“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.

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5 Comments

  1. Since there are so many group rides going on in Detroit there should be plans for more bike meetup/rest areas like Harmonie Park. Also, a discussion about better security for bikes should be emphasized. So many bike friendly cities are experiencing problems with bike theft that we could be in the forefront to remedy those issues. It could include a best practice bike rack design with installed security cameras or secured bike valets along busy areas like along the Riverfront, Belle Isle, Sport Stadiums, CorkTown, etc.

    • Great points. There has been some discussion on how to improve bike parking and we’re expecting much more. Detroit has a deputy planning director starting in June that has a wealth of experience with these topics in another major U.S. city.

  2. Please make these lanes and pathways just a little wider, too. Increased bike and walker traffic necessitates wider lanes. We definitely need black for the skaters among us…big plus!

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