Results: 2019 Walking Audit of Garfield Avenue

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GARFIELD AVE WALKING AUDIT RESULTS

On July 18, 2019 two-dozen engaged citizens took part in a walking audit of Garfield Ave Walking. Norte was joined by representatives from the City of Traverse City’s Planning and Engineering departments, planning commission, Michigan Department of Transportation, and Team Norte, including graduates of the Advocate Academy.

Given the mixed contexts and conditions of the corridor from Bryant Park south to Hannah Ave., it was a challenge to zero in on one takeaway other than that there are a lot of opportunities for changing this corridor into a street that is safe and inviting for all ages. The aggregate score for that specific question was a dismal 32%. Contributing factors that need to be addressed include:

  • Confusing and missing crosswalks
  • Missing and narrow sidewalks
  • Heavy and noisy motorized traffic
  • Wide (and prioritized) driveways

There were some positives. Sections of sidewalks and many ramps were brand new in July. Participants also learned about the coming improvements to the intersection of Peninsula Drive and M-37 by Bryant Park. This notoriously wide and nearly impossible to cross intersection will be narrowed by nearly 50% and squared off. This will slow people in cars down and improve the likelihood of people on foot or bike being seen.

This was the first Norte walking audit using a new scoring chart to help guide the experience. Participants were asked to score from 0-5 sections of the corridor with the following questions for a total of 25 points.

  1. Walking Enjoyable?
  2. Easy to Cross Streets?
  3. Drivers Courteous and Aware?
  4. Room to Walk?
  5. Safe and Inviting for All Ages? 

An additional 10 points was available for Placemaking elements like sidewalks, bike lanes, and tree canopy. The composite average score ended up 13 out of 35 total points (a dismal grade of 37% for Pro Walk/Pro Bike conditions). This result supports the majority of the comments reflected with this one: “everything about this corridor is unpleasant for non motorized travel!

Scores

  • Overall: Average 13.2/35, 38%
  • Walking Enjoyable? Average 1.8/5, 36%
  • Easy to Cross Streets? Average 1.5/5, 30%
  • Drivers Courteous and Aware? Average 2.7/5, 54%
  • Room to Walk? Average 1.8, 5, 35%
  • Safe and Inviting for All Ages? Average 1.6, 32%
  • Placemaking? Average 3.5/10, 35%

In the slideshow here, you can see examples of many of the observations collected.

  • Positives are represented with new sidewalks and ramps in places. As well, the highest combined score was driver behavior (54%, grading on curve not bad).  Overall the corridor is dated and reflects privatization of people in cars over people on foot, on bike, or in wheelchair.
  • Crosswalks are confusing, in disrepair, or non-existent. From Bryant Park to Hannah Ave., there are only 3 formalized crosswalks, not including the trail crossing near Hannah. This is despite a half dozen natural crossings at intersections.
  • Curb-cuts are abundant and are a challenge to cross due to steep grades, wide turning radius, or the use of slip lanes that encourage higher speeds.
  • Sidewalks are missing near Bryant Park and south of 8th St. In most places, the sidewalks are noticeably narrow making it difficult for more than two people or someone in a wheelchair to navigate.
  • The overall experience centers on the overwhelming loudness and pollution from heavy traffic (we walked during summer  rush hour) and lack of cover from shade trees.

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Norte Neighborhood Pro Walk/Pro Bike Advocacy would like to conduct regular walking audits in Northern Michigan. There was a lot learned on this walking audit not just about the street, but how to better facilitate these audits. One suggestion that was echoed by many of the participants was lack of comparative knowledge in how to assign a score.

Walking audits are surprisingly overwhelming! I felt like there was so much to focus on that I ended up missing a lot….I would love to audit a “good” street (maybe 8th once it’s done)–I felt like I had no context/scale for my scoring, so a “good” comparison would be helpful!

With 8th Street set to be finished before the snow falls, that might indeed be our next walk! If you would like to join us and have a street or area to nominate for a future walking audit, please let us know!