Eyesore of the week

By Andy Balaskovitz

Property: Westbound Michigan Avenue sidewalk, East Lansing

Owner: City of East Lansing

Owner says: Non-motorized plan grades quality with “E,” but bike lanes are in the future

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Social activities at the sidewalk level are vital to a community and can be directly proportional to the health of the physical infrastructure. Cafes, markets, food carts, musicians or simply pedestrian traffic thrives when the physical environment is supportive. However, as the infrastructure erodes, so too can these activities — jeopardizing the social life of sidewalks.

Leisure bicyclists beware: double-pad the seat and pack the hemorrhoid cream when traveling the north sidewalk between Harrison Road and Grand River Avenue on Michigan Avenue. The ride’s about to get rough.

This high-traffic thoroughfare connecting Lansing and East Lansing should probably be a model for safe passage, whether you’re on a bike or in a car. Unfortunately, the cars win out here. Since there are no bike lanes or even a wide shoulder on either side of Michigan Avenue between Harrison and Grand River, those out for a leisurely bike ride have little choice but to use the sidewalk. A vast majority of this half-mile stretch of sidewalk — which fronts several houses, apartment complexes, businesses and a restaurant — is covered in sharply uneven pavement, gaps in concrete and the occasional sunken manhole cover.

But there is hope. According to East Lansing’s Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, the goal is to reduce the westbound and eastbound lanes from three to two, making room for bike lanes. It couldn’t come soon enough, as that same plan gives this stretch of sidewalk the lowest grade possible — “E” — for quality of in-road bicycling.