Walkability took another big step forward in Ann Arbor this week, with the formal dedication of the city’s first HAWK (Highintensity Activated crosswalk) signal. It’s the first of its kind to be installed on a state trunkline in Michigan.
Officials from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the city of Ann Arbor held a street corner gathering to celebrate the innovative new pedestrian signal at the corner of I-94 Business Loop (Huron Drive) and Third/Chapin Street on the west side of downtown Ann Arbor. Celebrants in reflective orange vests emblazoned with the words “Hawk Walk 2010” inaugurated the signal with mass crossings in both directions.
A HAWK signal provides a protected pedestrian crossing as a way to increase safety. A person wishing to cross the street pushes a button to activate the signal, which then goes through a series of yellow and red sequences, requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians. When the HAWK signal goes dark, motorists can continue through the intersection until it is activated again. It also has a blinking red light that allows motorists to drive through a lane if the pedestrian has already crossed it on their way to the other side.
Before the ceremony, senior citizens who reside in a housing facility just north of the intersection were already lined up and waiting for their first opportunity to cross the busy thoroughfare near the YMCA at 400 W. Washington Street.
Improving pedestrian safety through good physical design is a key element in promoting walkability.
Creative entrepreneurship was a guiding theme at the Arts Alliance 2010 Convergence on Oct. 26 in Ypsilanti. The Alliance – comprised of artists and art supporters in Ypsilanti, Milan, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester and Ann Arbor – is working to make arts and culture seen as a basic value in a community, vital to prosperity and quality of life. With input from SEMCOG, the Alliance is promoting the concept of a "cultural master plan" for communities, based on guidelines remarkably similar to the eight assets of the League’s 21c3 initiative.
Ann Arbor.com wrote about the conference and the concept of art as a catalyst for change.
At the core of the Alliance mission is the concept of art as a driving force in economic development, and the need to foster creative entrepreneurship. Keynote speaker Derrick Ashong spoke on the transformative power of arts and culture in educating today’s youth. His global vision for America’s future is about cultivating a culture of innovation.
The Arts Alliance is a great example of how grassroots organizations can play a powerful role in helping municipalities to promote leadership and create opportunities that stimulate economic development and build strong, vibrant communities.
Elizabeth Shaw is Communications Coordinator for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-669-6318.