A City Council Special Meeting has been scheduled on October 8, 2013, at 6:30 PM to review sidewalk improvement options. The City Council, during their August 3, 2013 Special Meeting, stated that sidewalk repair and safety is a top priority of the City (see City Projects for more information.) During their September 17, 2013 meeting, the City Council approved a resolution of support for working with the Friends of Harbor Country Trails to apply for a Safe Routes 2 School grant to help fund sidewalk improvements.
Pursing improved walkability, the City of New Buffalo hosted a walkability review on Friday, September 13, 2013, from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM, at City Hall, 224 W. Buffalo St. The walkability review was guided by experts through a Michigan Department of Transportation program.
On the walkability review:
What is a walkability review? The program material states:
Each walkability review course will cover the basic principles of walkability and how to review the walking environment from a non-technical perspective. Workshop attendees will learn what to look for in terms of identifying and assessing factors that contribute to walkability including transportation infrastructure such as sidewalks, crosswalks, school zones, and intersections, as well as land uses such as downtown areas, parks, schools, and residential areas.
A walkability review is not a formal walking audit or road safety audit. Walkability reviews provide a general overview of a walking environment and identify issues or concerns with respect to pedestrian accessibility, comfort, and safety.
Comfort relates to the adequacy of the sidewalk and adjacent buildings to the extent that making a trip as a pedestrian is a feasible and pleasant experience, and that there are reasons for taking the trip such as walking to transit, making a trip to work or school, or for recreation.
Accessibility is the extent to which the walking environment accommodates users of all ages and abilities. This includes pedestrians using wheelchairs, pushing strollers, carts, children, and pedestrians with vision, hearing, or other mobility impairments.
Safety relates to actual hazards or factors that contribute to crashes or crime affecting pedestrian safety. This includes vehicle speeding, adequacy of traffic control devices, roadway width, pedestrian crossings, and lighting.
The walkability review material continues stating that the walkability experts "will review the basics of walkability and go over a simple walkability checklist to help stakeholders organize and summarize their observations in an easy to use checklist form."
Hearing the presentation during the walkability review:
Improving walkability has been a goal of the City since the Harbor Country Hike and Bike Plan was created in 2010. For example, Jefferson Street was repaved in 2010 with wide shoulders to better serve walkers and bicyclists. The 2014 South Whittaker Street repaving project will also include wide shoulders as bicycle lanes, but also sidewalks will be repaired and new sidewalk will be added on the east side of Whittaker from just north of Detroit Street to Washington Street. Crosswalk improvements will be made at the Whittaker-Clay intersection.
The Marquette Greenway non-motorized trail has been mostly built between Chicago and Michigan City, and a route is being identified between Michigan City and New Buffalo for future implementation. Closer to now a greenway trail is being worked on to create a non-motorized path to link New Buffalo Elementary School to New Buffalo Middle/ High School. And more walkability improvements are in the works.