Open host to discuss proposed Michigan Ave protected bike lanes

Press Release from the City of Detroit (includes corrections to earlier copy):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

CONTACT: Vince Keenan, City of Detroit Department of Neighborhoods, 313-236-3523, keenanv@michigan.gov

City of Detroit to host Open House with MDOT to discuss proposal to add protected bike lanes on US-12 Michigan Avenue from Cass Avenue to Livernois

WHAT:
An open house-style meeting to gather public input from interested parties about the proposed changes to US-12 (Michigan Avenue) to add protected bike lanes to Michigan Avenue between Livernois and Cass Avenue. Michigan Avenue is a State highway and the City of Detroit is working with MDOT and community groups throughout this process.

WHEN/WHERE:
Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016
4 – 7 p.m.

UAW Local 22
4300 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48210

WHO:
City of Detroit Department of Public Works & Traffic Engineering
City of Detroit Planning and Design Department
City of Detroit Department of Neighborhoods
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)
Residents and interested stakeholders

Accommodations can be made for persons with disabilities and limited English speaking ability. Large print materials, auxiliary aids or the services of interpreters, signers, or readers available upon request. Please call 313-236-3523 to before meeting date.

BACKGROUND:
As part of ongoing predestination efforts, The City of Detroit and MDOT are proposing a pilot project to add protected bike lanes on US-12 (Michigan Avenue) from Cass Avenue to Livernois. The change would connect the Livernois bike pathway and the planned Cass Avenue bike path. Existing bike lanes adjacent to motor vehicle travel lanes would be moved inside the parking lane to allow bike riders to travel next to the curb. Areas without bike lanes would be added.

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Belle Isle Park Trail Master Plan

Belle Isle Trail Master PlanThe Michigan DNR held a public meeting on August 24th, 2016 to review a trail master plan for Belle Isle and gather input. The meeting discussed:

  • Development of a new multi-use pathway located mostly between the outer park roads and the water
  • Additional trails within the inner forest area
  • Permanently closing some mostly unused park roads on the east end of the island to motor vehicle traffic
  • Location of the Iron Belle Trail starting point

The presentation from this meeting is now available on our shared drive.

More details on this project as well as contact information is available on the DNR website.

Public meeting to help plan Belle Isle Trails System

Belle Isle on Google MapsThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting a public meeting to allow the community an opportunity for input as we develop a master plan for the Belle Isle Trail system.

DATE: Wednesday, August 24th
TIME: 6:30pm -8:30pm
LOCATION: Belle Isle State Park, Flynn Pavilion

Project Description from the DNR:

The plan is developing a 6-mile paved multi-use trail loop around the perimeter of Belle Isle Park in order to connect to existing park facilities and provide safe non-motorized recreation to all visitors on the island as well as siting of the southern trailhead for the Iron Belle Trail. The park currently includes bicycle lanes located on the park’s main perimeter road and two miles of hiking trails located in natural areas of the park. The master plan will develop a trail system through the 200 acre unique wet-mesic flatwoods on the East end of the island and identify gaps in the Belle Isle State Park’s existing trail system and locate a trailhead for the southern terminus of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail. The Iron Belle Trail is made of two statewide trails (hiking and biking routes) traveling 2,000 miles from Detroit to Ironwood several park attractions are not easily accessible to pedestrians and other non-motorized uses. The park is in need of a separate multi-use looped trail system in order to connect existing park facilities.

Uses enhanced by this project include bicycle, pedestrian, persons with disabilities, roller bladders, strollers, hikers. The trail will also provide access to natural ecosystems, wildlife observation and educational opportunities. The Master Plan will define types of trails to be developed, determine location of trails and trailheads, determine trailhead layout and site amenities, and develop standards for trail signage. Surfacing and signage will be selected to enhance the surrounding park landscape. Project documents will include estimates of probable cost and phasing plan for implementation of the improvements identified, taking into consideration the current funding climate.

This master plan is critical in developing the Belle Isle State Park as a regional trail hub, connecting the park to the region’s trail system. When combined with the additional amenities on the island, the proposed looped trail around the island with views of the Detroit River and Canada will be a one of kind experience not found anywhere else in the City of Detroit or surrounding region.

Upon Completion of the Coastal Zone Management Grant ($50,000) funded Master plan, the DNR Parks and Recreation Division will proceed with engineering drawings for the first phase of Belle Isle trail improvement that will include construction of the Iron Belle Trailhead. Construction of the Iron Belle Trailhead will be funded through grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund ($300,000) and National Recreation Trail Fund ($300,000).

Detroit’s all in for greenways and protected bike lanes

Protected bike lanesIf you watched Mayor Mike Duggan’s Keynote at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference — and you bike, walk or just love trails — you probably weren’t disappointed.

While the Mayor spoke across a wealth of topics, he did highlight existing and planned greenways and protected bike lanes as tools to “build a vibrant Detroit with opportunity for everyone.”

First, he touted the RiverWalk, Dequindre Cut, and how both are “jammed” with people walking and biking. These are competitive advantages that Detroit has which the suburbs do not. The Mayor recognizes the need to capitalize on these advantages.

Pedestrian greenwayNext he introduced the idea of a 20-minute neighborhood where every non-work trip can be made with a 20-minute bike ride or walk. That makes sense for many reasons. Cars are expensive to own and operate in the city. Providing less expensive transportation options is smart. It’s also highly desirable for those who chose not to drive. With most jobs for Detroiters located outside the city (for now), it’s not realistic to focus on bike commuting to work.

The high city-owned vacant land within these neighborhoods presents an opportunity to build residential greenways, not unlike what you currently see winding through Lafayette and Elmwood/Central Park. These would connect with protected bike lanes through commercial corridors and form a safe non-motorized network to help meet the 20-minute trip goal.

Inner Circle GreenwayAgain, these unique neighborhoods offer competitive advantages over many suburban neighborhoods where biking and walking are poor. Or as the Mayor note, you need to jump in your car and drive to the strip mall to buy a gallon of milk.

The initial three 20-minute neighborhoods are at McNichols/Livernois, West Village, and Southwest Detroit near Clark Park.

Lastly, the Mayor mentioned the Inner Circle Greenway and how it ties these 20-minute neighborhoods together and to the Dequindre Cut, RiverWalk, and more.

Below is the video of the entire presentation, though we’ve skipped forward to the portion that discusses greenways and bike lanes.

Plenty of Detroit Victories to Celebrate During National Bike Month

Originally published on the Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative web site.

Maurice Cox addresses bicycle stakeholders in 2016The city of Detroit has faced many major financial challenges after year after year of downsizing prior to its bankruptcy. Detroit simply could not provide the same level of service that other cities could. Parks were underfunded and many not maintained. Biking was often seen as a dispensable recreational activity, especially when faced with issues of crime, street lighting, blight, a declining population, and more.

But many in the community and philanthropy thought differently – and brought the city along.

Bicycling and trails were a means for economic development, inexpensive transportation, quality of life, and improved health. Through many years of working collaboratively with the city, much has been achieved. Trails such as the Conner Creek Greenway, Dequindre Cut, Detroit RiverWalk, and Southwest Detroit Greenlink were constructed. Not only did Detroiters embrace these biking options, they demanded more.

These trails along with Detroit’s flat terrain, moderate weather, lightly-traveled and overly-wide streets fostered a bicycle culture not seen in anywhere else in America: neighborhood social bike clubs that are largely African-American and embrace DIY customized bikes with music and lighting. Most of these clubs shun the stereotypical cyclist Lycra for regular clothes with club patches and more, not unlike motorcycle club colors. Each of the over thirty-some clubs have their own priorities. Some require club members to do community work often focused on getting more kids get on bicycles. Others are more about the fun and social aspects while lifting up better health.

These clubs embrace riding together, welcome diversity, and have a very low barrier to entry.

Interestingly enough, this Detroit club culture more closely mirrors that of the Golden Era of Bicycling (1890s) rather than the typical U.S. or Metro Detroit suburban club culture.

Slow Roll is another phenomenon that has helped define Detroit bicycle culture. This modest bike ride has grown from a handful of people to become one of the largest weekly bike rides in the world – and certainly one of the most diverse.

Where do we go next?

Senator Debbie Stabenow with the D-Town RidersBankruptcy has allowed Detroit to offer greater services. Detroit parks have certainly benefited from this as has the planning department.

New Planning Director Maurice Cox is rebuilding the department, hiring staff, and taking a much more active role within the city. This goes for biking too. Cox rides his bike to work every day and is a strong supporter for better and safer cycling options for all Detroiters.

The Planning Department, Public Works, consultants from other U.S. cities, the Detroit Greenways Coalition along with the clubs, Slow Roll, and others have collectively convinced the Mayor that building a healthier, more bike-able (and walkable!) city is a competitive advantage for Detroit. It can bring in greater economic development and more residents, with the latter being the Mayor’s self-prescribed metric for evaluating his job performance.

Just last month the Mayor kicked off a two-day workshop on reimagining all of East Jefferson and Grand River Avenues. He said we need to take advantage of our wide, lightly-traveled streets; make them more walkable, bike-able while improving transit. “We can’t out-suburb the suburbs,” he added but we create a great urban environment. He said Detroit could even experiment a bit as NYC did with converting street space to public plazas.

Just weeks later, the extension to the Dequindre Cut was officially opened. Again, the Mayor touted walking, biking and trails, and how they can reconnect this city. He also touted the recently submitted US DOT TIGER grant request ($18.8 million) to build over 30 miles of rail-trails and protected bike lanes as part of the Inner Circle Greenway. This grant included an emphasis on making walking and biking connections across freeways, many of which were intentionally routed through and divided communities of color.

Detroit bike culture is growing exponentially along with the demand for more. Understandably in the beginning our expectations were tempered with the city’s many challenges. Those expectations have been shattered.

In a meeting of Detroit bicycle stakeholders held earlier this year, Cox proclaimed of his tenure, “It is a stated fact that Detroit will be America’s most bike friendly city.” There wasn’t much reaction, which was likely due to incredulity rather than indifference. Is the city seriously on board with this?

Yes, it’s serious.

Detroit’s 2016 Bike to Work Day is May 20th

For Immediate Release

Contact: Todd Scott, Detroit Greenways Coalition, 313 649-7249

Detroit’s 2016 Bike to Work Day is May 20th

Henry Ford LiveWell11th annual event is expected to be the largest yet

Detroit, MI … Hundreds of Detroit-area employees and students are expected to participate in this year’s National Bike to Work Day event that promotes cycling to work and school. This year’s title sponsor is Henry Ford LiveWell, Henry Ford Health System’s virtual Wellness Center of Excellence, designed to promote and optimize the well-being of Henry Ford patients, employees, and community members.

The event begins with morning group rides starting in the suburbs and converging Downtown at the Spirit of Detroit statue. There are also two pit/end stops in Midtown. All three locations are open from 7am to 10am:

  • Spirit of Detroit on Woodward at Jefferson. Free bike parking will be provided by Wheelhouse Detroit from 7am to 6pm.
  • Old Main at Cass and Warren hosted by Wayne State University
  • New Center Park at Second and W. Grand Boulevard hosted by Henry Ford LiveWell

Through the generosity of our sponsors, there will be free snacks, coffee, vendors, local discounts and giveaways at these locations for those participating.

The event is free, but we ask that everyone register in advance to guarantee their complementary T-shirt and participant gift.  http://detroitgreenways.org/bike-to-work-day/

Detroit Bike to Work Day with Council Member Scott Benson“As a strong supporter of non-motorized transportation, I see Detroit Bike to Work Day as a way to put policy into action,” added Detroit City Council member Scott Benson. Benson helped arrange this year’s new Downtown gathering location at the Spirit of Detroit statue.

“We are so pleased to sponsor such a wonderful event like this,” says Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Senior Vice President of Community Health & Equity and Chief Wellness and Diversity Officer at Henry Ford Health System. “We believe wellness is an essential and lifelong commitment. Encouraging people to trade their car keys in for bike helmets, even for one day, is a great step toward achieving that overall wellness goal.”

Just last fall, Henry Ford and HAP announced their joint title sponsorship of Detroit’s new public bike share program, expected to debut later this year. Employees from as far away as Northville and Sterling Heights are expected to participate in Detroit’s Bike to Work Day.

Detroit Bike to Work Day event sponsors include Henry Ford LiveWell, American Cycle and Fitness, Blue Cross Blue Shield Active Blue, Café con Leche, Handlebar Detroit, KIND Bars, Miller-Canfield, Wayne State University and Wheelhouse Detroit.

The Route Map is available at http://detroitgreenways.org/bike-to-work-day/

 

A printable route sheet will be available on the web site by mid-week.

 

Photos credited to Detroit Greenways Coalition.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwQ-G4AXAw1mbGNlTm5mLTRiOGs/view?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwQ-G4AXAw1mSGt3dVRlVGRqNU0/view?usp=sharing

 

 

“Detroit will be America’s best city for bicycling”

Detroit Planning Director Maurice Cox and D-Town Riders CEO Ashia Phillips

Detroit Planning Director Maurice Cox and D-Town Riders CEO Ashia Phillips

That’s not a quote from us. It’s a quote from Maurice Cox, Planning Director for the City of Detroit. He actually said it was a stated fact and it was something he wanted to accomplish during his tenure. He said it during a meeting last week with various bicycle stakeholders.

One way this will come true is by completing the Inner Circle Greenway. We were also at another meeting earlier that day with Cox and a couple of his planners, the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Works, and others to discuss the city’s TIGER grant for the Inner Circle Greenway. The Inner Circle has become much more than 26-miles of rail-trail and bike lanes. It’s about connecting Detroit residents to jobs and schools, providing multi-modal connections, improving quality of life, and revitalizing the neighborhoods and business corridors. While the group has not agreed on the final grant language, there is consensus that we needed to put forth the best TIGER grant possible.

The next day we led a van tour of the Greater Downtown area from the Riverfront to the North End and from Eastern Market to Mexicantown. The tour included stakeholders, Cox and a few members of his planning department, and a couple consultants. We stopped at various spots throughout the area to show the different street types, e.g. wide spoke roads, wide one-way arterials, wide boulevards, and more. Detroit has a wealth of vacant land on its roads that can be converted to a protected bike lane network throughout the city — something that nearly falls within our Coalition’s vision.

The tour also stopped at some challenging intersections (e.g Gratiot/Randolph/Broadway, Trumbull, MLK, Grand River.) We also made sure to highlight the poor maintenance of the existing bike lanes. Safety and education were also discussed.

The only surprise of the tour was a quick positive update on a related project. We were told that information must remain on the van for now, but we can say that everything is on the table. Bureaucracy and status quo are no longer acceptable excuses for making bad transportation decisions in Detroit.

While the van limited how many could join in, we were very fortunate that Ashia Phillips from D-Town Riders Bike Club could participate and share some perspectives on how bike infrastructure can better support the city’s growing bike club scene. For examples, should we plan for more bike meetup/rest areas like Harmonie Park? These areas could have bike repair stations, water, bathrooms, and local businesses.

There will be followup meetings later this year with the opportunity to bring many more Detroiters and bike clubs into the discussion of how to make the city a better place for biking. This is just the beginning of a very exciting planning effort.

Our wide roads, low traffic volumes, and abandoned rail corridors give Detroit a big advantage over other cities when it comes to making better biking opportunities. With these opportunities as well as the bike clubs, rides and many other Detroit bicyclists, it getting much easier to envision being the number one city.

Inner Circle Greenway: Bridging over freeways

U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx has recently called out freeways and how they were rammed through poor neighborhoods.

That certainly happened in Detroit — and it was intentional.

According to the 1945 Detroit Expressway and Transit Plan, “Genuine, large-scale slum clearance to let in sunlight and air can be accomplished by opening up wide arteries and often can be hitched to an expressway project by going just a little out of the way at an inconsequential time loss.”

This was reflected in the expressway route recommendations:

  • Grand River Expressway (Now I-96)  “Through much of its length it would take land in substandard areas where there is acute need for the incidental improvements to the ex­pressway.”
  • Lodge Expressway (M-10)  “[It] would lay the backbone for the rehabilitation of a neighborhood that badly needs it. The alignment has been judiciously planned to fit in with the layout of the proposed Jeffries housing project.”
  • Hastings Expressway (I-75/I-375)  “[It] would pass through substandard areas… Acquisition of the right-of-way actually would constitute a slum clearance project for much of its 6.8 miles of length and construction of the expressway would invite and justify private development of wide scope along it.”

The plan also called for non-motorized improvements that were never realized.

“Walks and promenades with benches should be fitted into the landscaped slopes wherever possible. Bicycle paths could be included for some stretches at comparatively little additional expense. These features would be very popular and would make the expressways useful for Detroiters and visitors who are without automobiles.”

So, we’re excited to hear Secretary Foxx talk about righting these wrongs and we think the Inner Circle Greenway has a role. Over its 26 miles, the greenway has eight improved non-motorized freeway crossings.

One of the major connectors is in Northwest Detroit where the proposed greenway crosses the Davison entrance ramp and I-96. We’ve found DTE aerial photographs from 1967 and 1997 that show the before and after affects of I-96 in this area. By moving the center slide left and right, one can see how schools, parks, local businesses and neighborhoods were severely divided.

While we have no delusions that the Inner Circle Greenway can mitigate all of the expressways impacts on Detroit neighborhoods, it can be valuable start.

Jeffries-1967Jeffries-1997-icgw

Five most impactful Detroit bike and trail projects for 2016

With all that’s going on — not to mention Slow Roll, the expanding diverse bike club culture, Tour-de-Troit, and bike manufacturing — Detroit deserves greater national attention as a great biking and trails city.

To help prove that, we’ve made this list of major projects that are really going to make a great impact this year. These are not in any specific order.

Link Detroit: Dequindre Cut, Eastern Market, Midtown Connector

20150921_180244Yes, this was on our 2015 list, too, but it’ll officially open this spring. $20+ million projects certainly deserve being mentioned twice. While most of the construction is complete, the security boxes and cameras won’t be operational until spring. There’s also continued work happening on those private properties along the Dequindre Cut.

The bike lanes along Wilkins, Brush, Mack, and St. Aubin are complete. There’s also much new bike parking in and around Eastern Market.

A grand opening ceremony will be announced for the spring as well.

Cass Ave Bike Lanes & Midtown Loop

Cass Avenue Bike RouteThis Midtown Detroit project began last year but will finish this year. The bike lanes start at W. Grand Boulevard and continue south to Lafayette. The route gets sharrows and proceeds a east one block to Washington before continuing south Cobo Center. Here,  the route transitions to an an off-road path heading east along the south side of Jefferson to Bates Street, which connects to the RiverWalk.

When you’re going downhill (and fast) on Bates, you get sharrows on the road. When going uphill (and slower), you’ll have a protected bike lane.

This project also includes:

  • The final section of the Midtown Loop streetscaping between Kirby and Canfield
  • Three public bike repair stations
  • Multiple in-ground, automated bike counters with two kiosks displaying real-time counts

This project was largely funded by MDOT to help make Cass a more desireable bike corridor than Woodward since the M1 Rails are causing safety issues with bicyclists’ tires.

While not part of this project, the underpass at Cass is now a public art display.

We’ve also been working with City Council and Olympia Development to upgrade a portion of these bike lanes as part of the new hockey arena construction. And in the long term, we hope to extend this Cass Avenue bike route to the Detroit Zoo using both Second and Woodward Avenues.

Automated counters

Mobile bike counter on Cass AvenueWe know more people are biking and walking but we don’t have numbers. That’s about to change as automated counters start operating 24/7 on Cass with real-time data uplinks. The Dequindre Cut extension is also getting three counters which will tally bicycles as well as pedestrians. While this data won’t tell us the total number of people on bikes or foot, it will show trends.

The Detroit Greenways Coalition will also be using our mobile bike counters again this year. In 2015 we took counts on Cass Avenue and E. Jefferson before any bike lanes were installed. We want to have before and after counts so we can measure the impacts these projects are having — and justify continued non-motorized investment.

Public Bike Share and Street improvements

The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) is still hopeful about launching this year. The anticipated footprint is from Clark Park to Belle Isle, and from the River to W. Grand Boulevard. Phase I calls for 35 stations and 350 bikes. The great news is Henry Ford Health System/Health Alliance Plan have signed on as the title sponsor. We’ve been working with the DDP and others to insure this bike share access is inclusive and serves a diverse audience.

With all these new bikes will increase demand for more bike lanes in the Downtown and the DDP is working to address that through road diets and one-to-two way conversions in the near future.

Livernois Bike Lanes

The City of Detroit installing bike lanes on four miles of Livernois from Grand River to W. Vernor. Eventually we expect to continue this route to Historic Fort Wayne and the Detroit River as part of the Gordie Howe Bridge U.S. Plaza project.

Detroit Planning Director Maurice Cox has also announced intentions for pop-up (i.e. short-term prototype) bike lanes on Livernois in the Avenue of Fashion between McNichols and Eight Mile. There’s not enough width between the outside curbs for four vehicle travel lanes, two parking lanes, and bike lanes. Would the street work with two vehicle lanes? This is one way to find out and it’s a technique that could be applied on other roads.

Having better biking facilities on this portion of Livernois would be very welcomed as they could connect with Ferndale’s bike lanes (and their downtown) to the north and the river/Fort Wayne/Canada via the Gordie Howe Bridge to the south.

Honorable Mentions

Some of these projects are super exciting as well. Some are not yet ripe and we can’t provide specific details yet but we wanted to note that they’re moving forward.

  • 20151105_173047E. Jefferson Protected Bike Lanes — Jefferson East got the city’s first protected bike lanes installed last year just west of Alter Road. The city’s plan is to extend that same design all the way to E. Grand Boulevard/Belle Isle. The timing and scope of this project is not clear. When complete, this will be one of the longest protected bike lane projects in the U.S.
  • RiverWalk section — A new section of East RiverWalk is under construction between Jos Campau and East Chene Park. It’ll also include a bridge over an old boat slip.
  • Inner Circle Greenway — The $10 million TIGER grant was not funded last year which would have built about six  miles of the Inner Circle Greenway. We now developing a revised funding plan, which may include another TIGER grant request. In the meantime, the rail corridor land acquisition is progressing.
  • Beltline Greenway — We helped get significant Iron Belle Trail funding to acquire land for the proposed Beltline Greenway from the RiverWalk (at Mt. Elliott Park) to Gleaner’s Food Bank. Progress is being made in a collaborative effort with the DNR, city of Detroit, DECC, and the Coalition.
  • Elmwood Greenway — We partnered with Elmwood Cemetery on a grant request to further plan an off road trail from Gleaners/the Beltline Greenway to the Dequindre Cut near Gratiot. We expect the greenway would connect into the historic cemetery as well.
  • International Greenway Vision Map — We are working with a large number of parties on both sides of the Detroit River produce a map that highlights the greenways and bike routes adjacent to our international border. We want to show the value in building connections between the U.S. and Canada so bicyclists can enjoys both countries without needing a car. That could mean ferry service between downtown Detroit and Windsor, as well as bike lanes on the Gordie Howe Bridge.
  • Open Streets — We’ve been working with the DDP, DTE, City of Detroit, Wayne State, and others to bring one or two Open Streets events to Detroit in 2016.
  • Indoor Velodrome — There’s nothing official to report yet, but the project is moving forward.

 

Among many things, Ron Scott was a bike advocate

Ron Scott talks about bikes in DetroitI met Ron Scott on the stairsteps of the old Detroit Police Department (DPD) headquarters on Beaubien in 2008. I didn’t know much about him except that he was interested in helping organize a bicycle ride against the police department’s suddenly announced enforcement of mandatory bicycle registration ordinances.

Along with fellow advocate Tawanna Simpson, we organized a bike protest ride while simultaneously working to make the bike registration ordinances voluntary.

From my limited policy perspective as the MTGA Detroit Greenways Coordinator, the ordinances were archaic and and burdensome. For Ron, it wasn’t a coincidence that DPD starting enforcing the ordinances. It was a tool for targeting certain types of people who happened to be on bikes. Unlicensed bikes were an easy way to write $75 tickets. This was an issue of fairness and equity.

Along the way, Ron bought a bike and was rapidly absorbed in the fun and health aspects of bicycling. He spoke of bicycling’s ability to build inclusive community, perhaps foretelling Slow Roll. He certainly brought a more broad perspective to the discussion.

At the Detroit City Council hearing on the registration ordinances, I was taken aback by the respect and admiration each council member gave Ron as they entered the room. Still not knowing his past, it gave me a great deal of confidence. Council called Ron and I to the table where he spoke elegantly and introduced the need to remove the city’s unnecessary bicycling restrictions. He then introduced me as his brother, which elicited some chuckles. While we’re both Scotts, we don’t look much like siblings. I proceeded to outline the specifics of why mandatory licensing didn’t make sense from a policy perspective.

Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-CummingsMore people spoke against the ordinances with only DPD speaking in support of them. City council not only moved to make the mandatory bicycle registrations voluntary, they thanked us for bringing this issue before them. Our protest bike ride was then turned into a bike ride celebration that even saw the Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings riding with us.

Seizing on this political momentum, we decided to bring the Department of Public Work’s non-motorized master plan before council for their approval. Council passed it unanimously before we could finish our presentation. More success!

In the end, DPD gave us a gift that not only led to Ron’s involvement, it fostered a relationship with Council that made Detroit more bike- and trail-friendly. Our positive relationship with Council continues to this day.

Belle Isle State Park

Another issue dear to Ron was the lease of Belle Isle to the State of Michigan. With that lease came an increased state enforcement that made many long time park users feel unwelcomed. This included many Detroit’s bike clubs that no longer felt comfortable holding their events on the island.

We worked with Ron and the bike club presidents to have DNR State Parks Director Ron Olson and the DNR Chief of Southern Field Operations Scott Pratt ride together for the 2014 fireworks. It was an opportunity to make introductions and an initial attempt at changing conditions and perceptions.

The following month, Ron and I spoke before the Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee. Per the meeting minutes:

Scott Pratt, Ron Scott, Ron OlsonRon Scott, applauds the state for what they have accomplished so far with Belle Isle and the increase in Recreation Passport sales just in the Detroit area. However, he encouraged the DNR Parks and Recreation Division to reach out to other stakeholders in the City (i.e. businesses, organizations, the districts, and the general public) and the surrounding areas. For whatever reason, some groups or individuals have not felt comfortable or welcome on the island. He feels that if the department were to reach out to these groups (i.e. have public meetings, discussion or interaction), regarding what would encourage them to visit and enjoy the island, it would not only benefit the island with increased revenue, but it would also help the city and local businesses. He also recommended reaching out to surrounding communities to encourage interest in Belle Isle and point out what it has to offer on a more localized level. Organizations like the Detroit Greenways Coalition, the state, and others would benefit by meeting, having these discussions and figuring out ways to attract more visitors to the area. He also reminded the committee that the state needs to be sensitive to the way enforcement is handled on the island.

 At an event just last month Ron reiterated the need to resolve this issue. We’re still working on it.

Certainly Ron contributed much more to Detroit than bicycling advocacy. Others will write much more about that. I just feel so fortunate that our causes overlapped, to have worked with him and be inspired by him, and to be called his brother.

Thank you, Ron.

On November 30th, 2015, Ron Scott passed after a battle with cancer at age 68. 

[More about Ron Scott]