Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Planning Manager Tim Kelly emails a weekly GR Forward update to the project Steering Committee. Here's this week's communication:
Good Morning All:
Hope you are finishing up another great week.
Two updates for you this week.
One of the focuses of last week’s Steering Committee presentation surrounded transportation. To understand where we are, our team analyzed the existing mode split for Downtown residents, as well as our current Walk Score (see attached slides).
Regarding mode split, according to the American Community Survey, 32 percent of Downtown residents walk, bike, or use public transit to get to work. That compares to 3 percent City-wide, and 2 percent for all of Kent County. While the mode split for Downtown is encouraging, it would appear there is still room for improvement.
In terms of walkability, as the heat map shows Downtown is very walkable. That said, some of the large blocks, diagonal and one-way streets, and inactive street frontages, create challenges, or at least the perception of challenges. The Figure Ground graphics in the Mode Split attachment helps illustrate this point. This is even more apparent when Grand Rapids is compared to more walkable cities like Chicago or Portland.
In addition to the new data, we continue to generate good traffic through our website and social media outlets. Below is a summary of the online activity to date. As we move forward I will continue to include these numbers to give you all a sense of the activity occurring.
This article on engaging Boston youth in the City’s budgeting process is really interesting: http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/boston-young-people-participatory-budgeting-winners-youth-lead-change
As the article describes, young people age 12 to 25 were brought in to participate in the development of the City’s budget. They worked with City officials to decide where $1 million of public money will be spent to best improve their communities. Students participated in all aspects of developing the budget, and in the end voted on projects in four categories: education, community culture, parks and environment.
When viewed as a tool to engage youth the program seems extremely successful. While the results will take some time to be seen, I suspect the greatest achievement will be in creating a generation of engaged and informed citizens.
Hope you all have a great weekend. If you have any questions please let me know!