This summer, Loomis Street was redone for several blocks in the downtown, extending from Rath Avenue to the west to Delia Street in the east.  Here is a view looking west from Rowe Street, you will notice the new pavement and street-side parking markings going the next two blocks, this is a one-way street only heading east:

Something looked a little 'off' when I walked across it recently, before I tell you about that, allow me to share with you a look at the Complete Streets resolution that the 2011 city council passed.  This resolution allowed the City to qualify for grants and showed a commitment to incorporate complete streets into their master plan, which effectively looks for making streets safe and usable by non-motorized traffic, like bicycles and pedestrians.  This resolution has not been changed since and is part of the City's master plan.

This resolution states that every new construction will be designed to facilitate non-motorized traffic, or at least not make it worse.  Here's a look at Loomis Street from roughly the same angle from recent years past.  Besides the condition of the street and lack of a street-parking line, can you determine what I noticed was off and would go against complete street principles?

The five streets parallel to Ludington and immediately south of it are all one-way streets.  This type of street is typically narrower than two way streets.  When one measures the current width of the five streets in the two blocks between Rowe and Delia , they show a wide variety:

Loomis:   23 ft.

Filer:      27 ft.

Foster:   36 ft.

Danaher: 29 ft.

Melendy: 25 ft.

One would think Loomis' proximity to Ludington Avenue would merit a wider street, since it is often used by motorists going around Ludington Avenue when it is closed off for events during the summer and by bicycles who are properly afraid of riding on Ludington Avenue.  It's the narrowest, of the streets, however, and yet it wasn't that way just a year ago.  When viewed under the same scale via Google images, Loomis used to be wider than Danaher Street in that zone, which means that Loomis used to be over 6 foot wider than it is now!

This reduction of the street can be seen in the pictures by noticing the distance between the sidewalk and street has increased greatly, especially on the north side of the street.  This demonstrably has made these two blocks of Loomis much more dangerous for bicyclists (and pedestrians using the street in wintertime).  

Let's presume vehicles are parked in the 9 ft. wide lane made for them.  A bicyclist riding to the left of this line needs to give the parallel parked cars a respectful distance or risk getting 'doored' by someone exiting the vehicle, two feet for this would be minimally sufficient.  The bicyclist himself is about two feet wide.  A car is required by Michigan law to give a bicyclist a minimum of three feet in passing them.  Adding:  9 + 2 + 2 + 3 = 16 feet.  

This leaves only 7 ft. (23 - 16) for the vehicle, assuming they hug the curb, yet many pickups are as wide as 8 feet.  Before this years construction, there was plenty of room with 13 feet available for a motorist to pass a bicyclist in that same area.  Today, bicyclists cannot be passed safely and legally if they ride to the left of the street-side parking line in these two blocks.  Why wasn't the public told that the City was planning to go against their complete streets resolution and their master plan in redoing Loomis Street?  

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Assuming your measurements are correct, XLFD, and your genius analytical skill are as usual, this reconstruction of Loomis Street is nothing short of maddening. I hope you send this article to the city manager and get an understandable explanation on why Loomis Street was narrowed by approximately six feet(?), when you're right--it seems the first street south and parallel to Ludington should be as wide as possible. Then I hope it gets forwarded to every state agency that Complete Streets is meant to impress. Who engineered this?

There is an simple addition error in your 9+ 2 + 2 + 3 = 17 equation, but the bigger premise appears correct that the total complete street area has been reduced by apparently adding more grassy area and curb outside the sidewalk egress? This does seem to have reduced complete traffic safety on a street that probably will carry more traffic as Ludington Avenue gets busier. Why does the City of Ludington keep making backward mistakes (west end disasterus flooding and waste of $2 million dollars, $185,000 marina sidewalk reconstruction mess, splashpad without discharge permit) all just this year?

Oops, I will correct the addition error and amend the 'free space' to 7 feet, which is still insufficient for most vehicles to pass safely, but tempting enough to allow them to try that.  

The bigger question of course, is why would city leaders agree to reduce significantly the width of this important street for travel when they claim to be committed to making it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.  I have used Loomis Street as an alternative to riding on Ludington Avenue, but would be reluctant to travel this stretch because of the reduced dimension.

Thanks for the information X. When I first saw the change in the street I had no idea what they were thinking when they reconstructed it. What a monumental waste of money. Multiply this by the other thousands of brain dead projects all over the Country paid for by the tax payers then one can imagine why we are so far in debt. This type of useless spending by numbskulls cannot last forever. Something has to give. 


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