Holly: Study Shows Saginaw Street is Safer, President Calls for Public Hearing

Holly: Study Shows Saginaw Street is Safer, President Calls for Public Hearing

(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 27, 2017)

Holly, MI-  Crashes and injuries are down following a road diet on Saginaw Street according to a Traffic Improvement Association Study that was received by Holly Village Council Tuesday.

Saginaw was reduced from four lanes to two lanes of traffic with a middle turn lane, and bicycle lanes by the curbs in June 2016.

TIA looked at data from two years leading up to the change, and the nine months following it to compile traffic flow and safety data.

They concluded that “Based on the traffic characteristics and observations, the corridor appears to operate well as a three lane roadway.  Volumes and speeds are similar to pre-construction conditions.  Travel times in the corridor are not adversely affected and adequate gaps exist for the side street to enter the corridor. The brief crash history shows a reduction in crashes and injuries as expected. The after period, prorated for a full year suggests a 30% reduction in crashes.”

Among the findings:

* Average travel times southbound went up 8 seconds while northbound went down 19 seconds.

* Crashes went down 37% from 10.7 crashes per year to 6.7 crashes per year

*Percentage of crashes with injury went from 38% down to 20%.

* Average speeds were 1-3 mph higher.

* Opportunities to turn left onto Saginaw were available every 11 seconds on average during peak traffic.

*At peak traffic, there are 579 vehicles per hour in that stretch.  In 2015 it was 583.

Village Manager Jerry Walker listed the benefits of the road diet beyond safety, including the bike lanes provide a buffer between sidewalk and road traffic, they eliminate high speed vehicular passing, and that having a center turn lane reduces rear end crashes that happen when drivers stop in the travel lane to make a left.  He added that the change is “more business friendly, more pedestrian friendly”

Walker also clarified an inaccuracy in a Tri County Times article.  The article reported that there had been one bicycle accident related to the bike lane.  In reality the bicyclist had been riding on the sidewalk when struck by a vehicle.

Tuesday’s Council meeting was for simply accepting the report, however there was discussion about the possibility of reverting to the four lane configuration.

Village Council President Jim Perkins has been vocal against the bike lanes and wants to have a public hearing to see if there is support for having them removed, however other Councilmembers spoke favorably of the current traffic configuration. 

Councilperson Bob Alsop said that he had been 100% against the change before, but that after seeing it he is in favor because of ways he can see that people feel safer and it makes turning left easier.

Councilperson Chris Rankin said “no public body would want to make a decision they knew would increase traffic accidents and injuries by over 30%.”

President Perkins said that he would make sure that removal of the bike lanes would get a public hearing at a future date.  He said that he spent Sunday going door to door to get opinions on it.  Of the eight he spoke to, five were against, two were for and one was undecided.  He said he’d gotten responses from others and that “it’s about half and half” on the issue. “I think we’ve got enough people that don’t want them that we need to have a public discussion,” he said.

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