Connectivity

Introduction

A key component of the Imagine Cass which was echoed in the placemaking visioning was the desire for a more broadly connected, bicycle-friendly community.

The Village’s 2019 Master Plan included a downtown streetscape redesign focused on improving multi-modal accessibility through the downtown and adjacent neighborhoods. The plan’s road diet strategies would slow traffic, allow for bike lanes, and increase safety.

The Village has since progressively moved forward with this plan, including an investment of $7 million to implement the Broadway Corridor Vision with one of the four goals focusing on improving pedestrian and bicycle access along Broadway and State Streets. 

To continue the momentum of this success and truly create a bicycle-friendly community, we recommend The Village of Cassopolis extend the complete streets strategy connecting major nodes such as downtown, the lakes, the school, as well as MEC’s new SMART Park.

Description

Research shows that bicycle-friendly infrastructure is beneficial not only for riders but for the entire community making drivers more cautious while clearing sidewalks for pedestrians. 

Not only are there immense health and safety benefits, but communities with bicycle infrastructure are simply attractive to potential residents. A community that visibly invests in itself and offers entertainment and recreation reflects livability and high quality of life.

This proposed bicycle master plan would create an extremely attractive amenity to residents and visitors alike while improving connectivity and encouraging tourism, recreation, and environmentally-friendly commuting options. 

The routes were chosen to best connect the scenic and important community areas while also minimizing the impact to wetlands and other natural areas.

This plan would require a joint effort of investment from the Village as well as the county. The mileage of the proposed segments can be found in the appendices divided by category and responsibility between based on jurisdiction. 

Luckily, the majority of the proposed route is made up of Sharrows which are just painted lanes and bicycle icons on existing pavement. 

The timeline for this project can be as fast as 6-8 weeks for the sharrow sections to a few years while acquiring the ROW (Right of way) for the new trails.

Funding

Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)

TAP is a competitive grant program that funds projects such as bike paths, streetscapes, and historic preservation of transportation facilities that enhance Michigan’s intermodal transportation system, promote walkability, and improve quality of life for Michigan citizens.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS)

Safe Routes to School is a school-based international movement to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children, including those with disabilities, to bicycle and walk to school.

The Michigan SRTS program offers communities two kinds of opportunities to receive Federal funding for an SRTS program:

  • The Major Grant is a grant to help communities build sidewalks, crosswalks, and any other infrastructure improvements that may be needed to make it possible for students to walk, bike, and roll safely to school.  There is up to $220,000/school available for infrastructure projects. The Major Grant requires communities to undergo an in-depth planning process prior to submitting an application that can take anywhere from six months to a year. Application deadlines are on an on-going and rolling basis. 
  • The Mini-Grant is a programming only grant, to help schools build a culture of walking, biking, and rolling among students. Mini-grants can help you fund a walking school bus program, an incentive program, a remote drop site, bike rodeos, and more.  Schools can apply, once a year, for up to $10,000 each or up to $100,000 for districts with 10 or more schools. The application opens each year in January. 

League of Michigan Bicyclists Micro-Grant Program

Funds projects up to $2,000 to foster the growth of bicycling initiatives across Michigan. The Micro-Grant Program provides financial assistance to support the implementation of creative projects that promote bicycling and the safety of bicyclists on Michigan roadways. The Micro-Grants are small by design in order to support innovation and encourage groups who may have limited resources to dedicate towards fund development. Could be an excellent resource for programming ideas like or bicycle parking/fix-it stations or other trail amenities that encourage ridership.

Resources

Federal Highway Administration

Federal Highway Administration

Michigan Complete Streets Coalition

Michigan Complete Streets Coalition

The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition began in 2009 as a way to connect grassroots Complete Streets movements across the state. Today, the Coalition represents over 100 organizations, businesses and individuals. It is led by the League of Michigan Bicyclists, the Michigan Environmental Council, and AARP Michigan. They work to promote statewide Complete Streets policy and support local communities’ initiatives.

Elements of a Complete Street Policy

Elements of a Complete Street Policy by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition

The Better Block resource toolkit - bike lane recipe

The Better Block resource toolkit – bike lane recipe

The Better Block Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that educates, equips, and empowers communities and their leaders to reshape and reactivate built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods.

Minnesota's Best Practices for Pedestrian Bicycle Safety

Action Steps

1

Set Village and County resolutions

WHO: The Village of Cassopolis, Cass County

HOW: The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition has an extensive list of local resources including various city and county complete street resolutions, plans, designs, and policies. 

Elements of a Complete Street Policy by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition.

2

Agree on route and details of amendments

WHO: The Village of Cassopolis, Cass County

HOW: Meet to review the proposed Bicycle Master Plan, agree on a route, and details of amendments.

Review the map and attached appendix, the mileage of all the proposed segments can be found divided by category and responsibility between the Village and the County based on jurisdiction.

3

Agree on route and details of amendments

WHO: The Village of Cassopolis, Cass County

HOW: Discuss timeline and budgeting options between the city and county. 

The most costly elements will likely be the trail areas. The village contains about 60% of the total trail length. So while the county shows  61% of the system length, a greater proportion is the relatively cheaper sharrows. 

Reduce project costs even further by coupling Road Diets with regularly scheduled resurfacing. 

Explore additional state and federal funding options.

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