Lansing is glancing at the potential of Michigan Avenue as a commercial corridor instead of a daily connector.
Imagine the Avenue is a pilot program that will test a more walkable and bike friendly design for Michigan Avenue.
It spans 1.5 blocks, starting at the 2000 block, and includes events like Arts Night Out, Family Fun Fest and the Lansing Art Space Pop-Up Art Market.
The city hopes to get 400 responses from Lansing citizens, in order to catalogue their thoughts on the potential new layout, which will see the road cut down to three lanes in order to make way for an insulated bike lane and street parking, from Aug. 6 to 11.
This concept showed promising results in Detroit’s Cass Corridor that runs through Wayne State University’s campus, said Mayor Andy Schor.
“This is very similar to the Wayne State concept where they have protected bike lanes,” said Schor. “I think in Lansing there is support for this not just for the nonmotorized, but for the road diet concept of let’s skinny it down; let’s help the businesses.”
Schor said there are some that just want to use Michigan Avenue as a way to get in and out of downtown, but there are already roads in place for that.
“Michigan Avenue is our main connector, so we have to encourage people to stop and to shop to really make it a commercial corridor, rather than somewhere easy to get in and out of Lansing,” said Schor. “If they want that, we have Saginaw and Oakland. We’ve got paths into the city. We’ve got I-496.”
According to Schor, testing this layout is a way for neighborhoods on Michigan Avenue to preview the impact of a redesign.
“I think the neighbors would love it, because not only do you increase the walkability of Michigan Avenue, you increase access for nonmotorized vehicles. We have a lot of people on the Eastside that bike,” Schor said.
Lansing public service director Andy Kilpatrick said that if there is significant positive feedback from the pilot, implementation for the redesign can be done before the next major fix on Michigan Avenue within the next five years.
“We are going to have surveys, and the hope is to get a minimum of 400 responses. If there is both positive and negative feedback, there will be some things we might have to work on in the future,” said Kilpatrick.
Redesigning the road can help neighbors and businesses keep up with trends of more people moving into the Eastside, said Schor.
“We actually got the most recent maps two weeks ago from MSU, and the city is seeing a huge population of MSU students living on the Eastside,” said Schor. “A lot of people move there because they want walkability. They want to live on the Eastside and walk three blocks to the bar and three blocks to the restaurant, three blocks to the coffee shop,” said Schor.
Doing pilot event is city’s way of showing it wants to listen to local input before it takes action, said Schor.
“There are always people nervous about change. This is why you show them what this would look like, and see what kind of support we can generate and see what we can hear.”
Imagine the Avenue
Aug. 6-11 For full schedule of events, visit: www.lansingmi.gov/ 1730/Imagine-the- Avenue