Despite how many students complain about walking long distances to class, it turns out East Lansing is one of the most walkable cities in the nation.
According to a report from the U.S. census, East Lansing was the country’s 8th most walkable small city with a population of 20,000 to 99,999 people from 2008 to 2012 — and the 7th best for cyclists.
The SpareFoot Blog also recently ranked East Lansing as the 8th most walkable college town.
Darcy Schmitt, a planning and zoning administrator for the city of East Lansing, said she credited the extensive downtown area with making the city so walkable.
“The fact that we have a great downtown on the edge of Michigan State University makes it very walkable,” she said.
Tim Dempsey, East Lansing’s director of planning, building and development, told the Lansing State Journal that one of the reasons the city is so walkable is Grand River Avenue’s grassy median, which allows pedestrians to cross the street with ease.
Grand River Avenue’s construction last year between Collingwood and Brookfield Roads restructured pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks, Dempsey told the Lansing State Journal.
“All of our development projects are required to put sidewalks in. Along main streets they have to be 8 feet wide, and along other streets they have to be 4 feet,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt said East Lansing has taken many steps to make it friendly to walkers and cyclists.
“There’s pretty extensive greenway, trailway (and) bike path that runs all the way through the Northern Tier (Trail),” she said.
The city also approved the Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, which will further improve bicycle and walking paths.
"(The plan) looks at the city extensively for bicycle connections and street crossing signage,” Schmitt said. “Most communities do not have this.”