroll and cycle on the street.
However it’s going to be sophisticated on downtown streets, she mentioned, and town wants to concentrate to what occurs on parallel streets if it makes one road native visitors solely.
The town additionally must work with the Downtown Improvement Authority and different entities, and take into consideration different components akin to elevated supply providers, Griswold mentioned.
Council Member Ali Ramlawi, D-Fifth Ward, proprietor of the Jerusalem Backyard restaurant downtown, mentioned downtown enterprise has been eviscerated, many companies are struggling and lots of gained’t survive.
“This isn’t only a couple-week scenario,” he mentioned. “That is going to be a generational factor, and I believe we have to embody all our downtown service provider associations on this dialogue.”
Interim Metropolis Administrator Tom Crawford mentioned workers has been assembly with service provider associations, engaged on personalized plans, and people ought to come ahead quickly.
Predicting many new companies can be coming, this is a chance to “foster some new development, as sadly the forest has been burnt down,” Ramlawi mentioned.
“And so I believe it’s essential that the downtown retailers have a essential voice, a essential say in what we do with our streets and sidewalks going ahead.”
The town is primarily seeing social-distancing points within the downtown and in parks, Ramlawi mentioned.
“I believe we will just about isolate these as being the sticking factors, the choke factors,” he mentioned. “I believe we will deal with issues within the neighborhoods comparatively properly.”
Council is asking workers to maintain public security a precedence and comply with a “six E’s framework”: engineering, schooling, encouragement, enforcement, analysis and fairness.
“Nighttime illumination is crucial for protected social distancing within the roadway,” the decision states. “Protected social distancing could be enhanced when the entire width of sidewalks, pathways and bike lanes are freed from obstructions, akin to potholes, journey hazards, overgrown vegetation and development particles.”
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