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.


5 replies on “Five most impactful Detroit bike and trail projects for 2016”

All these bicycle connections sound great. The Iron Belle Trail and the International Greenway Vision really stimulates the imagination of future bicycling possibilities.

Interesting, the bike lanes completed on Jefferson near Alter are great. Some of the business owners are not adhering to the change, specifically on the East side of Jefferson near Alter. How will this be addressed because it’s not fair to the biking community.

Jefferson East Inc is the lead on this project and they are aware of this. They’ve been working with local businesses on the parking issue and more. We’re helping them resolve issues with the Detroit Police Department so they can enforce the ordinance against parking in the bike lane.

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