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Friends of the Joe Louis Greenway Greenways Newsletter Policy

News from the Trail – May 2022

Link to our May 2022 newsletter

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Complete Streets Greenways Newsletter

News from the Trail — December 2020

Giving Tuesday

Two Ways to Give

We have a fundraiser on Facebook. Facebook is matching the first $7 million in all donations starting on #GivingTuesday at 8 AM.

If you prefer, you can setup your own Facebook fundraiser with the Detroit Greenways Coalition as the beneficially.

We also have a donation page on our website with payments handled securely through PayPal. There’s the option for regular monthly or annual donations as well.

There is no better time to make Detroit a more walkable and more bikeable city. We’ve seen COVID-19 affect our family, friends, and communities. We’ve been unable to do many things we enjoy doing while experiencing the added stress of social distancing.

As a result, many of us have been spending more time outside, at the parks and trails, on our bikes, in our kayaks, running, or walking. It’s helping keep us physically, mentally, and socially healthy, while strenghening our resistance to potential illness. For many it’s also providing an alternative safe travel option with good social distancing.

Others are discovering these outdoor options as well. We’ve seen trail usage increase by over 40% on the Dequindre Cut this year. We’ve also see a growing momentum to make Detroit a more convenient, safe, and fun place to walk and bike — a place with more trails, more Complete Streets (e.g. better sidewalks, bike lanes, speed humps), and more greenspace.

Your donation will help keep pushing this vision forward, not only for us, but for many who will benefit from a safer and healthier city yet are unable to contribute. Your support will enable us to continue our advocacy and technical assistance citywide as we have since 2007.

There an added incentive for donating this year. Under the CARES Act, individual taxpayers can deduct up to $300 in cash donations — even when taking the standard deduction.

We appreciate any and all support.

Stay Healthy,


Todd Scott, Executive Director


Michigan Avenue Improvements

Debris-covered Michigan Avenue bike lanes and sidewalk near the LodgeThere is an opportunity for major improvements to Michigan Avenue’s design through Corktown so mark your calendar for Tuesday, December 2nd at 6pm. MDOT is hosting a virtual public meeting to collect your input. (Meeting details) They need your input!

We’ve come quite a ways from ten years ago when we first asked MDOT to add regular bike lanes to this state trunkline. It was met with a great deal of resistance from both legal and engineering standpoints. We continued to push, find answers to the issues, and was eventually successful. Later those became protected bike lanes.

Now we can push this design forward into something much better, e.g. raised or sidewalk-level bike lanes with curb protection, protected intersections, wider sidewalks, and green stormwater infrastructure. One priority we already shared with MDOT is the need for a maintenance plan. We want a great design that’s also free of debris.

This isn’t just a planning exercise. $20 million in construction funding has been allocated for 2022.

Happening in parallel is the MDOT Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) Corridor project along Michigan Avenue and I-94 between Detroit and Ann Arbor. They are looking to design “an innovative infrastructure solution that allows for a mix of connected and autonomous vehicles, traditional transit vehicles, shared mobility, and freight and personal vehicles.” We’re on the project’s stakeholder group and really want to ensure that shiny new transportation concepts don’t interfere with the tried-and-true mobility provided by biking and walking. We’re optimistic given that Mark de la Vergne, Detroit’s former Cheif of Mobility Innovation is now leading this project for the contractor, Cavanue.

Of course Ford’s Michigan Central project is along this section of Michigan Avenue. They recently held a public meeting to share more of their vision for the former train station, surrounding campus, and May Creek Greenway. There’s additional information in this Detroit News article, Ford unveils Michigan Central site plan for Corktown.Rendering of the future Michigan Central Station by Ford


Belle Isle Improvements

Central Avenue on Belle IsleThe good news? The Strand pavement near the Coast Guard station has been replaced. The bad news? The last we checked, some sections of the bike lane are in really poor condition here. Still, you should be able to get around them.

Other updates include the reconfiguration of Central Avenue on the eastern portion of the island. It’s now marked for eastbound vehicle travel only with a two-way shared-use pathway. We would have preferred seeing vehicles prohibited altogether from this roadway, but this is an improvement — and the surface has been repaved.

Phase 1 of the new Iron Belle Trail is also under construction from the beach to the Boat Club. This will be a much welcomed trail for all but the faster, fitness-oriented bicyclists who will prefer staying on the road. The DNR also recommended $1.35 million in Land Water and Conservation Funds (LWCF) to build Phase 2 of this trail which will eventually extend this trail around the island.

We are continuing to advocate for safer bike lane designs on the island, but especially for the MacArthur Bridge. Unfortunately we do not have any updates at this time.


Other Updates

  • Ford Hunger March monumentThe grand opening of the new Fort Street Bridge Park was at the end of October. This park gives recognition to the Ford Hunger March of 1932 with a monument constructed from parts of the original historic bridge. There are additional bridge parts remaining and we’re trying to see if they can be used for a gateway monument to welcome bicyclists and pedestrians entering Detroit via the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
  • We were glad to provide some modest assistance to Council Scott Benson, Greenway Guy Tim Springer, Henry Ford Health System, and others with their Bikes 4 Essential Workers program. It was a great success despite the lack availability of new bikes.
  • The City of Ferndale has a public meeting on December 9th at 6:30pm to review a draft of their updated mobility plan. This is a great opportunity to discuss how to make it easier when biking and walking between Detroit and Ferndale.
  • There’s still time to get involved in the City of Detroit’s Streets for People planning project as well as take an online survey for the Parks and Rec Plan update. Both are very important planning efforts.
  • Detroiter Kristin Shaw is writing a book on women in the mobility/transportation space and she’s looking for nominations of stories to tell — or perhaps your story. Entries are open until the end of the year at www.womendrivenmobility.com.
  • Lastly, Free Bikes 4 Kids Detroit continues to look for volunteers to help them clean, prep, and giveaway kids bikes this year. Their volunteer signup is online.

Additional Reading

Huron-Clinton Metroparks to establish Detroit presence through agreement with Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Crain’s Detroit Business.

Drivers let their focus slip as they get used to partial automation, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Piloting wayfinding to connect community to resource centers in Detroit, Smart Growth America.

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Newsletter

News from the Trail – September 2020

Detroit Bike Tours

Last month we helped support Council members Scott Benson and Roy McCalister Jr. as they hosted three casual bike tours. The purpose of the rides was “to demonstrate to council members, other elected officials, and the city’s, and region’s transportation decision makers how bicycle lanes keep Detroiters safe.” These tours were also an opportunity to talk about traffic calming in the neighborhoods and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). 

The rides began in Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion on Livernois, traveled north through Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and back to Detroit. A highlight was having Ferndale Mayor Melanie Piana talk about how the bike lanes have helped attract new business to Livernois while providing a safe family-friendly travel option for residents to get those businesses. 

Other highlights:

  • The Alliance for the Great Lakes held a well-attended pre-tour event to discuss the new Livernois GSI and how stormwater will be managed in the bioswales. 
  • Representatives from Wayne County attended one of the tours and there was a initial discussion on improving Wayne County Roads for biking in Detroit, specifically E. Outer Drive. We are now looking at grant to help move this project forward.

More information on these tours (and more photos) are on our website and on Fox 2 Detroit.


Connecting the Rouge

Speaking of Wayne County, they are also working to extend the Rouge River Gateway Greenway. That trail currently connects Hines Drive to Michigan Avenue (near Andiamo’s). The long term plan is to extend that trail to the Detroit River. A new trail segment behind Greenfield Village is being designed now. 

How can you get involved? They have a short survey online to collect input on your trail use. There’s also a virtual community meeting planned for September 16th at 6pm. Information on how to join the meeting will be posted on the website prior to the 16th.

Meanwhile over in Rouge Park, the City of Detroit has added a two-way cycletrack along Spinozza Drive. They’ve also created this video to explain how it works. The design is very similar to the cycletrack in Palmer Park — which has apparently reduced speeding traffic. Vehicles used to regularly crash into the lightposts along this stretch of road, but none have done so since the cycletrack was installed. 

Also along the Rouge River, trail design work is underway at Rogell Park. The first community meeting is scheduled for September 23rd at 6:30pm. Watch for more forthcoming details on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.


Breaking News

All three of these issues are ongoing. This is what we know currently, so stay tuned for future updates.

  • Bike lane removals — Bike lanes on E. Grand Boulevard were removed during a recent repaving. After some research, we learned the city had a new policy of removing non-separated bike lanes when roads were repaved. This makes no sense to us as it makes roads less safe for all users to no ones benefit. Also, there was no community engagement on this in advance.  We’ve asked the Department of Public Works to rescind this policy. Council member Benson has also gotten involved.
  • Speed limit legislation — State Representative Bradley Slagh (R-Zeeland/Holland) is sponsoring a bill (HB 4733) that would clarify the flexibility in setting speed limits. Rather than strictly set speed limits based on the 85th fasted motorist under ideal road conditions, road agencies could use best engineering/safety practices and take into account road design, land use (e.g. nearby parks), pedestrian and bicyclist activity, crash history, etc. Without this flexibility, many main roads in Detroit could see higher speed limits due to the prevalence of speeding. The original bill removed that flexibility on state and county roads. We opposed that and have proposed alternative language. 
  • I-375 replacement delayed — MDOT asked SEMCOG to pull construction funding from the I-375 Alternatives project and delay it to 2027. We oppose this delay as does the City of Detroit, who is having an ongoing discussion with the state on keeping this project moving forward as planned. It appears to us that the Michigan Avenue (in Corktown) reconstruction funding has jumped ahead of I-375. 

Other Updates

  • Last month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved $28 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grants. This included $2.7 million for the May Creek Greenway, $300,000 for a portion of a new 6-mile trail on Belle Isle, and $300,000 for a Perrien Park renovation (at Chene and E. Warren). 
  • We are also a member of the Vote Yes for MI Water, Wildlife & Parks Coalition. Together we are supporting a November ballot proposal that ensures continued grant funding from the MNRTF and strikes a better balance between funding development and acquisition projects. Currently 75% of the grant funding is only for land acquisition (which Detroit typically doesn’t need to do.) If the proposal passes, a minimum of 25% would go towards acquisition and a minimum of 25% for development. 
  • We are also a supporting organization for the national Greenway Stimulus campaign, a call for a $10 billion federal infrastructure investment in regional trails and greenways to spur strong economic recovery and a healthy, equitable future.
  • The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law last month, providing $900 million in permanent and dedicated annual funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and funding to address the backlog of maintenance projects in our national parks and public lands. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy says, this bill is “considered by many to be the most impactful legislation for parks and the outdoors in decades.” The City of Detroit has a long history of using LWCF grant funding to improve its parks.
  • Speaking of grants, the City of Detroit received a Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery grant from NACTO. This grant is to help “temporarily close streets near neighborhood schools and parks in Springwells, Warrendale, and northwest Detroit to create outdoor community hubs for young people and other residents. These partners will each program their own spaces tailored to the needs of the specific community where they are based, focusing on creating outdoor learning space, providing childcare, hosting enrichment activities, and creating street art.”
  • A new warehouse could replace the former Cadillac Stamping Plant along the Conner Creek Greenway/Iron Belle Trail, just south of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport. We’re involved because we don’t want truck traffic negatively impacting the trail. We also see this as an opportunity to replace an unused parking lot (circled in red) along the greenway with GSI and green buffering. While greenways are often viewed from a recreational standpoint, this trail could be a great option for local employees who chose to bike or walk to work.
  • The City of Detroit’s Joseph Campau resurfacing project includes a two-way cycletrack as part of the Joe Louis Greenway. It originally ran from the City of Hamtramck to the Davison Freeway, but that’s now been extended to McNichols. This project should be completed this year.

Additional Reading & Listening

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Complete Streets Greenways Newsletter Policy

News from the Trail – February 2018

The trails and biking momentum from 2017 has continued into 2018…

Belle Isle Strategic Plan

If you haven’t already heard, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is updating the 10-year strategic master plan for Belle Isle. This plan will shape how the park is operated and developed for years to come. There are two public meetings today, February 1st from 2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 8pm at the Outdoor Adventure Center. At these meetings the DNR will present on the draft plan and give take your comments.

If you are unable to attend, the draft plan is online and comments can be submitted until February 12th.

Quick Updates

  • The Detroit Water and Sewage Department is looking to green up the medians on Oakman Boulevard while also adding stormwater management features. They’ve having  a public meeting about this project this Saturday, February 3rd from 10:30am to noon at the Detroit Police Department 2nd Precint (13530 Lesure Street). What they’re doing here could be a model for greening up other popular biking routes and greenways around Detroit. More details
  • The Michigan Trails Summit is February 6th. The last we heard, the event was very close to selling out. Whether you’re in the event or not, feel free to join us that morning at 6:30am for a casual 3K run from the Marriott Motor Lobby at the Renaissance Center.
  • The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy West Riverfront Park design competition is heating up. The four teams will be making their pitches on February 8th. You can register for that online. Afterwards, their display boards and models will be on display at West Riverfront Park Public Exhibition at 1001 Woodward from February 10 – February 22, with daily hours from 11am until 8pm.
  • Our Joe Louis Greenway map is in final draft form. We expect to have it completed and printed before too long.
  • Our Hamilton Avenue bike lane design project is over half complete. We will then continue to work with Highland Park to get grant funding for construction.
  • We’re working with the Detroit Fitness Foundation for a fundraising event at the new Lexus Velodrome. We hope to have a date in the coming weeks, but it’s looking like March.
  • We were approved by the Michigan State Police get bicyclist and pedestrian crash data and analyze what affects the city’s new public lighting improvements are having. (Hint: it’s positive.)
  • We caught a legislative typo that inadvertently made all local bicycle ordinances enforceable in Michigan without posted signs. Yes, you can now get ticketed for riding in Hamtramck without a bicycle registration or for riding in Highland Park without a bell. We’re working with State Representative Stephanie Chang to get this corrected.
  • Lastly we’re working with multiple parties on greenway along the Rouge River from Hines Drive to Eight Mile. Yes, that’s getting serious!

Special shout out to volunteers Paul Vial and Mark Hall who have been a big help tackling these projects and moving us forward!

Categories
Complete Streets Greenways Newsletter

News from the Trail – July 2017

Summer’s rolling by fast and so are the updates…

Inner Circle Greenway

This 26-mile trail around the city continues to move forward. After many years of discussion and negotiation, the city of Detroit has agreed to terms for the purchase of 7.5 miles of abandoned Conrail railroad property. They will be able to use $4.3 million in grant funding that we helped them get.

The city also got a $2 million dollar grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation which will be used to develop a framework plan and construction documents. Expect there to be meetings later this year as the framework plan is developed. The city has announced that the trail would be completed by 2019.

We’re also lending our support to add 1.75 miles to one of the most popular trails in Detroit and Michigan. Expect to hear more about that in future updates.

Gordie Howe International Bridge

We’ve already mentioned that the new bridge will accomodate both bike and pedestrians, but the good news doesn’t stop there. As part of the community benefits agreement, the Delrayt area around the Detroit bridge plaza will receive millions in street improvements and new trails. E. Jefferson and Fort Street will get protected bike lanes. Campbell and Green Streets will have greenways. The key non-motorized connection at Junction over I-75 will also be improved.

There’s potentially more good news coming that could come our way.

Additional Updates

  • The DNR received a $750,000 grant to help build a 6-mile shared-use path around Belle Isle. This might help get some pedestrians out of the bike lanes and reduce conflicts. MDOT is repaving the MacArthur Bridge and we’ve asked them to widen and improve the bike lanes while they’re at it.
  • The Detroit RIverfront Conservancy received $50,000 in grant funding for Atwater Beach just east of Chene Park. If they can successfully raise the additional funding, they will break ground next spring.
  • The Detroit Planning and Development Department now has a Transportation and Mobility office with Lead Planner Caitlin Malloy-Marcon. We now have another supporter in the city.
  • Wayne State University is hiring a student for a part-time position as Transportation Ambassador. More information
  • SEMCOG wants your feedback on regional transportation issues in Southeast Michigan. Their on-line survey doesn’t take all that long.

Upcoming Events

Handlebars for the Homeless
Sunday, August 6th

Early registration discount through July 28th
Event Registration

DLECTRICITY
Saturday, September 23rd
This fun, free 4-mile night ride is back! There are prizes for the best bike light displays
Event Details &  Registration

Bike Trails and Cocktails
September TBD
Our fundraising event returns. More details to follow

We rely on donations from people like you to help continue this work. We now have a monthly giving option if that is a more convenient way to contribute. Thanks!

Have you seen the new Cass Avenue bike lanes being installed? We advocated for these as an alternative to the less safe riding conditions along Woodward due to the streetcar rails.
Photo by Mark Hall

 
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Greenways

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.