This program has continued to support successful grassroot projects throughout Detroit, so it’s exciting that another year of mini-grants are available.
The Active Living Detroit Mini-Grant Program awards mini-grants of up to $1000 to Detroiters developing sustainable projects and activities aimed at promoting physical activity and environments that support active living.
Priority is given to projects that:
1) Engage community residents, particularly youth;
2) Support complete streets concepts and implementation; and
3) Incorporate Detroit Greenways.
Any neighborhood groups or organization located in the city of Detroit are eligible to apply. This includes, but is not limited to, block clubs, art groups, service organizations, parks and recreational organizations, churches, professional associations, school-based groups, and individuals. Limit to one application per organization.
The grant application and flyer (in English and Spanish) are available on HEP’s web site. Examples of other previously successful grants are also listed.
For further information, contact Cindy Gamboa, HEP Community Outreach Coordinator at (313) 593-0924 or email@example.com.
Let’s start by saying it’s not easy picking only five — and that speaks well about all that is happening to make the city of Detroit a better place for biking and trails. But here we go in no specific order…
This multi-faceted $20 million non-motorized project will be completed by the summer. Yes, it was supposed to be completed by last November but construction was delayed with unexpected utility issues and a polar vortex.
What does this project involve?
Extending the Dequindre Cut from Gratiot to Mack Avenue with a additional connecting trail into Eastern Market along the north side of Wilkins.
Adding bike lanes from the end of the Cut to Hamtramck, mostly along St. Aubin. These are done.
Replacing three bridges over the Dequindre Cut. If you’ve ridden the pothole-ridden Wilkins bridge before then you know this is good news for bicyclists.
Improving Russell Street. This mostly focuses on pedestrian improvements, but it also include some very nice bike parking stations.
Adding bike lanes and a Midtown Loop path connection from Eastern Market to Midtown.
We thought it would be invaluable to count how many people are using this new section of the Dequindre Cut, so we got the DEGC (who’s managing the project) to add 3 automated bike and pedestrian counters. These will count 24/7 and the data will be part of the Coalition’s much larger city wide effort to count usage and document trends.
Inner Circle Greenway
Detroit city staff refer to this as the “mother of all non-motorized projects.” If you’ve not heard about it before, the Inner Circle Greenway is a 26-mile pathway that encircles the city of Detroit while passing through Hamtramck, Highland Park, and a little bit of Dearborn. It makes use of existing trails such as the Southwest Detroit Greenlink, RiverWalk, and Dequindre Cut, so roughly half of the pathway is complete. For all these reasons and more, it is a very high-priority project for our Coalition.
The largest gap is an 8.3 mile segment of abandoned railroad property. If all goes as planned, we expect Detroit will purchase the property this year using $4.5 million in grant funding the Coalition helped secure. We will be making another announcement soon about additional grant funding for planning. We will also work with the city on a substantial federal grant to build out the Greenway while also trying to get funding for more community engagement.
Lastly, we are finalizing some nice new maps of the trail. We’ll have those by the bike show in March.
Conner Creek Greenway
This Greenway begins at Maheras Gentry Park on the Detroit River and heads north roughly following Conner Avenue. It’s a mix of bike lanes, shared roadway, and off-road paths — and it’s nearly complete. This year it will get extended from Conner along E. Outer Drive to Van Dyke, crossing Eight Mile, and ending at Stephens Road (9.5 mile.) While this seems like a modest project for the top five, one should consider how many organizations were involved in making this happen: Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Nortown CDC, Eight Mile Boulevard Association, the Detroit Greenways Coalition, City of Warren, City of Detroit, SEMCOG, Wayne County and two MDOT TSCs.
It also is significant since it crosses Eight Mile and is part of the Showcase Trail between Belle Isle and Wisconsin. Look for plenty of green bike lanes in Warren’s section.
E. Jefferson Bike Lanes
A very short segment of E. Jefferson will get bike lanes this year from Alter Road to Lakewood. Why is this a big deal? They’ll be the first separated (aka protected) bike lanes in Southeast Michigan. This is precedent setting and could serve as a model for all of Detroit’s major spoke roads.
East Jefferson Inc. is also working with other members of the GREEN Task Force and the city of Detroit to extend those bike lanes to the Belle Isle entrance at E. Grand Boulevard.
Cass Avenue Bike Lanes and Midtown Loop
M1-Rail is creating a major cycling safety hazard on Woodward by locating streetcar rails near the curbs where bicyclists ride. As a result, the FTA and MDOT agreed to make Cass Avenue a more attractive cycling option. This summer Cass will be getting bike lanes (some buffered) from W. Grand Boulevard to Lafayette. A mixture of bike lanes, sharrows, and off-road paths will connect Cass to the RiverWalk via Lafayette, Washington Boulevard, E. Jefferson, and Bates.
But that’s not all. Public bike repair stations and air pumps will be installed along with automated counters including two kiosks that display bike counts in real-time. Those counts will also be automatically uploaded and available on the web as well.
This project also completes the final leg of the Midtown Loop along Cass Avenue between Canfield and Kirby.
Honorable Project Mentions
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy should complete two new sections of the RiverWalk in 2015: Chene Park East and Chene Park West. A third project will begin later this year that connects the current dead end near Riverplace to Chene Park East.
The Downtown Detroit Partnership is becoming our non-motorized champion in the downtown area. They are currently developing a plan for sorely needed biking connections. They’re looking to take the best of what New York City, Chicago, Portland have done and bring it here, which couldn’t happen soon enough.
We really need to mention the amazing work of the Detroit Public Lighting Authority. Their ongoing installation of new LED street lights is making biking and walking much safer. Pardon the bad joke, but it’s like night and day.
Complete Streets ordinance
This is not really a project but a policy change that the Coalition, Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative and others have been working on for years. We expect it to go before a City Council vote this year and we’d be surprised if it didn’t pass. For more information, check out Detroit Complete Streets page.
No, we didn’t mention the public bike sharing or the Uniroyal Site. We need to save some projects for future years!
In May of 2010 the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion received a complete streets grant from the State of Michigan with three components to complete within one year! The tasks to 1) form a coalition; 2) educate the community on complete streets; and 3) pass a local ordinance, seemed relatively simplistic at the time. We had no idea that it would take so much more energy, time, and priority shifting.
Unlike other communities in Michigan that received the same grant, we had many other pressing concerns in the community, namely lighting and blight. Community residents rightfully educated us by stating: what is the use of a bike lane or new sidewalk if the streetlights are not working or I feel unsafe because of the abandoned building I have to pass. Though the city still faces many challenges, we have made sure to be involved in advocacy efforts that are repairing our community – the work is progressing, the city is moving forward.
We have worked diligently since 2010 to get complete streets as part of the framework for the city moving forward. Still, we are not where we would like to be, but we are at the table! Many iterations of the ordinance have been developed over the years and it is our hope that we are finally close to the finish line of an ordinance that intentionally plans for the incorporation of complete streets in road projects.
In the meantime, we have not stopped our momentum to do the work making the city safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers regardless of physical ability or age. To date, the city has 158 miles of bike lanes, 35 miles of complete streets infrastructure, and 17 miles of greenways. Next year, these numbers will increase as plans are being funded to do more work. In five years, we hope to see miles of bike lanes, complete streets infrastructure, and greenways more than double.
Our progress in Detroit is gaining national attention. Recently, we were invited to the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting to present on how our work is improving the health and wellness of our residents. Even Apple filmed a commercial showing the Slow Roll bicycle rides taking over the City of Detroit.
While our progress is impressive, the work of Detroit is in large part contingent on what happens at the Federal level. Currently, we are operating under an eight month extension that keeps the status quo for funding, including non-motorized funding. But time is running out, the Federal Transportation Bill is once again set to expire on May 31, 2015. Then the funding will dry up. Our elected officials have a propensity for last minute saves, the 2013 shutdown notwithstanding. The current bill being discussed will only cover roads and not include non-motorized financing, including nixing Safe Routes to School. This would be a big step backward for our work and progress. As the new Congress takes office in 2015, we will see if our officials are committed to moving us forward toward safer throughways for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers regardless of physical ability or age.