Friends of the Joe Louis Greenway Greenways Newsletter Policy

News from the Trail – May 2022

Link to our May 2022 newsletter


Hamtramck Bike Ordinances Updated

Hamtramck City Council person Amanda Jaczkowski

The City of Hamtramck had some outdated bicycle ordinances that were restrictive for both youth and adults.

  • Youth under 12 years old were only allowed to ride their bikes on sidewalks. That meant they wouldn’t be able to legally ride on the new Joe Louis Greenway that is planned for the Hamtramck alleys west of Jos Campau.
  • Youth between 12 and 17 could ride in the streets and alleys but had to carry an operator’s license from the Chief of Police or a note from their parent or guardian.
  • Every bicycle ridden in Hamtramck had to be registered either by the city or an adjacent city. The registration would have been required for anyone riding on the Joe Louis Greenway in Hamtramck.

Fortunately these weren’t being enforced, but it made sense to get them off the books. They were burdensome and provided no benefits.

  • Under state law, parents and legal guardians are already responsible for their children’s bicycle riding.
  • Bicycle registration can help law enforcement return stolen property to their owner. With the advent of the Internet, there are now a couple free nationwide registrations (or through WSU.) In addition, mandatory bicycle registration can be a pretext for stopping any bicyclist.

The City of Detroit had very similar bicycle ordinances, but we helped remove them years ago.

Now they’re removed in Hamtramck thanks to the leadership of newly-elected City Councilperson Amanda Jaczkowski. Ms. Jaczkowski is also an active bicyclist and supporter of the Joe Louis Greenway.

Greenways Safety & Education

Hot off the presses: a Detroit Bike & Walk map

Long promised, finally here. Detroit has a bike and trail map again.

After many stops and starts, we finally got the funding we needed to complete the map and print 12,500 copies. Half of those have already been distributed at all the Detroit bike shops, runDetroit, the Lexus Velodrome, and Council member Scott Benson’s office at the Matrix Center. The Detroit Planning Department and Health Department also have copies they’ll be distributing at events across the city as will we.

The map shows all the current trails and bike infrastructure in Detroit as well as the Iron Belle Trail. It also include all the repair stations, bike shops, and kayak launches.

A substantial amount of effort went into including all the relevant laws pertaining to bicycling and pedestrians. Frankly, we’re not fans of the existing materials that fail to highlight laws motorists must follow around bicycles and pedestrians. We focus on those since they are the main determinant for improved safety. We also discuss the history of these laws, which were developed by the auto industry in the 1920s with no input from bicyclists.

The PDF of the map is available but it is a bit unwieldy. We’re going to work to get portions of it online in a more readable format.

Thanks to the DALMAC, the Office of Highway Safety Planning, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources for making this project possible.

Complete Streets Greenways History Newsletter Policy

News from the Trail – December 2017

Happy 149th Anniversary!

The first bicycle was ridden in Detroit 149 years ago. Ben Fletcher brought a 100-pound Hanlon bicycle to Detroit. It was mostly made of wood and iron — bicyclists hadn’t invented inflatable rubber tires yet. Fletcher crashed often as he tried riding it along Jefferson according to the Detroit Free Press. As much as the newspaper mocked the rider, they did believe bicycles would eventually be “as plenty as carriages in the streets.”

Year end donation

While it’s fun to look back, we need to keep focusing on moving things forward. To help us do that, we rely heavily on donations both big and small to cover our operating costs. It’s not too late to make a tax-deductible donation to the Detroit Greenways Coalition. We also have a montly support option if that’s more convenient. We appreciate any and all support!

Protected Bike Lanes (and Snow!)

People for Bikes just announced America’s best ten bikeways for 2017.  Though outside the top ten, Detroit did get honorable mention.

Every year, a handful of good projects narrowly miss our list.

One that stood out this year: the 3.5-mile protected bike lanes in Detroit’s Michigan Avenue, the latest in a series of massive projects that show the Motor City’s potential but have, so far, struggled with maintenance and poorly parked cars.

The City and MDOT have made rapid increases in new protected bike lanes — more than nearly all other U.S. cities — and there’s a learning curve for motorists and maintainence staff. The recent snow storm was a major challenge. The city has told us they are committed to maintaining them as well as the vehicle lanes. Once that happens, we can expect to see Detroit projects in that top ten.

Joe Louis Greenway Updates

  • Our new Joe Louis Greenway map is nearly complete. We should have copies to hand out by early next year.
  • Michigan Senator David Knezek has introduced Senate Resolution 115 “to support the city of Detroit’s efforts in the creation of the proposed Joe Louis Greenway.” We help craft this resolution with the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.
  • We wrote supported three recent grants that would add bike lanes to Joseph Campau in Hamtramck, acquire land that would nearly double the length of the Dequindre Cut, and build much of the greenway with an $18.3 million TIGER grant. We also worked with 25 Detroit bike clubs and they agreed to sign on in support. We hope to hear the results of all these grants in early 2018.

Local Bicycle Ordinances

You may have heard about a recently passed state law that increased speed limits on some Michigan roads. Earlier this month we noticed an inadvertent mistake in the bill’s language that makes all local bicycle ordinances enforceable. It effectively removes the need for governments to post signs indicating what local bicycle ordinances exist. We are now working to get this corrected. (The mistake also makes local truck routes largely unenforceable.)

This is not a major concern in the city of Detroit since we’ve been working to clean up and remove outdated bicycle ordinances since 2008. However, we still have work to do in other cities such as Hamtramck.

Bicycle Network Strategy

If you’ve attended our recent Bike Trails & Cocktails event, you already know that Detroit is close to finishing a Bicycle Network Strategy with the Copenhagenize design firm. The latter recently mentioned in on their web site saying it is “… a forward-thinking protected bicycle network strategy for the greater downtown area, helping to set a standard for many American cities to follow.” We’re really looking forward to this becoming finalized and help standardize what our bicycle facilities look like.

Michigan Trails Summit

We’ve been working closely with mParks on their 2018 Michigan Trails Summit. This year it’s in Detroit on February 6th at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center. Registration and conference details are now online.

Maybe we’ll see you there.

Until then, have a safe and happy holiday season!

Newsletter Policy

New Michigan laws on electric bikes

Terry Walker's Rickshaw Detroit Pedicab has this electric bikeElectric bikes (aka eBikes) are becoming more popular. Until this week, state law was unclear on their classification and use in Michigan. (See MTGA information below)

That’s all changed. Governor Snyder signed legislation this week to define and regulate electric bike use on roads and trails. There’s now a page on the Coalition web site that has more information on these changes.

How does this legislation affect Detroit much?

Not too much. Only the lower-powered pedal assist bikes are now allowed on linear paved trails like the Dequindre Cut, SW Greenlink, Conner Creek Greenway, etc. They likely are already on these trails. eBike sales may increase and get more people riding and riding longer distances. This would lead to greater demand for biking facilities, especially for non-stop travel. Longer term bike parking areas should incorporate charging stations. It’s unlikely this will affect trail maintenance demands.

We are having some discussions with city park staff and Council member Scott Benson regarding city ordinances, which are unclear about any bike riding on park paths. That’s something that could be clarified by updating old ordiances. Also, the paved walking paths in city parks are not linear (like a rail-trail) so this state legislation does not seem to apply to them.

All of these electric bikes are allowed on Detroit roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks.

Will this increase user conflicts?

Allowing these bike on sidewalks is a concern for bicycle-pedestrian interactions. The best solution is to provide safe on-road bike facilities that get most bicyclists off the sidewalks. Without providing this better alternative, other cities (e.g. Royal Oak) have found bicyclists largely ignore any sidewalk restrictions.

We’ll certainly learn more as this technology is adopted. I am hesitant to being overly concerned now because I still remember the fear mongering some bicyclists did when Segways were introduced — and that didn’t pan out.


Background and Analysis from MTGA

Many observers have noted that this legislation is needed because e-bikes are currently not classified under Michigan law. They are, however, being sold and used. Legislation is thought to be needed by many to bring clarity to the law for retailers and owners, members of the insurance industry and owners and operators of trails.

Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance (MTGA) was part of a workgroup that assisted in drafting the bill language together with the League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB), the Michigan Mountain Bike Association (MMBA), the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), PEAC, People for Bikes (an industry group), Bosch and other interest groups. The drafting process started with draft language from California and suggestions from People for Bikes.

The workgroup held 12 meetings over a period of four months. The draft language was then reviewed with trail owners and managers, including Michigan Department of Transportation, (MDOT), the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), the Michigan Townships Association (MTA), the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and the Michigan Parks and Recreation (m-Parks), through several meetings.

Electric bicycles are popular alternatives to traditional bicycles in many states and are also particularly popular in areas outside the United States. There are important management issues with electric bicycles and legitimate concerns have been expressed with allowing electric bicycles on natural surface trails, thus providing for local control is an important component of these bills.


News from the Trail – November 2017

Bike Trails and Cocktails

Thanks to everyone who attended our Bike Trails and Cocktails event last month. We hope everyone came away with a thorough overview of where we’re at and where we’re heading with respect to new trails, better biking, and so much more.

Thanks to presenters from both the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (on the Gordie Howe International Bridge) and the City of Detroit Planning Department. We are thrilled to be part of your big plans for moving the city and the region forward.

Thanks again to our sponsors who made this event possible: SmithGroup JJR, Hamilton Anderson, and LivingLAB.

Joe Louis Greenway

Last week the city moved forward with plans to rename the Inner Circle Greenway. With the Joe Louis Arena soon being demolished, Mayor Mike Duggan and others sought a worthy replacement. Naming the city’s longest trail after its greatest athlete lifts both. We are fully onboard with this as is the Joe Louis family. That’s not surprising since Joe Louis’ son is a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy board member.

We’ve written more about Louis, the origins of the original name and more on our web site. We’ve also updated our Joe Louis Greenway page with additional information and a timeline for the trail’s expected completion.

With our Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Doppelt Family Fund grant, we are updating our greenway trail map. We expect to have those available by the end of the year.

We are also working with the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance on a Michigan Senate Resolution in support of this greenway and its renaming.

Detroit 2017 Detroit Voter Guide

The Coalition is one of the original members of the Detroit Environmental Agenda. We recently published a Detroit Voter’s Guide where we asked all of the mayoral and council candidates their thoughts on environmental issues. If you’re a Detroit voter, this is for you!

Electric Bikes Legislation

Electric bikes (aka eBikes) are becoming more popular. Until this week, Michigan law was unclear on their classification and use in Michigan.

That’s all changed. Governor Snyder signed legislation this week to define and regulate electric bike use on roads and trails. There’s now a page on the Coalition web site that has more information on these changes.

In general, electric bicycles can operate on Detroit streets and bike lanes. Lower-powered pedal assist bikes can use paved linear paths like the Dequindre Cut, SW Greenlink, Conner Creek Greenway, and RiverWalk — though that could be changed by local authorities. These bikes are probably already operating on these trails.

We don’t expect many changes on the trails except that we may see more people using them. The state laws do give local authorities the ability to regulate (and de-regulate) electric bikes.