The time has come, and downtown Kalamazoo is going to see some changes in traffic flow. Kalamazoo residents may have noticed some new, and different lines being painted on Michigan Avenue that are NOT traffic lanes, and that's by design, because... they're for bikes.

Yep, the bike lanes are finally going in, and some residents aren't exactly happy. But I think there's a way the city can salvage what they've already started.

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From the photos you can see here, the plan to alter traffic in downtown is underway, and so far, it's accomplishing their initial plans. The City of Kalamazoo, and Imagine Kalamazoo wanted to calm traffic in downtown, and allow for a safer, more walkable (and bikeable) area.

To do that, we knew they were planning to eliminate at least one lane of traffic, which they have now done on Michigan Avenue. But what they've done makes perfect sense already, given the goals they laid out in the Imagine Kalamazoo Plan:

1. Calm Traffic
2. Make downtown more walkable
3. Make biking easier in downtown

Bike Lanes, and parking will replace the right lane, and previous parking spots, on Michigan Avenue. Meatball/TSM
Bike Lanes, and parking will replace the right lane, and previous parking spots, on Michigan Avenue. Meatball/TSM
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Traffic Calming

Already, we've seen slower traffic through downtown. It does become more congested, but that's kind of the point. One of the biggest complaints from people who walked through downtown was the speed at which cars were driving.

Now that there is one less lane, traffic packs in a little more, and it slows EVERYONE down, and it happened without having to flip one of the lanes the other direction.

Make downtown more walkable

Already, slowing down traffic makes walking around downtown that much safer. But adding the bike lanes in, takes bike traffic OFF of the sidewalks, and into the road, where they're still safe.

There's also a barrier of bike lanes, AND parking spots between traffic and the sidewalk. More distance between walking pedestrians, and moving cars is always a good idea.

Make biking easier in downtown.

By moving the bike lanes into the street, it creates less obstacles for cyclists to worry about while riding around downtown. AND, it seems like the city learned their lesson from the other bike lane projects, and put a buffer of parking spots, and merge areas between moving traffic and the bike lanes.

This creates a clear, and safe barrier between cyclists and moving traffic.

Bike Lanes, and a safety barrier will take the place of the right lane, and parking spots on Michigan Avenue. Meatball/TSM
Bike Lanes, and a safety barrier will take the place of the right lane, and parking spots on Michigan Avenue. Meatball/TSM
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Why do we need two-way again?

So our three goals for "Imagine Kalamazoo" have been accomplished. WHY, then, does the city still intend on flipping traffic to two-way?

If you do the exact same thing on Kalamazoo Avenue, then you've made the two busiest roads in town safer, slower, and continue to make navigating the roads easy. Not to mention, while traffic may be SLOWER, it continues to flow more freely, instead of stopping down for people who may be turning across traffic.

There's no need for the roundabouts, for the circles, for the repainting and, the disruption to businesses downtown is minimal.

THIS... is the idea that they should have come up with in the first place.

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