Welcome to SEMCOG's Think Regional/Act Local blog! SEMCOG is the only organization in Southeast Michigan that brings together all governments to solve regional challenges and enhance the quality of life for the seven-county regions 4.7 million residents. With this regional perspective in mind, we work with member local governments to sustain our regions reputation as a great place to work, play, and do business.


Our panel of SEMCOG staff bloggers will post daily to this blog, discussing SEMCOG's data, federal and state legislative issues, and environmental and fiscal sustainability best practices for local governments all with the goal of creating a successful future for the region.



Think Regional/Act Local

Motorcycle safety?

(Data, Legislation, Transportation) Permanent link

Last week, Michigan became the 31st state to give motorcyclists the option of wearing a helmet under legislation signed by Governor Snyder. The new law lets motorcyclists choose whether to wear a helmet if they are at least 21 years old, carry additional insurance, and have passed a motorcycle safety course or have had their motorcycle endorsement for at least two years. Additionally, motorcycle passengers who want to exercise this option must also be 21 or older and carry additional insurance.


The safety community has registered disappointment in this action and rightfully so in my opinion. Why? Well, the data suggests that this action will increase the number of deaths on our roadways and increase our auto insurance costs. I believe that the safety community will be carefully keeping records of this over the coming year to see just what the impact of the law will be.


While I was hoping the governor would veto the legislation, he didn’t. I hope the impacts, if any, will be small. SEMCOG’s role in safety planning is to monitor the data, inform the public, and work with partner agencies to make the region safer. Research shows that per vehicle mile traveled, the death rate for motorcyclists is nearly 40 times greater than for passenger car occupants. In 2010, crashes involving a motorcycle were the lowest of the previous five years – a total of 1,176, or just one percent of all crashes. However, 90 percent of those crashes resulted in injuries


Given those stats, the new legislation seems counter to other recent legislation that stresses safety. The state just made using seat belts a primary enforcement issue a few years ago. Why? To make driving safer. The state also just passed legislation on texting while driving and discouraging cell phone use while driving. Why? To make driving safer.


I am very careful around motorcyclists and I can only imagine how much more nervous and careful I will be the first time a helmetless cyclist pulls up next to me. Please be careful. SEMCOG will continue to monitor the data and we’ll let you know if the helmet legislation has a positive or negative impact on traffic crashes in the region.


Carmine Palombo
If you want to know what about anything related to transportation in Southeast Michigan, don’t miss Carmine Palombo's blog. Carmine has more than 30 years of experience in various phases of transportation planning at SEMCOG. He is responsible for administering SEMCOG’s transportation planning program, which includes the region’s long-range transportation plan and short-term transportation plan.

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“Less” doesn’t have to be “a bore”

(Census, Data, Regionalism, Right-sizing) Permanent link


Prominent modernist architect Mies van der Rohe used “Less is more” as a precept for minimalist design. Decades later, Robert Venturi, another architect, coined the maxim, "Less is a bore," a postmodern antidote to van der Rohe's famous "Less is more" modernist dictum. Although some architects tend to be extreme, we can learn some lessons here for our region’s long-term outlook.




We are not forecasting fast growth in our region. In fact, we anticipate a continuing loss of population in the next 10 years before rebounding around 2022. And the rebounding will be slow and modest. We’ll have 100,000 fewer people in 2040 than we had in 2000. “Less” is certainly relevant in regard to our region’s population trend. But “less” doesn’t have to be bad or “a bore.” We are dealing with a different set of issues than the fast growing regions. A friend from San Diego, California, once said to me, “Can we give a million people to you, so we don’t have to make room for them?” We can generate excitement by making the region better without having to deal with growth pressures on resources and infrastructures.


We  can be successful despite population loss. There are successful examples in recent history. The Pittsburgh region continues losing population many years after the collapse of the steel industry. But the transformation of its economy has made the region more prosperous, as demonstrated by a faster-than-U.S. -average growth rate of per capita income.  Southeast Michigan is strategically placed for international trade, we have beautiful natural resources second to none, and we still have a significant population of hard-working talented people. We have a bright future ahead of us – don’t buy into “less is a bore.”


Xuan Liu
Interested in knowing how SEMCOG’s data impacts local governments and residents in Southeast Michigan? Then, you’ll want to read Xuan’s weekly posts.

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