East Hills Complete Streets
East Hill is the 3rd most walkable neighborhood in Grand Rapids with a Walkscore of 76 out of 100. We consistently see our sidewalks filled with shoppers, runners and people walking their dogs. Every morning the sidewalks are flooded with kids, their friends and parents on their way to our neighborhood school. We understand the value of living in one of Grand Rapids densest and most walkable communities, and, as our neighborhood business districts flourish, we continue to see new people from all over the region checking out what our shops have to offer. It's exciting and it's a great time to be living in East Hills, but as cars continue to flock to our streets we need to do a better job of showing off the East Hills way - leave the car and walk or bike or ride the bus!
In total, 33% of all Grand Rapids residents do not drive (they don't have a drivers license or they don't own a car). These folks aren't asking us for more parking. But as we continue growing our business districts we are beginning to attract people from all over the city and state. This is great, but we, as neighbors, cannot build East Hills with a suburban parking plan. We can't make our business districts look like the mall.
In a recent count throughout East Hills we found that, within a 5 minute walk of the East Hills Business District, there are 1,037 parking spaces. We chose the 5 minute walk or roughly .2 miles because that is the distance of most parking in a suburban environment (from a parking space at Rivertown or Woodland Mall to a store). We also have 3 distinct shopping areas in East Hills - from the businesses near Wealthy Heights to Cherry Hill there are plenty of places to shop and all within a few minutes walk from one and other. In East Hills you are never more than a 5 minute walk from a bus stop, 7 minutes from a business district or 10 minutes from one of our historic districts.
What the Complete Streets Committee is looking to do is NOT to get rid of cars or eliminate parking, it's to make sure we give people choices. We need to make it easier for drivers to find parking with signs and maps, but once they are parked we need to make it easy for people to get around - offer directions for how to ride The Rapid, directions on walking distances to business districts, where bike facilities are - these are things that will not only set our community apart in attracting new residents but it will also help our business owners.
The Complete Streets Committee hopes to partner with Neighborhood Businesses, The Rapid, The Parking Commission, The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition and Disability Advocates, to ensure that our stakeholders have a voice and East Hills will help represent our residents.