March 29 "WALKWAYS AND WIDEWAYS" forum aims to
take walkers and bicyclists off the endangered list
West Bloomfield, MICH…. A coalition which came together to press for a
three-lane alternative to a proposed five-lane road widening in western
Oakland County has added another dimension to its quest for preserving
community and environmental quality.
"The more we looked at the road situation, the more we realized that there
were many pedestrian needs unmet," says Julie LeBlanc, chair of the 4 Towns
Citizens Action Team (4 Towns CAT). (The organization formed last year to
find a better solution to traffic congestion along Haggerty/Union
Lake/Williams Lake Roads than the five-lane road recommended in a corridor
engineering study.) "Several of our board members attended a workshop on
walkable communities given by Norman Cox, president of the Greenway
Collaborative. It opened our eyes to what our communities could be if we
looked at solutions to transportation beyond more concrete – if we considered
the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and the handicapped of all ages – not
The Saturday, March 29th WALKWAYS AND WIDEWAYS forum will be held 8 a.m. to 1
p.m. at Oakland Community College Highland Lakes, 7350 Cooley Lake Road at
Hospital Road, Waterford. The fee is $12 before and $15 after March 21.
Seniors pay $6. Students attend free. Continental breakfast is included.
Call forum sponsor Oakland Land Conservancy, 248-601-2816 or email
email@example.com. A printable registration form is at www.wlcare.com.
Cox will return to the county as keynote speaker for the March 29th forum,
presenting examples of communities which have incorporated non-motorized
planning to preserve their "sense of place" and ideas to help residents here
plan. Larry Falardeau will give an update on progress towards a county-wide
linked trail and path network. As principal planner with Oakland County
Planning and Economic Development, Mr. Falardeau has developed a greenways
vision which is now becoming a reality.
"It doesn’t matter where you are, none of these communities are walkable,"
says Fay Hansen, chair of White Lake Residents C.A.R.E., a forum sponsor.
"We take it for granted that we can walk and bike on gravel roads now because
cars go slowly, but we need to plan now for a time when this won’t be so."
"Based on 1990 data, 27% of all travel trips are one mile or less, 40% two
miles or less and almost 50% are three miles or less," says Heather Northway,
associate director of East Michigan Environmental Action Council, another
forum sponsor. "Sidewalks and bike lanes give people an option besides their
car for short trips – an option which benefits both human health and the
"Because obesity is a growing health threat to children which walking can
help address, we sponsored a ‘safe walks to school’ week in one Oakland
County district last fall," says Lorna McEwen, co-chair of Healthy People
Healthy Oakland, a community health initiative which supports the forum.
"There was just one problem. There was no safe way to walk to school because
there were no sidewalks."
"When you’re in your car you want every light green and the speed limit high.
When you’re walking you want a cross walk at every block," says Cox.
"People want walkable, bikable communities. They want to save open space,
but they haven’t quite come to grips with how to balance their transportation
priorities and their funding priorities. Greenway planning is all about
striking that balance and looking at a community with fresh eyes. You can
retrofit a community – or you can start out fresh in an undeveloped
community. Either way it can work if the community wants it to."
In addition to previously mentioned sponsors, forum support comes from
Concerned Citizens for West Bloomfield, David Moss, Don Melcher, OCC –
Highland Lakes, and Rep. Marc Shulman.