To the editor:
Garden Street between South Payne Street and Center Street is undergoing some significant changes this summer, and they're definitely for the better. Garden is an incredibly important street for our community that connects people to the recreation center, the schools, the county services building and more. The end result of these changes will be greater safety and visibility for ALL users of the road, including pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles.
Last fall, a report prepared for New Ulm by transportation and planning experts at the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute identified multiple safety concerns and conflict points for people and vehicles in this area. In fact, I have heard many people in the community say they avoid this area altogether during school travel periods.
The improvements in the works will make the street significantly safer. They include the elimination of parking on the residential side of the street, the addition of bike lanes on each side of the street, and a mid-block crosswalk with an island and angled crosswalk. These will increase safety for several reasons:
1) Pedestrians will no longer have to dart across the street from behind or between parked cars to get to the school or athletic fields. This will allow for drivers to put their focus back on the road, instead of worrying about children running out in front of their vehicles.
2) Bike lanes will provide safer areas for bicyclists to ride on the road, and the narrower lane for vehicles will shorten the amount of time that pedestrians crossing the street are in their path. Shorter crossing times equate to a reduced risk for pedestrians being hit.
3) A narrower street will also help calm traffic, as motorists tend to drive slower. Any accidents that do occur are much less serious at slower speeds.
4) With the mid-block crossing, pedestrians will only have to watch for traffic coming from one direction instead of two directions as they cross the street.
In addition to safety, these improvements will also help encourage students and everyone in our community to be more active and use walking or hiking for transportation. I applaud our city leaders and other supporters in our community for putting the safety of our residents and especially our children first while also helping a culture of health continue to blossom in our community.
Member, Coalition for Active, Safe and Healthy Streets in New Ulm