1. Bikeway and Walkway Plans

Bikeway and Walkway plans are designed to provide for a safe and efficient non-motorized circulation system throughout the City of Kalamazoo. As part of the KATS Long Range Plan, existing and proposed bikeway routes were identified in the urban area. The Bikeways Committee set up by KATS to review and upgrade the existing (1982) bikeway plan, came up with the following objectives:

  • Identify major generators of actual and potential bike users.
  • Develop practical routes for the major generators.
  • Work to provide direct and continuous bicycle transportation routes with selected major generators.
  • Identify corridors between urban and rural area.
  • Encourage design on new bridges, underpasses, and culverts to accommodate non-motorized transportation.
  • Encourage linking efforts (coordination of bike routes) between all participating agencies.
  • Encourage identification of high bicycle accident locations for future safety improvements.
  • Encourage participating agencies to explore sources of revenue to promote bicycle safety education.

In addition, the committee also came up with some design guidelines to safely accommodate bicycle travel:

  • On curbed roads, as identified by the above objectives and as they are reconstructed or widened, additional outside lane width should be provided to accommodate bicycle use where funds and right-of-way permit.
  • On paved roads without curbs, as identified by the above objectives and as they are resurfaced, reconstructed, or widened, paved shoulders on both sides of the road should be provided.
  • Bikeway designs for both types of improvements should reflect current AASHTO and or FHWA guidelines.The committee came up with a Conceptual Bikeway Plan (Figure VII-6) that provides access to the area's major schools and businesses and activity centers (shopping malls). Since the goal is to encourage non-motorized transit for commuting purposes, recreational bikeway routes were intentionally excluded from the plan. Local road agencies have started to utilize the bikeways plan to identify bike route improvements when rehabilitating/reconstructing specific roads in the area.

2. Existing Bikeways

 Existing bikeways and proposed bikeway projects of City of Kalamazoo appear in Figure VII-7. The existing bikeways include:

  • Academy Street Route from Bronson Park to Kalamazoo College on existing sidewalk with bike route signs.
  • Michigan Street Route running from Academy Street along Stadium Drive to Michigan Street to the center of the Western Michigan University Campus on existing sidewalks with bike route signs.
  • Oakland Drive Route on existing sidewalk from Oliver Street to Whites Road.
  • Howard Street Route from Knollwood Avenue to Oakland Drive involving a new concrete sidewalk on the east side of the street.
  • Main Street Route from Nicholas Road to Picadilly Road involving an asphalt pathway along the north side of the street.

In general, the sidewalks are in disrepair along Academy Street, and the Howard Street and Main Street Bikeways are in excellent condition.

The City of Kalamazoo is presently pursuing the development of a non-motorized transportation plan that is to be a model plan for non-motorized transportation for use by MDOT as a statewide guide. MDOT has provided Federal Surface Transportation Program Transportation Enhancement funds amounting to $120,000 for this planning effort. The proposed non-motorized transportation plan is to address connections within and to surrounding communities, to establish a non-motorized commuter system (bikeways, walkway, etc.), and to provide a preliminary definition of facilities, capital costs and funding sources to implement the proposed system.Figure VII-6

Existing and Proposed Bikeways

Figure VII-7

Existing bikeways and rail lines

3. Trailways

Several jurisdictions are pursuing the connection of the present Kal-Haven Trail through the City of Kalamazoo to the Battle Creek Linear Park. The Kal-Haven Trail presently terminates at US 131 and Business Route US 131 northwest of the City of Kalamazoo (specifically Trail Head Park on 10th Street to the south of H Avenue in Oshtemo Township). H Avenue was recently improved to provide non-motorized access to the trail. The Kal-Haven Trail runs about 38 miles along the abandoned Conrail trackage from South Haven to US 131. It serves as a recreation trail for bicycles and cross country skiing, and is part of the State Recreation System.

 The City of Kalamazoo has initiated a greenway/trailway connector project to address the extension of the Kal-Haven Trail through the City of Kalamazoo. The City has received a $35,000 grant of federal Transportation Enhancement funds from MDOT to define the corridor, and the Forum of Kalamazoo County has provided a match to these funds of $18,000 that the Forum is using to build a consensus among the affected jurisdictions and citizens.

Opportunities for the trailway linkage include:

  • the abandoned Conrail right-of-way from US 131 to Westnedge Avenue, just north of Kalamazoo Avenue, in downtown Kalamazoo where the active rail corridor is joined, and
  • the Conrail corridor roughly from northwest of downtown Kalamazoo eastward to the City of Battle Creek.

Key components of the greenway/trailway connection would include:

  • Sutherland Park (previously Riverview Park) on the east side of the City of Kalamazoo where the "Edward J. Annen, Jr. Sports and Recreation Complex Master Plan" (February, 1996) established a trailway presently running along the bank of the Kalamazoo River in this park.
  • Georgia-Pacific who has acquired the abandoned Conrail right-of-way to the east of Sutherland Park, but has indicated their willingness to provide trail access through their property.
  • The potential for the proposed trailway to pass through Red Arrow Golf Course to the west of Sutherland Park and depart from the south bank of the Kalamazoo River to follow the Arcadia Creek corridor into downtown Kalamazoo where the City has made a major investment in a park along Arcadia Creek (northeast corner of Water Street and Burdick Street).
  • The trailway could also connect the Arcadia Creek corridor to the Kal-Haven Trail through a southeastward extension of trail along abandoned Conrail tracks to the northwest corner of downtown.
  • The trailway may also have a branch from the main trail to Maple Glen Park (soon to be renamed Markin Glen Park) which is north of the City of Kalamazoo and abutting the northward Conrail tracks and the Kalamazoo River. The City of Kalamazoo is presently developing a linear park along the Kalamazoo River from Verburg Park to Michigan Avenue (Red Arrow Golf Course). Thus, the Kalamazoo River may be followed northward from Verburg Park to Maple Glen Park. The development of the trailway along the Kalamazoo River from Battle Creek to the Kal-Haven Trail and Maple Glen Park is also known as the Kalamazoo River Valley Trailway, and would join the Michigan Trailway system up through Grand Rapids and the North Country Trail system.

In summary, these key components open the possibility of two major corridors: One, an eastward extension of the Kal-Haven Trail to Maple Glen Park and then along the Kalamazoo River. Second, the southeastward extension of the Kal-Haven Trail along the abandoned Conrail right-of-way through downtown Kalamazoo along Arcadia Creek to the Kalamazoo River near Red Arrow Golf Course. The Forum of Kalamazoo County has already conducted a series of meetings in surrounding communities such as Augusta, Galesburg and Comstock to the east of the City of Kalamazoo to build a consensus on the development of the trail from the City of Kalamazoo to the City of Battle Creek. The next step is for the City of Kalamazoo to define the preferred corridor(s) for connecting the trail through the City.

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