Declaration of Intent

Declaration of Intent

UPDATED 01/01/2011

My Wheels are Turning was created to explore how and why it is we move and to explore the values that we promote when we make those choices. It’s for people who walk, wheel, use motor vehicles and those who stand by the side of the road.

Since it’s launch in January of 2010, it quickly evolved into a forum that went beyond mere mobility issues. As it turns out, it’s primarily about public space, because our common space is largely claimed by a single use: the automobile.

MyWHaT was created to help expand the understanding of how we can fully design, use, and interact with those spaces, and each other, with more equity, inclusiveness and resiliency.  And, still drive our automobiles–albeit, hopefully a lot more efficiently than we do now.

It was created with three intentions:

  1. To share ideas & stories from within NW lower Michigan and from points beyond.
  2. To advocate & organize for livable, interconnected streets & communities.
  3. To celebrate community & active transportation. To play. To Connect.

We do take positions and we do petition our local decision makers, but we use considerable caution in presenting issues fairly with the information publicly provided or shared with us. With so much information available, often it simply needs to be aggregated into more accessible, contextualized forms in order for the community to become engaged. That is the primary role of MyWHaT & why these groups have become underwriters.

Social Trails

The Grand Vision made the case that more people than might be expected want to be involved in regional planning and in creating a place that is unique. To take the next step, we need venues where positive, solution orientated energy is harnessed and great ideas (questions) articulated, explored and promoted.

This is just one venue; we need a network and many more voices.

As well, we need more YIMBYs (Yes In My Backyard).

This blog wants and needs to hear from readers. Are You…

  • a resident who has a specific idea?
  • a visitor who sees an area in need of addressing?
  • a government representative who is looking for support/feedback?

If so, after you pull over, please send a message, comment on a post, talk on Twitter, Facebook or invite the editor to coffee.

Click here if you would like to contribute as an underwriter or via donation.

Let’s ride. Or, walk. Whatever. Let’s connect.


Consider a donation

  1. Jenee Rowe
    January 4, 2010 at 11:44 am

    We live in downtown Suttons Bay and have noticed that Village commuters need to get their stories out too… My family sends one breadwinner to T.C to work in a carpool daily and hopefully by bike in warmer weather. We have noticed that TART Trails needs help routing the Leelanau Trail through the Village of Suttons Bay and northward. Can you check out… why does the Leeanau Trail effectively stop at the SB Depot? When will the Village of SB support bikers with signs and a safe route?

    What infastructure do we need to support safe Bike Wine Tours? There are several parks owned by townships and villages along M-22, what do they need to support bike tourists? Do the wineries have basic bike support gear?

  2. January 4, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Thanks for the comments, Jenee. This BLOG is certainly a regional endeavor and Suttons Bay is on the list. Thank you for the heads-up. And the tourist money associated with bicycle tours through wine country has just begun. Regional governments need to step it up and provide support for it. Citizens need to step it up and ask for it.

    There will be initial limits to the scope that this site can cover. In addition to a steep learning curve, volunteer time and energy will need to be monitored. However, I’m in it for the long haul and that includes generating a way for the work to be supported.

  3. January 22, 2010 at 7:39 am

    TART owns the former railroad right of way all the way up to Bodus Road. The Suttons Bay Village Council and TART need to sit down and cooperate. When the Leelanau Trails Association bought the right of way, many in SB were MAD! Have opinions in SB changed? Let’s let the trail go all the way to Bodus Road. Interestingly, one anti-trail family based in Northport bought the right of way from Bodus Road to the Northport Marina to scuttle any plans of the trail heading north! They forced all of the adjacent land owners to buy the property, thus, forever denying the trail to head to Northport. That bad karma continues to this day. Northport is struggling and stranded. Wanna fix it?

  4. January 22, 2010 at 7:40 am
  5. January 22, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Eventually, I would like to write and advocate more for all of Northern Michigan. Including trail extension, but also for improved road amenities so bike riders feel more safe on the roadways. As I dig into this, it is increasingly layered with issues. And, I have less and less time! Spring and summer are times when I expect Wheels to reach further afield. As always appreciate the comments, support and advice. Looks great!

  6. January 31, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    it’s a shame that family couldn’t have just put up a fence if they don’t want to see people. i’d really like to know their reasons why they were so against it.

    i would love to see frankfort’s trail extended further north as well! unfortunately, there are no bike lanes though.

    long distance rides are so much nicer-not to mention MORE SAFE with a dedicated path or trail.

    it would be nice if someday there was a complete alternative to roads so bicycles wouldn’t have to ride next to motor vehicles period.

  7. May 29, 2010 at 9:42 am

    TART owns the former railroad right of way all the way up to Bodus Road. The Suttons Bay Village Council and TART need to sit down and cooperate. When the Leelanau Trails Association bought the right of way, many in SB were MAD! Have opinions in SB changed? Let’s let the trail go all the way to Bodus Road. Interestingly, one anti-trail family based in Northport bought the right of way from Bodus Road to the Northport Marina to scuttle any plans of the trail heading north! They forced all of the adjacent land owners to buy the property, thus, forever denying the trail to head to Northport. That bad karma continues to this day. Northport is struggling and stranded. Wanna fix it?

  8. June 8, 2010 at 9:19 am


    The City’s plan for the proposed Boardman Lake Avenue does not include
    any bicycle lanes. We should address this now. Does MWAT have a position
    on this? thanks!

  9. Bill Palladino
    June 8, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I wish you’d been on the corner of 10th and Lake Sts in front of Oryana for the smart commute breakfast this morning Mary Beth. We had an impromptu debate regarding this issue, more precisely the need/or not for this road anymore. It’s certainly not designed with bikes in mind.

    Some feel the current design is out of date and doesn’t reflect the many changes in the community over the last decade, (Oryana’s commitment to the neighborhood, removal of tracks, addition of the pedestrian bridge over the river, etc.) Some feel it would help the neighborhoods by allowing a relief to traffic zigging and zagging from 8th to S. Cass. Some feel the road could simply become another Division St, separating the neighborhoods from parkland. And finally, some feel it might work if it were redesigned as a true parkway, like those around the lakes in Minneapolis or even Milwaukee – two lanes, narrow, slow, with intentional view-sheds, and obvious, safe, places for pedestrians to cross.

    You’re right to put this back on our map. It needs new sets of eyes.

  10. June 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for bringing this up for discussion, Mary. I was a little put off a couple weeks ago when, at the city commission meeting, Boardman Avenue was discussed as a done deal waiting to happen. I certainly don’t recall ‘a promise’ to the Old Towne neighborhood for this road to be constructed or the city striking promises with one neighborhood specifically. I have looked at the stack of paperwork and history of this project, as well as the current preliminary design by the engineering department. To be honest, I’m planning on doing so again for a future post (July?) as I wasn’t expecting such a body of paper to sort through.

    Needlessly to say, I didn’t leave the governmental building confident that this project was good for Traverse City. As designed and planned, West Boardman Lake Avenue would serve one purpose, to move cars as quickly as possible a total of about a half mile from 14th Street to 8th Street. It is planned as a 35mph stretch, which would be designed to handle cars going 45-50mph (and many would take advantage of that) and includes no bike lanes, no sidewalks, no parking, no real traffic calming enhancements. If I recall correctly, it DOES have non-signalized crosswalks and middle ‘refuge’ islands. I can’t remember the specifics, but I wasn’t overly impressed; it’s a road to move cars.

    I question it’s intention as relieving cut-through traffic through the Old Towne neighborhood. Road building seldom reduces traffic. It typically increases traffic by making it more convenient to drive as well as reducing the comfort level of active transportation options. The new deck the city is so proud of is between Union and Cass St. and I hazard to guess that the majority of those vehicles are going to continue to use the neighborhood. It’s only a half-mile and there is no clear advantage to going out of the way for a half-mile by-pass.

    Bill summed up this morning’s conversation quite well. it was a debate trying to see the multiple sides of the issue, myself even trying to find a reason we might ‘need‘ a road through this corridor…I can picture one, something like a true parkway, with additional development, but I can’t envision such a thing with the current leadership, staff and funding. They will do it on the cheap and it will be far from complete; just another Division Street dividing parts of the city from each other and our natural wealth.

    OK. Well, that was my quick reply. Not sure if it is a MyWHaT official editorial position or if all the information is 100% accurate. I promise to return to the matter in the near future. It currently isn’t moving anywhere fast, but you’re correct that we need to address it before it gets too far as the money is there for what they have planned.

    I found one Record Eagle archived article from 2001 announcing the progress of the West Boardman Lake Avenue project. I agree with the idea that this area could use attention and is underutilized part of the urban scene, however, building one dimensional infrastructure is no longer understood as sound investment. Like car ownership, the moment you drive it off the lot, or in this case finish construction, it begins to devalue and cost you more than is often worth.

    TC’s ‘West Boardman Lake Avenue’ closer to becoming a reality
    By BILL O’BRIEN June 24, 2001

    TRAVERSE CITY – The city’s plans for a new road on the west side of Boardman Lake got a $1.5 million boost from the State of Michigan.

    The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has approved Grand Traverse County’s request for a state “brownfield” designation for the area where the city has proposed building West Boardman Lake Avenue.

    The new road would start at Eighth Street and travel south to 14th Street to route traffic around the neighborhoods west of the lake.

    The city commission will discuss the brownfield designation at its next study session scheduled for July 9 and could assign a specific timetable to a project that a just a few months ago appeared to still be at least several years away.

    “This puts it up near the top of our priority list,” city manager Richard Lewis said.
    While the brownfield designation doesn’t mean any money up front for the project, it will eventually provide an estimated $1.5 million in what’s termed “tax recapture” funding by diverting future state and local tax revenue back to the city. The city also has been setting aside money for Boardman Lake road from the sale of several city-owned properties that were pieced together over the past several decades for an east-west arterial road. Plans for that road were officially scrapped by the commission last year.

    City officials project that the new West Boardman Lake Avenue will divert 18,000 vehicles per day from Cass and Union streets in the Old Town neighborhood. (HOW?)

    Construction costs are estimated at $4.5 million, not including costs for right-of-way acquisition. The city already has completed some preliminary engineering work for the project, first listed in city plans around seven years ago.

    The city also will purchase two easements from developers of a nearby housing project to provide access to a public recreation area on Boardman Lake waterfront, and eventual development of a pedestrian trail to circle the lake.

    The state Department of Transportation also has agreed to allow the city to relocate the railroad tracks on the west side of the lake to accommodate the road plans.

    The road project is an extension of an earlier brownfield designation by the state for Boardman West LLC, which is building a 174-unit condominium project on a 13.5-acre parcel on the west side of the lake. Recent changes to the state brownfield legislation also provides for tax recapture moneys for items like new roads and other infrastructure work, building demolition and site preparation.

    “The company’s investment in Traverse City will restore a severely underused property and help increase the property value along the waterfront,” said Doug Rothwell, head of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

  11. Lee Maynard
    June 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Bill, thanks for the post with all the info. West Boardman Lake Ave needs to be a place for pedestrian and all other modes of travel, not a pain… what can we do?

  12. Marya
    June 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Came upon unresponsive cyclist at corner of Bay and Spruce last evening (Wednesday), adjacent to the closed portion of the TART trail. Driver freely admitted his error and was so sorry. Cyclist was transported by ambulance. IS ANYONE KEEPING COUNT?

  13. Matt Pierle
    January 22, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Check this out:

    Best Practices and ThinkBike workshops spark imaginations
    The Bikes Belong Foundation holds fact-finding workshops for transportation leaders in world-famous bicycling cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Urban planners, policy-makers, and traffic engineers network with international experts and return home equipped with fresh ideas and proven solutions for making bicycling a safe, comfortable transportation choice. Dutch cities are among the safest and most welcoming for bicycle transportation — in some city centers nearly half of all trips are made on bike.

    ThinkBike Workshops, supported by the Dutch Embassy, bring Dutch transportation experts to American cities for intensive two-day design workshops to help with the challenge of translating Dutch knowledge into solutions to real-world traffic problems in American cities. A recent workshop in Los Angeles inspired locals to reimagine Spring Street (pictured), a major downtown corridor, to include bicycle facilities that could be used comfortably by anyone.

    The ideas generated during the workshop evolved and were formally implemented in late 2011.

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