Complete Streets Pontiac (Adopted 01-04-2017)

A Plan for People who Walk, Bike and Drive


A successful and sustainable transportation system places people first and incorporates four key elements: Supporting Policies, the Built Environment, Promotional Efforts and Evaluation Methods.  Policies set the stage for a change in the built environment. Promotional efforts are necessary to realize the potential of improvements.  Evaluation is key to determine if resources were well spent and are achieving the desired result.

This plan outlines the key recommendations for each of the four categories mentioned .  It is by no means an exhaustive list; there are many best practices that have not been included.  The focus of this plan is on achievable priority objectives that may be accomplished over the next five to ten years that address the key issues and opportunities identified through public engagement.  Once these objectives have been accomplished, it is recommended that the City revisit the physical improvements, the policies, promotional efforts and evaluation tools it uses, as new best practices are being developed constantly.

Summary of Public Input

The project began with a Steering Committee Kickoff Meeting on November 11, 2015 that included a walking and bicycling tour of the City.

Over the next few month, nine Public Input Meetings were held throughout the City of Pontiac to collect input from residents. The first round of meetings introduced the project to the public and input was collected on what would make it easier to walk and bike in the City of Pontiac. Based on the input from the first round, a preliminary plan was created and then presented during the second round of meetings for additional input.

Throughout both rounds of input, online maps were provided to collect input from participants who were unable to attend any of the meetings.


At the start of the project, ten public meetings were held with representatives of the general population. These were typically standing meetings that the project was invited to be a part of rather than special meetings that targeted people who were interested in pedestrian and bicycle issues.  At all of the meetings, the project was well received and the people in attendance were supportive of efforts being made to improve the conditions for walking and bicycling in the community.  The following summarizes the key issues that were discussed at those meetings.

  • Mobility

    Sidewalk gaps and poor sidewalk pavement condition
    Snow and ice on sidewalks
    Physical barriers – busy roads without crosswalks, railroads and river
    Clinton River Trail surface condition

  • Personal Safety

    Threatening stray dogs
    Overgrown vegetation
    Lack of functioning street lights

  • Traffic Safety

    Unsafe road crossings
    No bike facilities on busy roads
    Motorists blocking crosswalks, speeding, not yielding to pedestrians
    People walking in the road
    Faded pavement markings
    Signal timings not set for pedestrians
    Roads in bad condition for everyone


Beyond identifying issues at the public meetings, the meeting attendees also offered a number of ideas on how best to address the issues that were being discussed.  Some of the opportunities were specific such as “I would like to see bike lanes on _____ Street.”  These comments were noted and in many cases already identified as opportunities, and if not the preliminary Multi-Modal Network Map was adjusted.  In addition to the in-person meetings, input was also gathered online via interactive crowdsourcing maps where specific opportunities were identified. The following summarize the key opportunities that were raised through public meetings.

  • Engage the Community

    Connect with and work with local businesses
    Tie senior housing into the network as many of them do not have access to cars
    Work with congregations on programing

  • Develop Programs

    Set up walking groups through workplaces and places of worship
    Provide bicycle education for children through school and places of worship
    Establish safe routes to school programs with an initial focus on crossing guards
    Have the Sheriff’s Office put more focus on enforcing the speed limits on the busy streets
    Safety and education outreach to motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists

  • Build on Existing Resources

    Create routes and interpretive systems that pay homage to the city’s history
    Place walking trails in the parks and connect them to citywide walking and bicycling routes
    Complete the Clinton River Trail

One reoccurring theme was that the people of Pontiac were tired of their town being a drive through city.  There was a sense that the needs of the residents were secondary to those of the people who only drive through Pontiac to get from one place to another.  The City’s transportation corridors were often seen as more of a barrier to transportation than a means of transportation.  Residents do not see the transportation network as theirs, but rather something that is imposed on them.

The overarching theme of the opportunities was that just about any improvements to pedestrian and bicycle conditions would be welcome.  People commented positively on the new bike parking and fix-it stations being added around the City.  People also noted how they were impressed with many of the new bicycle facilities being added in Detroit and how Ferndale has gone through a rapid transformation over the past few years with many improvements to pedestrian and bicycle facilities.


While there was great support for the ideas presented at the meetings, one constant in the discussions was the issue on how the proposed improvements were going to be paid for and just as important, how were they going to be maintained? Given the City’s recent financial challenges, there was a desire to set realistic expectations.

The recommendations for the physical improvements as well as the policies, programs and evaluation approaches reflect this reality. Yes, more can be done, but the focus is on how to leverage limited resources and utilize community partnerships, to yield the most positive change for the least amount of money.

Cost of Doing Nothing


From 2004 to 2014, automobiles struck 306 pedestrians and 183 bicycles in the City of Pontiac. That works out to be over 3 crashes each month.  Additionally, pedestrian and bicycle fatal crashes made up 36% of all crashes for that time period; over twice the state average. Each crash results in a tremendous physical and emotional toll on the person hit and their families. There is also an emotional toll on the drivers of vehicles that hit the pedestrians and bicyclists.

Beyond the emotional and physical costs of each crash there is an economic cost. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) makes estimates of the average economical and societal costs of fatal and nonfatal injuries. The NHTSA considers the calculable costs of crashes are wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, vehicle damage and employer’s uninsured costs. When doing a cost benefit analysis for a transportation project, one must look beyond those costs and take into account a measure of the value of lost quality of life. The NHTSA uses figures based on empirical studies to determine the more inclusive average comprehensive cost. Using NHSTA’s average costs figures from 2010, the comprehensive cost of those 489 pedestrian and bicycle crashes over that 11 year period is over 272 million dollars. This works out to be 24.75 million dollars a year or $4,575 per resident each year. Click here for more details.


a Year