Kalamazoo Co. Commission votes to support policy to make streets, roadways safer

Kalamazoo Co. commission votes to support policy to make streets, roadways safer

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Kalamazoo County Commission voted to support a policy to help make county streets and roadways safer.

A big component of the policy addresses bicycle safety.

On Tuesday night, commissioners approved a Complete Streets policy, which calls for planning county streets and roadways so they're accessible, not just to cars, but to bicyclists and pedestrians.

The policy involves planing, designing, and implementing roadways that incorporate better use for people who don't drive vehicles. This could include installing wider sidewalks, shoulders, and improved bike lanes on existing and new roadways.

"One of the people at the meeting last night is from Europe, and said he used to bike to school--and here it's just not possible," said Kalamazoo County Commissioner Julia Rogers.

Supporters say the policy will make the county more inclusive and raise the quality of life by making the area more bike friendly.

Paul Selden is the head of Bike Friendly Kalamazoo. He was one of a group of citizens that helped craft the resolution.

"(It) was really a watershed moment. I think it was the beginning a number of tipping points that have happened around the community," Selden said.

Recent roadway tragedies, including five bicyclists that were killed by a hit-and-run driver last month, spurred some commissioners to vote yes.

"This year the timing was right." Rogers said.

But Commissioner John Gisler cast the lone "no" vote against the resolution.

Right now, there are similar non-motorized policies in several townships and villages in the county.

"It always sets the table for somewhere down the line when the county decides they're going to decide telling you, townships, cities, villages, how you should spend your money," he said.

Commissioners are also trying to convince the Kalamazoo City Commission to approve a similar policy--something the commission had previously discussed, but never voted on.

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