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Posted on Thu, May 5, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

Ann Arbor only city in Michigan named to national walk-friendly communities list

By Cindy Heflin

Ann Arbor has made the "gold level" on a list of walk-friendly communities maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center's Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

The organization said Ann Arbor made the list because of its "outstanding planning practices, excellent sidewalk network, and walking volumes."

Ann Arbor is one of 11 communities on the list. Seattle attained the highest level, platinum. Arlington, Va.; Hoboken, N.J., and Santa Barbara, Calif., also made the gold level.

Six other communities were designated as silver or bronze. None are in Michigan.

The center said it evaluated communities that applied for the list "in several categories related to walking, including safety, mobility, access and comfort."


Craig Lounsbury

Mon, May 9, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

I contacted the folks who give out the awards via e-mail. They confirmed that Ann Arbor was the only Michigan city to apply.


Sat, May 7, 2011 : 10 p.m.

The annual summer zombie walk is probably what got us up in the rankings

Dog Guy

Fri, May 6, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

What is the "application fee" for this vanity award?


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 3:59 a.m.

"Ann Arbor is one of 11 communities on the list." That's funny. I think that's the same number of communities that actually filled out the application to be considered for this prestigious award. Really though, yes, Ann Arbor is very walkable, much like Disneyworld is walkable. If you want to walk home from your shopping trips for daily amenities however, you better have some good shoes. If you just want to pick up some diapers, cat litter, light bulbs, and don't want to pay silly shi-shi prices for a roll of hemp-woven free trade toilet paper, you have to go to the outskirts. Unless you're in to really long walks, or long waits for the bus, most families still need a car for day to day living. Yes, it's a nice place to walk, but so are the woods. As far as a place where residents can walk to their daily needs and live a car-free lifestyle, I'm sorry, but Ann Arbor is far from a "Gold Level" in my opinion.

Top Cat

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

Hoboken, NJ is a great place to walk as well. Years ago, I recall walking from the Wilton House to the Brass Rail to Maxwell's to Helmer's Cafe and then up and down side streets trying to find my car.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

As an avid walker I appreciate the sidewalk network in Ann Arbor, especially on a "warm" and sunny spring day like today. In fact, I think I'll go for a walk right now . . . : )

Bertha Venation

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

Why, this is just WONDERFUL news!!! I'm going to rush right home and bake a CAKE!!!


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

walk, don't run!


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

Really? Six posts? It's marketing the city. By bothering to fill it out and actually having something positive to say, the city gets publicity depicting it as a walkable community, which is important to generating interest in the city by employers and employees who value living in this type of city. Over time, by participating in these types of rankings, the city effectively points out that it is an attractive place to live for well-educated, highly paid, highly sought after individuals. When they come here and start businesses or help local businesses grow, we all do better. Skimming the application, I'm pretty sure this would be easy for someone on the city staff to fill out in a few hours. Ann Arbor is a very walkable and bikeable city due to hard, years-long work by the city to get that way. Doesn't seem like a "gargantuan waste of taxpayer dollars" as you seem to imply.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

"Ann Arbor is a very walkable.... city" I don't disagree. But we aren't unique in that regard. And as Lonnie points out, depending on where you walk you may have to battle bicycles...many more than other towns. I don't think these sorts of "awards" impress that many people.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

". Doesn't seem like a "gargantuan waste of taxpayer dollars" as you seem to imply." those certainly aren't my words. I'm just asking questions. I scrolled through the entire web link to the place that gave us the "award" . I still have to ask if every city who bothered to apply got a rating. If so its a bit of smoke and mirrors that "well-educated, highly paid, highly sought after individuals" may well see thru.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

If it was warmer here, our walking volumes would be up more and we would have won it! So, burn those carbon based fuels and get the green house gas up!


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 11:29 p.m.

Except thats not how climate change works. May actually prolong winters and make cooler spring/summers here but warmer at equator! Agree that all the couch potatoes need to get on their feet and mobile as much as possible, especially in corn fed Michigan. If its not icing, get outside and walk!


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

I walk every day in Ann Arbor. The problem with walking in Ann Arbor is that bicycles are allowed by law to ride on the sidewalks. During every walk that I take in AA, I have to jump out of the way of bikes maneuvering between sidewalk walkers, bikes speeding past walkers on sidewalks, and bikes coming up behind me without warning startling me as they swerve around me on the sidewalk. I have to be on constant alert not to walk over to my left or right to look in a store window, and also have to watch carefully walking out of a store door since bikers just speed by on the sidewalk. My little nephew nearly was hit by a bike as we walked out a store. The sidewalks are not safe, you have to hold kids in your arms or by their hand all the time. I called the police about bikers on the sidewalks, but they say it is legal. It's not at all relaxing walking around Ann Arbor since you have to watch all the time for bicycles on sidewalks. I can see how dangerous it is for bicyclers to ride in the streets with the distracted drivers and speeding cars, and all the potholes. Overall, it's a tough city to be a walker or a biker.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

Oh, come on. It's not like the sidewalks are teeming with bicycles. I walk quite a bit, too, and I can only recall one or two incidents where a bicyclist almost ran into me. If the sidewalks really weren't safe, then there'd be a lot more people complaining about it.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

257.660c Operation of bicycle upon sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk.(1) An individual operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or a pedestrian crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. (2) An individual shall not operate a bicycle upon a sidewalk or a pedestrian crosswalk if that operation is prohibited by an official traffic control device. (3) An individual lawfully operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or a pedestrian crosswalk has all of the rights and responsibilities applicable to a pedestrian using that sidewalk or crosswalk.

shadow wilson

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

I believe state law mandates that bicycle riders must be walking their bikes when on the sidewalk; if they are seated and riding they must adhere to all applicable traffic laws. That means they are breaking the law when riding on the sidewalk.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

here is a link to what seems to be the &quot;59 page application&quot;. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I wonder how long it took to do the research expected? I wonder how many towns applied and failed to make the grade?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

This smells a bit like when my kids were little playing U-8 soccer. At the end of the season we all had a little party and everybody got a trophy.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 6:50 p.m.

did any other city in Michigan bother to fill out an application?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

how long did it take to fill it out? Who filled it out? Why?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 6:50 p.m.

who decided we should fill out an application?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

&quot;The center said it evaluated communities that applied for the list ...&quot; So if you didn't apply you weren't evaluated? boy oh boy does that generate a list of questions.....