Westland leaders have a plan to make the city a safer place to walk and ride a bike.
From 2016 to 2020, the city reported 80 crashes involving pedestrians and 80 involving bicyclists. That’s according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), which tracks crash data for the region.
Westland Mayor William Wild says one facet of the “Walk & Roll” project is to connect gaps between sidewalks.
“Imagine you’re walking on the sidewalk and all of a sudden, it just stops,” Wild says. “We have to think about people in wheelchairs and other mobility issues that depend on sidewalks to to get from one place to another.”
Wild says the overall goal is to connect Westland neighborhoods with parks, trails, schools and businesses, as well as neighboring communities.
The plan also encourages residents to ride their bicycles more often. That will start by installing the city’s first bike lanes along Wildwood Street. The mayor admits Westland is a little behind the times installing dedicated bike lanes on city streets.
“What makes it difficult for a bedroom community like Westland is that there’s a lot of on-street parking, so we’re having to work our way around that,” he says. “People aren’t excited about giving up a lot of parking.”
How will it make Westland safer?
The Wildwood Bikeway project will include signage and pavement markings known as “sharrows” — painted arrows showing where bicycles and automobiles will share space.
“We’ll use the sharrows to dodge around some areas where on-street parking is still really needed,” Wild says.
The mayor says city leaders have studied the frequency and location of pedestrian and bicycle crashes over the years. He says they have more ideas how to make those areas safer, too.
“Some of it will be by adding lighting as well as crosswalk signs,” he says.
SEMCOG gave the city a $40,000 to implement “Walk & Roll” starting in May.