Home > Chatter > It’s not pleasant on Division, but at least people aren’t banned from it: weekly chatter…

It’s not pleasant on Division, but at least people aren’t banned from it: weekly chatter…

Quick reflection: At least one thing was confirmed on the Division St. observational walk: spending 2-hours in this ‘place’ is nerve-racking; it’s not a pleasant place.

Is this what the community intended? Did the collective ‘we’ make a choice at some point to devote this place to simply moving ‘goods and people’ by means of motorized traffic, a method that in such single-use concentration undermines the human element? In spots on the route, best observed where the 7-foot walls, vacant lots, lack of landscaping, boarded-off entrances are located, it’s evident that at-the-least we have given-up on this place and accepted that passing through this corridor in steel boxes is more valued than slowing down, stopping and creating a community.

It’s hard not to be pessimistic after standing next to a freeway for two-hours. I only trust that the community will make an intentional choice to begin reclaiming this corridor as a place for people, while still serving our mobility needs. More follow-up on the walk next week…

Seeking reader input: Where should the next observational walk be?


Weekly Chatter

  • Passenger rail to Traverse City? Not quite, but over 100 people turned out to the Michigan By Rail Forum last night.

    Tim Fischer, Deputy Policy Director of Michigan Environmental Council speaking to the press before Great Lakes Central passenger train set-off from Cadillac to Traverse City.


  • Self-propelled unite! Digital version of Momentum launched.

To wrap, when ever you think something is impossible or someone else is telling you so, remember this visualization from Information is Beautiful that was inspired by the creator while “listening to writer Clay Shirky talk about cognitive surplus – the idea of spare brainpower in the world’s collective mind just sitting there waiting, wanting, to be harnessed.”

Have a weekend.


  1. Mike Coco
    July 23, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Gary: I’d be glad to join you on a walk of 8th street from Union to Garfield.

  2. Dave Barrons
    July 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I’d be glad to join a walk from Union to Garfield, too. This is a good idea; a great way to generate ideas/input.

  3. July 25, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Glad to see some new voices weighing in here on MyWHaT. Welcome.

    Check; 8th Street is deserving of a walk.

    One thing I learned on Friday was that 2 miles might be too much, particularly for streets where each intersection can hog up big chunks of time with observations and discussion. 8th Street has its issues, so I suggest Union St. to Woodmere Ave. would be enough, but could do the entire length if desired.

    If you missed it, I recently walked & wrote about the recently reconstructed Barlow to Garfield. Most walks won’t include the use of chalk; don’t be scared off.

    Anymore locations? Two on my list are Cass St. and Garfield.

  4. Bill Palladino
    July 25, 2010 at 11:13 am

    As one of the participants last week, I think the most powerful thing we did was to instruct people not to try to invent solutions. The idea was to simply be in the community at street level on this roadway, and to let that inform your experience. “What do you see?” “What does it feel like.” Not, “What should we do here.” In the two hours we spent on the sidewalk, there were only a small handful of other people who passed us by. And most every one of them were joggers. No-one really using it as a pedestrian by-way.

    Something I learned was that Division is not a big street in reality. The issue seems to be its purposing and design. That was supported when I got home and looked at the photos. When there are few or no cars present, the road looks like a tree-lined residential street. That is as long as you keep the ten foot stone walls out of focus, and you snapped the shutter during the interludes of traffic. At several points we measured the traffic load, and I think many of us were stunned at how overbuilt the road felt. There would be 30 or 45 seconds of hectic, noisy, rumbling traffic….then nothing for two minutes.

    On many occasions Gary would just stroll out into the middle the road to snap pictures. It made us all a bit nervous (again design issues) but he did it without much worry. And a reminder that we did the walk between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM on a Friday in the summer.

    The next walk should have more bodies, some city staff, and maybe law enforcement.

  5. June Thaden
    July 26, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Interesting comments, Gary & Bill. And Yes! to a walk from Union to Woodmere. My kneejerk thought is based on past observation, either from my bike or car: one traffic lane each direction with a turning lane, plus bike lane.

    Walking, and talking, may be very informative to all our preconceived ideas. And definitely, Bill, to be more effective, invite some city staff & a couple of Commission people.

    Another piece of 8th St. to be diligent about is from Garfield to US-31, where the road painting is wearing completely off. Is there a decision in the making that we don’t know about?? I think it has worked well, but it worries me that the lines haven’t been repainted when most of the city’s streets were. Four lane streets encourage motorists to cut back & forth to gain a bit of advantage.

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