MILWAUKEE — One of the goals of the newly signed "Connecting MKE: Downtown Plan 2040" is to redesign downtown streets to improve transportation in mobility. A goal that city leaders tell TMJ4 News will improve safety and could help combat reckless driving.
"It seemed quite clear that appropriate that one of the major goals in our downtown plan is to help make Milwaukee the most walkable and accessible downtown in the U.S.," said LaFayette Crump, Commissioner of Milwaukee's Department of City Development. "There are key pieces that we are focused on, that includes widening sidewalks, that includes safe and protected bike lanes, that includes things that we can do to slow down traffic."
In addition to updating roads, the city also hopes to shift the culture on downtown streets.
"Our goal is to constantly pivot people's mindset and make the city more useful in a different mode of transportation from scooters to walking to biking," said Jerrel Kurschke, Commissioner of the city's Department of Public Works.
Kurschke pointed to continued increased ridership on the city's streetcar, called The Hop, as an example of people adjusting to changes in the downtown area.
"Get people on scooters, get people using buses, get people using the street cars. I think these are all great alternatives instead of just driving a vehicle downtown and cluttering the downtown area," he said.
The city uses an organization called Walk Score to rate walkability and accessibility. Right now, Downtown Milwaukee has a score of 99 out of 100, which is called "A walkers paradise."
Milwaukee's Walk Score is 62 for the entire city.
Chicago has a Walkscore of 77, which is currently the highest in the Midwest, according to the organization's website.
Commissioner Crump says he wants to diversify options for connecting people in the downtown area, which he also thinks could help combat reckless driving, not only downtown but throughout the entire city.
"It's important that as much as we're talking about this as the most walkable and accessible downtown in the Midwest, we want that to permeate out into the city as a whole.
A comprehensive plan could mean a safer environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike.
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