Form Based Zoning and Its Impacts on Pedestrians in the Community

Making East Lansing a more pedestrian friendly, transit supportive, walkable place for residents has been a goal for the community for quite some time. Starting at the Capitol in Lansing and going all the way into Meriden township people want to see change. The area is not very pedestrian friendly and it’s hard to find bus stops conveniently located. A mission of the East Lansing city council is to change this problem. Three main ideas to make this happen are to, create a better functioning design of the streets near residential buildings, turning high rise buildings into smaller townhomes or apartments that have steps leading up to the front door to create more sidewalks to make EL a more walkable place and easier for CATA bus stops to be better placed, and lastly, to change the placement of parking lots and buildings to find a way to better arrange them that makes sense for their consumers. When it comes to creating a more inviting, friendly look to the city of East Lansing and Meriden Township it makes sense to start with the buildings. A lot of the buildings in the East Lansing area are tall, high rise apartments built to house the thousands of students that go to Michigan State but is it the most practical design in terms of walkable areas and a more inviting community? Not quite. Builders have the idea to take down these large buildings and rebuild smaller townhomes and apartments that you have access to your own front door and there is no need for a leasing office or large hallways to take up excess space. This also would allow for more sidewalks and a more walkable friendly area in terms of construction and the areas overall look. The council says East Lansing current zoning plan does not match the original one and that’s a main reason why the plan to make the streets connected to residential neighborhoods meet commercial areas by creating new housing and sidewalks. In the case study I’ve chosen, a few solutions were brought up regarding my topic. They use the idea of “complete streets” to help make the Lansing area roadways accommodating to all of its users being, drivers, transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists, as well as older people, children, and people with disabilities. A “complete street” analysis was done in the city of East Lansing specifically Michigan Avenue and a plan was drawn up to help fix certain issues. The characteristics of this plan are to create walkways that are areas designated just for walking, this area will always be paved and have a longer width than before. A frontage zone would be created this way people are not walking immediately adjacent to a building and instead there would be some space to allow some distance. This space could be used for new architectural elements, vegetation and other features that can help make the street seem more pedestrian friendly. Another important characteristic would be access and access management. Access management refers to the regulation of access point location and spacing, to minimize conflicts and create safe streets for all modes of transportation. This can be done by minimizing driveways, providing access to side streets, and making sure signs are in use at high volume access points. With these 3 main characteristics there is a proper way Michigan Ave could become a safer, more pedestrian friendly road. Another factor to consider in terms of making Michigan Ave more transportation friendly are intersections. Intersections need to be made to meet the needs of drivers as well as pedestrians. Some key details that need to be reinforced in East Lansing’s intersections are, better clarity meaning, motorized traffic should be alerted when pedestrians are present and cross walks should be easily identified by both parties. There should be predictability when it comes to cross walks and visible signs and, there should be a flashing light when one is placed in an unpredictable spot. All signs should be visible and have appropriate lighting especially at night. Pedestrians also need limited exposure for their safety, this means reducing cross walk distance, providing “islands” or medians, and reducing conflict points. And lastly, there should be a short wait time for pedestrians waiting to cross the street, if we minimize the time spent waiting it could improve foot traffic on sidewalks and make Michigan Avenue feel like a more walkable, friendly place.The new townhomes that were built on Albert street behind Grand River are a prime example of these. They create a better look for the Lansing community and make the streets look more inviting and pedestrian friendly.

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