Wednesday, April 04, 2007

what to do with huron river drive?

It appears that the miserable condition of Huron River Drive has reached some invisible but verifiable level of crapitude. For years the only thing cyclists and motorists using this stretch of road could agree on was the miserable state of the too-narrow road surface. The city has now deemed the bumpy patch-jobs, potholes, and cracks on HRD worthy of repair. However, knowing they will have to deal with the huggable bunch of community-minded citizens that is Ann Arbor, they are setting up a bitchfest public workshop first.

The workshop will be held Wednesday, April 4, though the News article fails to mention time or location.

The options are:
-repave as is
-widen the road for bike lanes or at least a paved shoulder
-close the section from Main to Bird Rd. to automotive traffic

While the carfree option obviously has some allure with us, we are not quick to jump on the bandwagon here. No doubt that HRD makes for a scenic bike ride. But it is not a major connection for getting around town. Also, access to this section of road is not great from downtown. North Main would need some work to provide a bike and pedestrian friendly connection. Closing off this section of road without other major improvements would result in a giant sidewalk (bike lane, multiuse path, whatever) to nowhere.

If we build it and they don't come, due to poor planning and integration with existing facilities, we'll be dealing with the collective memory of how much money was wasted providing a highway for cyclists that don't exist. This could turn the general population away from future bike/ped projects.

Closing the Drive to cars (not "vehicles", AANews. Bikes ARE vehicles) should be part of a larger plan for improved access to the river and connecting a carfree-friendly downtown with the river and Dexter. If not, the money may be better spent on realizing the "carfree-friendly" downtown.

5 comments:

HomelessDave said...

"The workshop will be held Wednesday, April 4, though the News article fails to mention time or location."

MLive's version of the Ann Arbor News typically omits internal fact boxes completely or includes them as separate entities, that is to say stand-alone articles. I don't don't which is the case here.

However, in the print edition of the News, the article ran on the front page above the fold with an internal fact box that included the following.

When: Wednesday 6:30 to 9:00pm
Where: Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Road, Ann Arbor

p said...

HRD is the one major road into and out of town where motorists expect and deal well with cyclists. I can count on one hand the number of times when I wanted to throw a rock through someone's windshield while riding there.

Given how few people use it for recreational riding during the week, it makes no sense to shut it down permanently. Those cyclists I do see out there on weekdays are usually of the type that can practically keep up with the 35mph traffic.

I am, however, strongly in favor of shutting it down to traffic for half a day each week, like Boston does with memorial drive in the summer.

Edward Vielmetti said...

I suggested on Arbor Update that that stretch go one way, so that the narrowness of the road wasn't such a big deal.

Richard Wickboldt said...

Closing Huron River Drive will not lead to a car free AA. The closing will be putting hundreds of children in danger by diverting thousands of cars daily into the school zone and crossings of three schools! Also many of those same children when home and playing will be exposed to increased unsafe conditions as many of these same cars divert through the local neighborhoods.

We should also be aware that the closing will cause these same cars to travel a longer distance and consequently burn more gas, which will produce additional air pollution and greenhouse gases. This again putting the young children in a more dangerous environment.

The closing will have a detrimental impact on emergency response, specially the fire dept, to the AA citizens and their children who live in the North West area.

I ask our AA political leaders to lift themselves above the rhetoric of closing HRD and clearly see the impact a HRD closing would have on the health and safety of our children.

Richard Wickboldt

Vince said...

MLive's version of the Ann Arbor News typically omits internal fact boxes completely or includes them as separate entities, that is to say stand-alone articles.

___________________

Vince

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