EAST LANSING, Mich. — City residents advocated for change in regard to neighborhood speeding concerns at the Transportation Commission Meeting on Nov. 6.
Public comments to the commission calling for better traffic regulation come less than 24 hours after a fatal hit-and-run near Michigan State University’s campus. While a suspect was arrested in connection to the crash, which killed a 20-year-old Oxford man, it is just one of many road safety concerns, according to the city residents. The residents’ focus? The children.
Molly Szpunar, an attorney and mother of two East Lansing School District students, served as a representative for Citizens Engaged for Livable Locations (CELL). Szpunar spoke to the Transportation Commission about her concerns regarding speeding around all schools in the area.
“I don’t feel comfortable sending my kids across Harrison [Road on their way to school],” Szpunar said, adding, “I have seen our crossing guard throw herself in front of cars.”
Szpunar said the commission should discuss traffic-calming measures. She suggested medians or speed bumps as solutions to encourage safer driving.
Another East Lansing resident, Jean Schultz, is also concerned about children’s safety. She is a retired principal’s assistant in Haslett, and although her children are grown, Schultz said she watches the traffic on Wildwood Street, where she lives, and worries for the approximately 20 children living in her neighborhood.
“We want East Lansing to be a family-friendly town, and we want to encourage families with children to move to it. It helps the schools. It helps the city. We just need to have a safe place for our children to grow up,” Schultz said in her statement to commissioners.
Szpunar and Schultz explained after the meeting that the commissioners did not require much convincing on the subject, as all eight members agreed there was an issue.
Commissioner Perry Kleinheitz explained the importance of gathering concrete data to support the residents’ claims, but community involvement is also an important factor in making these changes. Since the issue is connected to specific neighborhoods, Kleinheitz said those residents need to be actively involved and share their experiences so solutions can be created.
Commissioner Nathan Werner said, “Our neighbors are coming to us saying they have problems with speeding, so we have a responsibility to help out.”
Commissioner Mitchell Moore said he hopes federal funding is able to contribute to the development of a solution.
While the residents’ comments focused on specific areas, the Transportation Commission’s Chair Julie Rojewski said the commission is hearing from most neighborhoods about speeding concerns, and she proposed that the city create something more targeted toward the issue of speeding.
Rojewski said, “I think we’re all in agreement that this is a widespread enough problem and we are hearing about it regularly. Something should be done sooner than later.”
The Commission unanimously agreed to collect data about vehicle speeds and revisit the issue in a couple of months. They agreed that through data collection, more informed decisions could be made.