As part of Michigan's Complete Streets Act passed in 2010 (Public Act 135 of 2010), a "Complete Streets Advisory Council" was created to advise the state transportation commission on a overall policy. That work has been completed and comments are being accepted by the State Transportation Commission on the draft policy through this Friday, July 13.
Recall that a complete streets policy is meant to promote safe travel for all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and those with disabilities to easily and safely use roads in their communities. More than 70 communities in Michigan have taken some type of action to favoring Complete Streets.
The MML was a strong supporter of the legislation that was passed and signed into law and believes that creating streets and roads in downtowns and neighborhoods that are meant for all users helps to create a vibrant community.
Anyone has the opportunity to comment on the proposed policy through July 13th. At least one organization, The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition, is encouraging people to contact the commission and ask for a stronger policy.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Federal Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail
A common concern in transportation agencies is that implementing Complete Streets policies will cost too much. This in-depth, hour and a half long webinar December 1 at 2:00pm will provide several strategies for responding to this concern, including examples and resources from communities that have overcome this issue. The webinar will provide community leaders with information both about the low cost of many complete streets treatments, as well as ways to talk to transportation professionals about the added value and community support that result from complete streets implementation. Click here to register.
October 28, the League hosted - with generous sponsorship from the MDEQ Office of Environmental Assistance - approximately 60 leaders from state and local government and non-profit organizations in Lansing for the 2nd Michigan Green Communities conference. As with the first Green Communities conference in 2010, the focus was on sharing local solutions for environmental sustainability. We were once again blown away by the enthusiasm of people working on these issues as well as by the quality of the local projects discussed. There were a couple notable changes from the first conference, however.
The first difference was the list of topics covered has grown more diverse. Presenters educated their peers on a range of issues, including:
- Economic Gardening
- Global Economic Competitiveness
- Local Food Networks
- Water Conservation and Management
- Curbside Recycling
- Joint Planning Commissions
- Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
- Complete Streets
Videos and slides from the presenters, as well as notes from the discussion groups, are now available at http://www.mml.org/resources/educenter/2011-green_communities_conference.html.
The other major change from 2010 is that the network of Green Communities in Michigan is larger and stronger. We have a new email newsletter and will continue our series of monthly conference calls. Also in 2012 we are expanding our partnerships with the state-funded Energy Demonstration Centers, which will include regional workshops and training sessions. If you're not already on our email list, contact email@example.com. And please continue to share your thoughts on how to help community leaders across the state connect and learn from one another.
Luke Forrest is a Project Coordinator with the Michigan Municipal League. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.twitter.com/l4est or 734-669-6323.
Fall 2011 will bring a number of training, conference and funding opportunities for community leaders looking to increase environmental sustainability and/or speed implementation of complete streets:
- Global ReLeaf of Michigan is offering two free training sessions titled "Creating and Implementing a Community Forestry Management Plan". The sessions are August 23 in Midland and August 24 in Traverse City. The organization is also soliciting applications for assistance with community tree planting events this fall. For more details and/or to register, email email@example.com or call 800-642-7353.
- The Michigan Department of Community Health is offering five Complete Streets Institute trainings beginning September 7. The Complete Streets Institute is a comprehensive and standardized 5-module training program designed to increase awareness of complete streets principles, support local advocacy efforts, and provide practical, realistic instructions and techniques to help communities create, adopt, and implement Complete Streets policies and projects. The curriculum was designed to cover all aspects of Complete Streets, from introduction of the concept (Module 1) to design applications in your community (Module 5). You pick the modules YOUR community needs to move ahead with success. For more information, click here.
- The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is offering $28 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants for local governments working to update master plans, zoning ordinances and other policies to promote mixed-use development and neighborhood sustainability. Applications are due September 9. Learn more here.
- MDOT is offering bicycle facility design training in eight communities across the state starting September 12. "Training Wheels" is an educational course on the planning and design of on-road bicycle facilities. It will consist of two hours of classroom instruction on the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities followed by an on-road, on-bike portion. For more information click here.
- The national Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference is coming to Detroit May 10-11, 2012. This fall, the conference organizers are seeking proposals for workshops and panel presenters. Proposals are due September 30. Visit http://www.greenjobsconference.org/2012-Conference/Workshop-Proposals for the application guidelines and form. Michigan's Green Communities have made great strides in adopting policies and projects that create green jobs, so we encourage you to submit proposals and spread the word at the conference next year.
Stay tuned to the Center for 21st Century Communities blog for future updates, including an announcement about the 2nd annual Michigan Green Communities conference coming soon. You can also join the Green Communities group on micheen.org.
Luke Forrest is Project Coordinator for the Center for 21st Century Communities. Contact him by email, by calling 734-669-6323 or on Twitter @l4est.