Additional Thoughts (May 2, 2020) - Social Distancing for Pedestrians and Cyclists

The following was originally published in my May 2, 2020 Newsletter in the "Additional Thoughts" section

There has been some community conversation about the potential need to improve the social distancing environment for pedestrians and cyclists using our sidewalks and roadways. MLive published an article this week about CM Griswold’s outreach to residents and ongoing work with staff to contemplate this issue:

https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2020/04/should-ann-arbor-close-streets-to-cars-and-open-them-to-pedestrians-cyclists.html


I have my own personal observations as a cyclist and pedestrian during this pandemic. To me, it feels relatively easy to step out of the way when I encounter another person on the sidewalk; I regularly see pedestrians walking in residential streets because cars are so few and far between. Lately, there is so little vehicular traffic that I can bike in the roadway without anxiety, too. I’ve not identified any pinch points where people and cars and cyclists are competing dangerously for space, but I’m only one person and I’m certainly not experiencing every location in town. I appreciate CM Griswold’s efforts to collect resident input on this issue and work with staff toward solutions.


At our meeting this week, Council considers two resolutions on the topic of social distancing and our sidewalks/roadways:


DC-5 Resolution to Promote Safe Social Distancing Outdoors in Ann Arbor:

https://a2gov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4429803&GUID=C105DCD9-8E3E-4091-BCC6-AF2C20FE601B


DC-7 Resolution to Move Forward with Lane Closures/Road Closures and Open Streets

https://a2gov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4431830&GUID=A0D6634A-601C-4744-B7C8-353BB4AA6A02


The DC-5 resolution was developed in collaboration with staff over the last few weeks. The DC-7 resolution was added to our agenda late, on Friday (apparently in response to DC-5). For DC-5: all of the WHEREAS clauses (stating goals and purposes) were written by CM Griswold and all of the RESOLVED clauses (directing strategies and timeline) were written by City staff. Because DC-5 was the result of Council/Staff collaboration and DC-7 is a late (spontaneous) idea, I’m told that there was a meeting this weekend to reconcile the issue into a single, comprehensive approach. I expect that by Monday, Council will be ready for a thoughtful conversation that acknowledges the work of staff on DC-5.

Elizabeth NELSON

DEMOCRAT for Ann Arbor City Council Ward 4

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