The Broken Sloping Grid

Preamble: This is a post about the neighborhood of Highland Park by a resident.

In response to the previous post - Fantasy Map (Parks) - someone pointed out that part of the answer has to be connectivity. An alternative to making more of something closer to where someone is, is to make what exists closer. AKA: connectivity. Something may be nearby, yet if there is a barrier between you and it, then it is effectively further away. This is a good point. So, before we can talk about more issues like paths or trails or housing or commerce we need to take a step back and look at the neighborhoods connectivity.

Some Maps

Everyone loves maps, and the RAPID's "Mobility For All" survey is up. You check out the survey, think about it, and provide feedback. This survey supports the required Comprehensive Operational Analysis which will determine the next phase of the RAPID's operation.

Now, the maps....

MobileGR, 2018-03-08

EV Charging Stations

Electric charging stations where installed in 2011.

  • 5 downtown (1 on-street)
  • 1 in Oak Industrial Park
  • 1 at Waste Water site.

All stations have been upgraded; new stations have two cords and have retaining clips to help keep the cords off the ground which was an issue with the previous charging stations.

Paris & You

So, that happened. What to do now? This should always be the question asked in response to terrible public policy decisions. In this case the response is obvious. Consider the fact that the transportation systems alone of the United States produce more greenhouse gasses than any other economy in the world except for China. That is an astonishing data point.

Notes from 2017-05-11 MobileGR Commision Meeting

  • There will be three upcoming events with mobility integration & promotion: rock the block, GR's first Asian Festival, and Festival of the Arts.
    • Of the three - Rock The Block (10K estimated participants), Asian Festival (20K), and Festival (200K) - Rock The Block is the first event not downtown. The guidelines for event sponsorship are Downtown specific if read verbatim, these guidelines need to be revisited after the expanded commission is seated

A Look At Michigan Transportation Data

This is not about urban Grand Rapids, it is about the state of Michigan. But the data is too interesting to pass up. For anyone interested this data (and more than mentioned here) is available for every state at's "State Transportation by the Numbers Profiles" page.

One statistic that really stands out is that of Michigan's 122,051 miles of public roads ... 89.1% are of acceptable quality. This in contrast to a national average of 81.3%. So Michigan roads beat the national average by 7.8%, and are only a percentage point away from having 90% of roads at acceptable quality. Where is the crisis of road quality? I hear about this crisis all the time.

With 122,051 miles of roads and 9,909,877 citizens [2014 estimate] there are roughly 80 citizens per road-mile; a number which includes children and elderly. Another correlation would be 122,051 miles of roads for a workforce of 4,747,800 workers (December 2014) - or 38 workers per road mile. Given the cost of a road-mile this is clearly an unsustainable system. Given only 38 workers to pay for every road mile the fact that our roads are 89.1% acceptable is a miraculous achievement. The simplest solution to funding improved quality of our core corridors would be reducing the overall number of road miles to a sustainable level. Or if not a net reduction in road miles a reduction in the service level of low-use and tertiary roads.

Getting Around & The Michigan St Plan

In January [2015] the Grand Rapids city council performed tentative adoption of the Michigan St Corridor Plan. Final adoption is scheduled for March 11th, 2015 following a 42 day comment period.

First some terms: "mode share" is the portion of all people taking trips using a given type of transportation [including walking]. "multi-modal" trips are trips taken using multiple modes. Everyone takes multi-modal trips. For example if you drive to the airport, fly to Dallas, and then take the DART (Dallas' light rail line) downtown to your hotel - then you've used four modes. You drove, flew, used transit, and you walked (the last few blocks to the hotel). "Mode shift" is when people change from regularly using one or a few types of transportation to using another type of transportation, or a different mix of types of transportation.

As would be expected of any plan having to do with a street there is an emphasis on transportation. And the transportation related aspects of the plan have caused the biggest stir. In response to the plan's transporation oriented objectives MLIVE published a post entitled "How you'll get to Grand Rapid's Medical Mile in the future". This story included a few data points from the plan:

  • ~90%-95% of the trips currently taken on/to "Medical Mile" are performed using single-passenger vehicles.
  • By 2035 the plan targets:
    • A single-passenger vehicle mode share of ~45%, with another ~20% for multiple-occupant vehicles.
    • ~20% of 2035 users using public transit, up from ~1% currently
    • Increase from ~3-5% mode share for pedestrians to ~12%.
    • Increase from -0.2% mode share for bicycles to ~5%.

The response to this story's coverage of the plan's objectives comes as no surprise. Internet commentators are incensed. I have been asked, in person, nearly a dozen times something equivalent to: "what are they thinking?". This question is generally accompanied by gestures indicating complete mystification, if not disgust. It was a serious flaw of the MLIVE story that it failed to convey any sense of rationale beyond the quote "the level of service for autos won't get much better" [Suzanne Schulz, city planner]. It appears there is a wide-spread sentiment that the objectives of the plan are radical, represent some type of progressive agenda, or are simply unachievable. This last notion, that these changes are practically unachievable belies an underlying belief that Grand Rapids is a nearly completely auto-dependent single-mode city, that Grand Rapids is a quintessentially car oriented American city.

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