The Walk Woodbridge initiative encourages residents to get to know their neighbors by walking with them and assessing how friendly their streets are to bikes and pedestrians.
The Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation organizes the outings. WDET’s Laura Herberg met up with Executive Director Angie Gaabo for a strolling interview.
Click on the audio above to hear their full conversation.
Here’s a transcript:
Laura Herberg: Tell me where we are and why this is an area of concern?
Angie Gaabo: We are at the corner of Trumbull [Avenue] and Merrick [Street]. Right here on the southwest corner is the Woodbridge Pub, which is a restaurant/bar. You can hear there’s a lot of traffic going by, and there’s no crosswalk here. This is a great location for thinking about, “How do pedestrians actually connect?”
There tends to be kind of a dividing line in our neighborhood. On the west side of Trumbull is a lot of older, big Victorian mansions and other historic homes that have been homeowner-occupied and also some renters. East of Trumbull is the old Jeffries Housing Project which is now Woodbridge Estates, which is a mixed-income housing development.
So, part of what we’ve tried to do with Walk Woodbridge is intentionally involve people from both sides of this — we call kind of an infrastructural boundary — to walk together, meet each other and address that kind of boundary as well.
LH: We’ve come to Warren Avenue now. This is probably the busiest street that runs through Woodbridge. Talk to me a little bit about this road and any issues that your group has identified here.
AG: One of the early issues we were concerned about was the fact that Warren runs one-way, west-bound through our neighborhood. So, the city let us know that they actually, they’re working on a variety of changes that are going to result in the section of Warren in our neighborhood returning to two-way traffic, which we think is wonderful because it will slow the traffic in our neighborhood.
They’re also adding a two-way cycle track. The street will be painted a different color, like green, and bikes will be riding right next to each other, east-bound and west-bound. It’s much safer for bicyclists. It’s actually much safer for people driving cars too.
LH: I’m sure you’ve heard that bike lanes and improvements to walkability are coming to neighborhoods all over Detroit. But as a community reporter, I’ve gone out to a lot of meetings and I’ve talked to some of the residents and I’ve heard some concern from some of them saying that, “We need so many things in our neighborhood, and this isn’t something we’re asking for, and yet we’re getting it.” Some residents I’ve talked to are upset about that. I just was wondering what your thoughts are.
AG: I live here too. I’m a homeowner here, and there’s obviously a lot of issues that compete in my mind all the time for what needs to happen. We shouldn’t think about all of this as exclusive to the other things. A lot of these things need to just be happening at the same time. Sometimes the pots of money that are being spent on these activities are dedicated to those activities. Like the money to, what the city’s doing with Warren here, it’s federal money exactly for that purpose.
LH: And have you guys had any push-back here in the Woodbridge neighborhood?
AG: There’s obviously lots of ways to look at any change that could happen, any new development or a change to a way a street is configured. I think we mostly hear positive response to, both the idea of people walking together and getting out, of course, but also [to] any change that helps slow traffic or just make the community what you would call less reliant on cars.