Walkability audit, downtown Oxford MI got audited last week. This audit focused on the ability of pedestrians to navigate the downtown area and what can be done to improve the situation for non-motorized visitors.
A group consisting of Downtown Development Authority (DDA) officials, business owners, interested citizens and paid consultants put on their most comfortable shoes and hit the streets to participate in what’s called a “Walkability Audit.”
Most of those who participated in the audit walked. But some rode in wheelchairs, pushed strollers or drove the type of electric scooters used by senior citizens or others who have difficulty walking. The idea was to view the downtown through their eyes.
The walkability audit was part of the $52,500 expenditure the DDA authorized back in July to develop a streetscape plan that employs the principles of the Complete Streets concept, which basically involves redesigning the downtown area to make it more pedestrian friendly and calm the 1,000s of vehicles traveling along M24 every day.
One of the biggest challenges discussed was the noise generated by M24 traffic, particularly large trucks such as gravel haulers. On street parking is normally something that’s considered critical to a downtown area, not only does it provide a buffer between pedestrians and moving traffic, it provides for convenient parking.
Lack Of M24 Crossings
Another major issue facing the downtown is the lack of safe crossings for pedestrians to get from one side of M24 to the other. The most desirable location for another crossing is at the intersection of Stanton / Washington / Dennison streets.
Another option is to install a signal that’s activated only when pedestrians wish to cross. It would only stop traffic when pedestrians actually signal for a crossing.
Downtown Needs More Trees
The audit also revealed a need for more trees along M24. As part of the streetscape design, selecting a species of tree that could provide pedestrians with shade and protection from the elements, yet also withstand the impact of being in a downtown setting and growing next to a busy roadway.
Making Storefronts More Interesting
Making downtown Oxford more pedestrian friendly isn’t all about creating a new streetscape. Business owners can help by making their storefronts more interesting and attractive.
The results of the walkability audit will be presented to the public during an open house scheduled for November 16th from 4 pm til 7 pm. Location to be determined.
references: sherman publications, c j carnacchio, donsrealty