Pedestrian safety efforts earn Ypsilanti Michigan’s second walk friendly community label

YPSILANTI, MI – Ypsilanti’s commitment to create safe and pedestrian-friendly environments has led to it becoming the second Michigan city to receive a “Walk Friendly Community” certification from a national organization.

The program, operated by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, requires cities that apply to report levels of pedestrian fatalities and injuries, how frequently residents walk to work and a range of information on planning and policies for sidewalks, bike lanes and other non-motorized infrastructure.

The group recognized Ypsilanti this year at the silver certification level, the city officials said, marking the first time it has been ranked, after previously only earning honorable mention from the Walk Friendly Communities program.

Ypsilanti joins Ann Arbor, which has gold-level recognition, on the list of communities across the nation certified since 2011, according to the program website. Lansing is also listed as an honorable mention.

The program recognized Ypsilanti for being a city where 95% of residents live within a five-minute walk from a public transit stop and a 10-minute walk from a park, as well as officials’ efforts to develop and update a Non-Motorized Transportation Master Plan.

The plan, refreshed last year, includes “aggressive targets,” like increasing the proportion of residents who walk or bike for transportation to 40% by 2025, the Walk Friendly Communities organization noted.

The document also calls for eliminating all pedestrian and cyclist traffic fatalities and serious injuries by the same year.

Read more Ypsilanti news here,

Ypsilanti has partnered with the Michigan Department of Transportation and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission on several recent projects aimed at making the city more walkable, Ypsilanti officials said.

Among them are Border-to-Border Trail projects in Frog Island Park and an the creation of a non-motorized crossing over I-94 for the B2B Trail on Grove Road.

Another long-held goal of city officials meant to boost pedestrian safety — a pathway over I-94 into Ypsilanti Township on the Huron/Hamilton Street bridge — is currently under construction as part of a large MDOT project focusing on reconstructing parts of M-17 that run through the city.

That two-year project will also bring lane reduction and bike lanes to several one-way sections of Washtenaw Avenue, Hamilton Street and Huron Street.

Read more: Bike lanes, lane reductions planned for these major Ypsilanti roads

Pedestrian crossing upgrades are also built into the plan and will come as part of a planned $4-million reconstruction of North Huron River Drive between Cornell and Leforge Roads, slated to add new sidewalk and improve existing walkways.

City residents working to make Ypsilanti a safer place for pedestrians said they were gratified to be recognized for their efforts, though there is still room to improve.

“The award is like a big hug from a mentor for a job well done,” Bob Krzewinski, chair of the city’s Non-Motorized Advisory Committee, said in a statement.

“At the same time, it is also like having that mentor telling you your future looks great if you keep working hard and pursue your dreams,” he said. “We’ll keep working to achieve that gold.”

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