TreeTown Goes Green: New Bike Lanes Provide Safe Options

The city of Ann Arbor, often affectionately referred to as TreeTown, is getting even more green and this time it is on the streets.

In June 2021, the city’s engineering department completed the Moving Together Toward Vision Zero Comprehensive Plan, working to create major change long-term. The plan prioritizes five major values: safety, mobility, accessibility, healthy people and sustainability places, as well as regional connectivity. These values help guide conversations around the plan’s two major goals of a carbon-neutral transportation system by 2030 and the elimination of all fatalities and serious injuries due to traffic crashes by 2025.  

The Ann Arbor Transportation Commission is a voluntary body made up of representatives from the city or external departments. This group works to provide feedback as well as advise courses of action to city council on transportation-related plans. 

“The main goal of the commission is to help Ann Arbor make all modes of transportation, especially walking, biking, and transit safer, more comfortable and more sustainable,” Transportation Commission Chair Molly Kleinman said. “That’s explicitly our mission as defined by the city.

Since 2007, the city has installed 94 crosswalks and 78 miles of bike lanes and paths, assisting in a 13% decrease in emissions from transportation since 2000. However, Ann Arbor residents have overall still indicated that they would bike more if they felt comfortable on the streets. Throughout downtown and many other areas in the city, protected and designated bike lanes have been created to encourage more women, older adults, and children to bike. 

“Having this commission, which brings regular residents of the city who bring with them a diverse range of experiences and expertise, to bring this group together to help contribute to shaping especially policy priorities around transportation,” Kleinman said. “One thing that the Commission can do is help affect the priorities of the city and help move the needle towards more safety and more sustainability.”

The city plans to enhance 28 miles of existing bike routes and install 48 miles of new bike routes so that 97% of the population would live within a quarter of a mile of a bike network by 2035.

“Road deaths are rising across the U.S. more people are dying on the roads and I think they’re starting to be a recognition that cities have to think really differently about how they’re designing their transportation systems,” Kleinman said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll start to see some more changes that will bring us closer to that Moving Together Towards Vision Zero goal.”

All of these upgrades and more have led to major changes already installed including the green-protected bike lanes and intersections in and around downtown Ann Arbor. These green lanes are working to achieve both of the major goals set out by the plan, facilitating street safety and environmentally friendly, accessible modes of travel. 

“In order for someone who is not a super confident cyclist to become a bike commuter, they need a safe route, all the way from where they live to where they work,” Kleinman said. “That means that we can’t just stop at the downtown if we want to produce some real major mode shift which we say we do.”

The Vision Zero Implementation Subcommittee works to “address areas in most urgent need of safety interventions” in conjunction with city staff and the consulting team. 

Information on past meetings and upcoming meetings can be found on their website.

Related Articles