Jan. 12 2011 12:00 AM

Sidewalk talk

After reading the article in the most recent Pulse on the "sidewalk to nowhere," (1/5/11) I must express my shock that the well-known political analyst, Mr. Bill Ballinger, feels so safe in condemning Virg Bernero’s attempt to build sidewalks and bike lanes through a very dangerous section of Waverly road as a waste of taxpayer dollars because it will primarily benefit only women and low rent blacks. Perhaps he feels a better use for that money would be to help with repairs to the nearby Lansing Country Club where upstanding wealthy white males, who contribute the greatest amounts to our city treasury, could use a little help. Really, Mr. Ballinger, shame on you!

— David Epstein, Lansing

It’s needed

In reply to Senator Rick Jones’ comments that the Waverly Road sidewalk project is a boondoggle, we say get the facts. The project was the result of multiple public input sessions that hundreds attended over a six-month period identifying the need for pedestrian and bicycle accommodations along this road. With public support, these priority routes are now in the Lansing Nonmotorized Plan, and are simply being acted upon. The dollars, by the way, come from state and federal programs dedicated to nonmotorized projects; they are not in place of funding used for motorized travel. Senator Jones’ comment that “the money could be spent on “more important” infrastructure projects,” is misguided and as a veteran politician he should know better. By state law, communities are required to spend at least 1% of their transportation budgets on nonmotorized projects, so if not used here, then the dollars will be used for walking/ biking projects elsewhere.

The Waverly Road project is sorely needed for safe biking and walking. It is not a “path to nowhere,” as Senator Jones proclaims. This should be evident by the well worn “desire path” in the grass. Maybe he hasn’t noticed though, seeing how this project is not even in his district, as it’s on the east side of Waverly, and thus in Senator Whitmer’s district.

Furthermore, there are thousands affiliated with YMCA memberships and programs that generate many trips, not to mention the latent demand for trips made by bike and foot that will result between all the neighborhoods and other area businesses once there is safe access. For Bill Ballenger to say people “can just drive to the Y” is perplexing. There are 20,657 kids who are ages 5-16, 9,494 adults who have more than 2 disabilities, and 11,132 adults who are over age 65 in the Lansing area, for whom automobile use may not be an option.

Mr. Ballenger also states, “that no accidents have ever been reported” in this area.

In fact, there are at least three accidents on file involving pedestrians and autos in that location over the last decade.

The unanimous passage of a Complete Streets ordinance in Lansing, a resolution by the Ingham County Road Commission, and the fact that both E. Lansing and Lansing Twp. are developing similar policies, clearly demonstrates that walkable/bikeable communities is a regional desire shared by the masses.

— Mid-Michigan Active Transportation Coalition