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City Engineer Jon Dowling is a member of the Walkable Communities Task Force, which is an advisory board to City Council. This organization was established through the Fitness Council to promote and create an environment in Jackson where it is easy to walk and bike for both recreation and transportation. This includes educating City citizens and encouraging an active lifestyle.
Walkable Communities has developed a master plan for bike routes in the city. Engineering has installed signs to designate the bike routes and painted bike lanes on many of the streets, including High Street, Elm Avenue, Jackson Street, Mechanic Street, Wildwood Avenue, Ganson Street and North Street. The department continues to increase bike lanes throughout the city as opportunities arise.
Work within Walkable Communities has included grants for installation of more visible school advance warning signs and school crosswalk signs and crosswalk markings on the routes for students walking to Frost Elementary School. Engineering has worked with Safe Routes to School, walking the routes that students take to work toward safety improvements and has walked with students in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Safe Routes to School helped to identify walking routes to schools and made improvements to these routes by the addition of zebra crosswalk markings and signing. A traffic island was installed at Randolph and High to make it safer to cross the street at this wide intersection.
In other pedestrian improvements, crosswalk markings were painted downtown. A mid-block crosswalk was installed on West Michigan Avenue between Mechanic and Jackson with signs to pedestrians to cross only at marked crosswalks and to drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This is an experiment to determine if mid-block crosswalks can be used safely throughout the city. Additional safety improvements have included installation of zebra crosswalks at all signalized intersections.
In other efforts to promote a healthy atmosphere within the city, the department has made improvements to the existing non-motorized inter-city trail between the King Center and Weatherwax Drive. The city is working with the Fitness Council to apply for grants to install way-finding signs along the trail. The inter-city trail will connect with the Falling Waters Trail.
Another non-motorized pedestrian pathway is being planned that will connect the city's central business district to the Armory Arts Project. The plans call for a connection to the central business district by development of the Urban Arts leg of the city’s Riverwalk. The pathway will feature a variety of both temporary and permanent art installations throughout the project.
To provide comments or suggestions regarding the efforts of the city to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities, there is a form available on the Fitness Council Web Site.