Imagine spending a day in town; shopping, going to the movies, topped with a delicious dinner at a fancy restaurant, without having to spend a dollar on gas.
Sounds crazy, right?
But that is exactly what Lansing Township hopes to accomplish with their development plan of creating pedestrian and bicycle paths throughout the northeastern quadrant of the township. The plan would use a mixture of shared-use pathways for bikes and walkers, sidewalks, bike lanes and bike routes to give residents a broader choice when it comes to transportation.
Steven Hayward, director of development for the township, said that the goal of the plan was to offer alternative transportation methods without slowing down traffic. “There should never be a hindrance,” said Hayward, “otherwise that is where conflict begins.”
The township developed a concept plan in 2005 that proposed the idea of developing pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths throughout the township, Dewitt Township, Lansing and East Lansing, spanning both Ingham and Clinton Counties.
The plan would create four corridors, each reaching out from the Eastwood Towne Center: North corridor would run to two major mobile home communities and Granger Meadows Park in Dewitt, South would reach toward Pattengill Middle School, Lansing Catholic Central High School and Eastern High School through Groesbeck neighborhood and Wood Road; Southwest would stretch in towards the northern side of Lansing using Lansing River Trail and through Lansing Old Town; and East would link to East Lansing and Dewitt Township.
The plan outlined many benefits for creating new walkways and bicycle paths, including safer travel for non-motorized transportation, reducing motor vehicle congestion, and improving property values.
Adding sidewalks to the roads is considerably inexpensive, costing about $10 per foot of sidewalks. Because bike lanes only require restriping the roads and adding signs they cost only $.05 per foot according to Steven Hayward, director of Planning and Development for the township.
Maintaining both sidewalks and bike lanes is easier than roads because they cause less stress on the roads then automobiles and funding for the bike system comes from the Tax Increment Financing Authority, which redistributes 25% of the increases in taxes and reinvests them in development.
Hayward said that since the township formed the plan, they have created bike lanes and sidewalks along Wood Street, Lake Lansing Road, and Kerry Street.
Creating pedestrian friendly paths is not only a priority for the township, but for other municipalities as well. Hayward said that the City of Lansing is planning to place bicycle paths on Lake Lansing Road from the Quality Dairy to the city limit this spring. In 2009, East Lansing plans to extend the bicycle lanes of Coleman Road to Wood Street.
John Daher, supervisor of Lansing Township, thinks that developing bike paths and pedestrian walkways can help the Greater Lansing area economically and environmentally. Daher thinks that it can help local businesses when residents decide to walk instead of drive. “Cars drive right through,” said Daher. “Walkers and bikers stop and shop.”
Hayward believes that these pathways could enhance business. “Not everyone wishes or can afford to drive a car. Also, the idea that one within Eastwood that you can easily walk to your next location makes it more convenient for people to stick around and support the businesses.”
Erica Capetillo works at the management office at Eastwood Towne Center and sees many shoppers who walk to the shopping center.
“It would be pretty convenient for both workers and shoppers,” said Capetillo. “I hear plenty of costumers who said they walked here.”