Birmingham Multi-Modal Transportation Board

Community: Birmingham, Michigan
Population: 10,000+

American cities have seen many forms of transit throughout their histories. Horses, the omnibus, trolleys, automobiles, and bicycles have all played a major role, some more than others. The purpose of the Birmingham Multi-Modal Transportation Board is maintaining the safe and efficient movement of all motorized AND non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians on the streets and walkways within the city, and to advise the City Commission on the implementation of the Birmingham Multi-Modal Transportation Plan. This unique board consists of ex officio members and seven community members appointed by the City Manager. Insofar as possible, the City Commission shall appoint members as follows: one pedestrian advocate member; one member with a mobility or vision impairment; one member with traffic-focused education and/or experience; one bicycle advocate member; one member with urban planning, architecture or design education and/or experience; and two members at large from different geographical areas of the city.


The replicability of the Birmingham Multi-Modal Transportation Board (MMTB) is obtainable through concise language and clear goals. The goals of the MMTB are all bundled up into a clear and thorough plan which includes a descriptive overall network map, but also smaller target projects. This forward-thinking and progressive volunteer citizen advisory board already has a major draw in present day American cities because of the platform afforded to cities passionate residents who need a forum for their voices to be heard. Multi-Modal infrastructure is a hot topic, and communities are catching fire. Volunteer citizen advisory boards such as this guide the focus of a larger legislative body when forming public policy, are more technically sound and can build consensus before an issue is sent to decision makers. Creating a Multi-modal Transportation Plan, and subsequently the unique Multi-Modal Transportation Board, can really get the community talking and involved. Residents in Birmingham offered input right out of the gate through a resident survey that directed goals and objectives of the plan, public visioning workshop with exercises and information session, and preliminary plan open house where participants provided feedback and constructive analyses.

Creativity and Originality:

The Birmingham Multi-Modal Transportation Board (MMTB) is a one of a kind effort to garner community engagement for the betterment of transportation in the City. Created in 2014, the board creatively included a wide array of community members with experiences that differ greatly from each other to represent the diversity of Birmingham residents. This type of community engagement is a new and inclusive way of applying an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude to cities that want to offer more to their community. The City of Birmingham decided to tailor its Multi-Modal Transportation Plan (MMTP) toward pedestrian infrastructure, constituting about 90 percent of improvement costs…quite the dedication. The MMTP is very specific in its recommendations by design, perhaps more so than most other master plans. The plan’s specificity is a response to the demands of transportation planning within an existing, constricted environment. It presents a realistic picture of what is currently feasible within the confines of the existing roadway and public rights-of-way. Every new transportation related development, from road reconstruction projects to parking policies, is now reviewed by the MMTB to ensure “a walkable community;” the cities brand.

Community Impact:

The Birmingham Multi-Modal Transportation Board (MMTB) has started a new conversation. Citizens across the City come to meetings, start petitions, participate in planning and rally their neighbors in support of [and sometimes against] the Multi-Modal agenda of the City. Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists of all ages and abilities are part of a safer and more complementary environment in the City of Birmingham. Our streets are more attractive, our citizens more involved, and our City thoroughfares are safer. The approach of the MMTB reaches those outcomes through emphasis on public policies, the physical environment, community programs, and quality of life outcomes. Transportation projects are no longer viewed from an engineering only perspective. The ability of the city planning department (and now the MMTB) to guide decision makers towards progressive goals has made all the difference in our community.

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