Categories
Greenways Newsletter

News from the Trail – November 2018

Please Vote

Trails like the Joe Louis Greenway are not on the ballot today, but the politicians making trail funding decisions are. We’re members of the Detroit Environmental Agenda and they have more voting information including Detroit Charter Revision Commissioners.

To make getting to the polls a bit easier, Lime scooters are offering free 30-minute rides today with the promo code LIME2VOTE2018.

Joe Louis Greenway

Framework Planning Proposals are due this week. With this being such a critical greenway planning process, we put together this brief article on what we think a winning proposal should include. First and foremost is community engagement. It’s a long trail and we want to make sure everyone gets the opportunity to participate in the design process. This is much more than just a trail project.

The city expects to review the proposals and award a contract by the end of the year.

$100 million for the RiverWalk and other Trails

You likely heard the great news that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation pledged $100 million towards Detroit trails and the RiverWalk.

$40 million of that goes to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s West Riverfront Park project. As a result, the park was renamed to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park. An additional $10 million goes into an endowment to fund the park’s long-term sustainability.

Another $40 million is for building regional, connecting trails in Southeast Michigan, including the Iron Belle Trail. We imagine the Joe Louis Greenway could potentially receive some of this funding. The last $10 million is also an endowment to help operate and maintain the these trails.

At the announcement ceremony, we had the opportunity to personally thank Mary Wilson and share some stories on how trails and bicycling are benefitting Detroiters in the neighborhoods. It’s more profound than most realize and it’s our role to share these stories.

Bike lanes: Planning, Building, Maintaining

Detroit has approved $125 million in road bonds to revitalize commerical corridors. About $80 million of that targets major infrastructure improvements on key corridors, which includes Complete Streets and stormwater designs. The following should be under construction next year:

  • Livernois (Puritan to Eight Mile Road). The last we heard the infamous median will be removed, the sidewalks widened, and bike lanes added.
  • W. McNichols (Marygrove College to UDM). This includes both an sidepath trail segment and bike lanes. The Fitzgerald Greenway just south of McNichols will also be under construction next year.

E. Jefferson will also get this road funding. We recently attended the initial stakeholder planning meeting. A public meeting is tentatively planned for December 12th. We’ll share more information as we get it. In the meantime, the city is offering office hours at the Elmwood Park Public Library on Tuesdays from 5 to 7pm on Nov. 20th, Dec. 4th, and December 18thif you would like to learn more.

Our Hamilton Avenue bike lane project in Highland Park continues to move forward. If all goes as planned, we are expect that project to be constructed next year.

MDOT has also started planning for a major streetscape project on Grand River Avenue from the Southfield freeway to Berg Road. At a recent community meeting, most of the resident and business concerns focused on speeding cars and pedestrian safety. Bike lanes are also being discussed and MDOT is trying to find additional funding to continue this design from the Southfield to I-94.

One would expect news to slow as the weather turns chilly, but that’s certainly not the case.


Donate today to help us continue our work making Detroit a great place for biking, walking, and trails.

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

 
Categories
Greenways Policy

Bike Life is not getting displaced from the Riverfront

ClickonDetroit recently published the article, Detroit riverfront residents fed up with drag races, loud music, marijuana at night. That might not caught the eye of Detroit bicyclists except that the accompanying video showed bikes with music systems.

Were the complaints from residents, including new residents of Orleans Landing about them? Were they about to be displaced from the riverfront area? Is this New Detroit vs. Old Detroit?

Detroit Police 7th Precinct hosted a meeting with Council member Mary Sheffield to hear from residents and discuss their plans to address the concerns. We attended to learn more and share information with the bike club riders.

Despite the original video, the issue isn’t about bicycles at all. It’s about speeding as well as parked cars and motorcycles and their loud stereo systems.

It was mostly Old Detroit raising concerns. They consistently noted that these concerns weren’t new and they many had been raising them for years.

Perhaps only one “New Detroit” person spoke up to suggest the city look for other locations where this noisy culture can exist without affecting quality of life of nearby resident — rather than just do enforcement.

The police will be stepping up enforcement for the remainder of the summer by enforcing speed limits, noise levels, and parking restrictions. They are temporarily prohibiting parking on some streets this weekend to deal with loitering in parked cars. Longer term parking limitations may be implemented as well.

That’s not to say noise concerns couldn’t someday get applied to bicycles. Some systems can get super loud. It probably would be best if riders could self-police noise levels in the late evening and early morning hours to prevent this from becoming a public concern.

While the city of Detroit noise ordinance only applies to motor vehicles, city council could change that. We’d rather not see that happen.

Categories
Greenways

Growing city support for greenways in Detroit

2015 Bike Trails and Cocktails bike tour mapSeven years ago our only major biking and trails proponent was packing up his desk at the Detroit Mayor’s office and heading back to a job in the private sector. Our city support was looking bleak.

What a change we’ve seen since then!

We now have supporters throughout most city departments and in the Mayor’s office. Though Detroit has many challenges and priorities, our work is seen as an important quality of life issue from the neighborhoods to downtown.

This summer we’ve gained another supporter with the new Planning and Development Director Maurice Cox. We heard this support firsthand at a recent event on the RiverWalk

With help from the Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative and Bedrock Management, the inaugural Bike Trails and Cocktails event was held. It began with a guided 8-mile bike tour of nearby greenway projects with assistance from Detroit’s Eastside Riders bike club. This tour included recently completed portions of the Detroit RiverWalk, the Dequindre Cut Extension, the planned Beltline Greenway and Elmwood Connector.

At the ride’s conclusion, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy provided more updates on their work and answered questions.

Next up was Cox who made a statement by riding to the event. This was not atypical for him though. He bikes to work, to Eastern Market, and all around town. Biking has been his primary means of transportation long before he got to the Motor City and he sees no need to change.

Bike-Trails-and-Cocktrails-by-Khalil-LigonLiving in Lafayette Park, he uses the nearby Dequindre Cut often. He told the attendees that every Detroit neighborhood deserves a great greenway like this — something that’s very much in line with the Detroit Greenways Coalition vision and Food and Fitness Collaborative goals.

One major project that will bring a greenway to many Detroit neighborhoods (as well as Hamtramck, Highland Park and Dearborn) is the 26-mile Inner Circle Greenway. Cox spoke highly of the project and the opportunity to look beyond just the trail. He added that the greenway can be catalyst for development similar to the Atlanta Beltline.

He also stressed the value in having the Coalition in Detroit to help show community support. He told the crowd that he would join the Coalition before the event was over. He also noted that he was heading to Copenhagen the next day as part of a study tour that looks at progressive European transportation and public space designs that are people-focused. We’re looking forward to what ideas he can bring back to Detroit.

What a change from seven years ago!

 

Categories
Greenways

Governor approves Beltline Greenway funding & more

Beltline GreenwayGovernor Rick Snyder signed the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriations bill today — St. Patrick’s Day — which spreads a bit-o-green around the state.

Included in the bill is $2 million in land acquisition funding to buy property within Wayne County in order to complete gaps in the cross-state Iron Belle Trail.

One of those gaps is the Beltline Greenway in Detroit. This conceptual path was part of the GREEN non-motorized planning for the lower eastside. The community recognized it as a priority connection.

The greenway would follow a former railroad called the Beltline that connected the Uniroyal Site on the RiverWalk and headed north to the Gleaner’s Community Food Bank and beyond. It actually goes under E. Jefferson Avenue. The city rebuilt this bridge last year in anticipation of the greenway.

For the Iron Belle Trail, the routing goes from the RiverWalk to Kercheval, shown as the purple line on the map graphic.

Conrail no longer owns this railroad property. The DEGC owns the property south of Jefferson while it’s in private hands to the north. With this funding, the DNR will have conversations with these private property owners about purchasing land to create the trail.

Of course additional funding is needed to design, build, and endow a maintenance/operations fund, but this is a major step forward.

Categories
Greenways

Top 5 Detroit bike and trail projects for 2015

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…

Link Detroit

Link Detroit project for Tiger-IIIThis 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

Inner Circle GreenwayDetroit 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.

Separated bike lanes in Chicago via NACTO
Separated bike lanes in Chicago via NACTO

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

Bike counting kiosk example from Montreal
Bike counting kiosk example from Montreal

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!