Our October newsletter is now online! Many ribbon cuttings, public meetings, surveys, and more.
- I-94 Modernization Project. We are critically disappointed that funding for this project has apparently been delayed by two decades. The Complete Streets/Multimodal portions of this project were highlighted in prior five-year plans, but with the new time frame, we see these as broken promises to reconnect the community.
- Hubbell Street bridge deck replacement over I-96. We would like to see this bridge cross section improved to better accommodate bicyclists with bike lanes, preferably grade-separated bike lanes. This segment of Hubbell is very popular for Detroit bicyclists since it is easier to cross I-96 at Hubbell since there are no interchange nor grade changes. The popularity of this route is shown on the Strava heatmap for bicyclists.
- Virgil Street bridge deck replacement. This bridge should be also designed to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, preferably with grade-separated bike lanes. This bridge provides a critical community connection across I-96 with Eliza Howell Park to the north and Rouge Park on the south. City of Detroit plans envision this bridge carrying the Rouge River Greenway.
- Pedestrian Bridges. We like seeing the Vassar and Sawyer bridges being replaced as well as the addition of a Verne bridge over I-94. However, we want the Spruce bridge added to the plan as well. This is a critical community connection for North Corktown with no legal, direct, or viable alternative for bicyclists.
- Fort Street (M-85) road rehabilitation from Rosa Parks to Griswold. We want this designed as a Complete Street. It provides a critical, direct connection between the Gordie Howe International Bridge and Downtown Detroit.
- US-12 and Gordie Howe International Bridge. We are glad to see these projects moving forward within this plan. We have led the non-motorized advocacy on these projects and look forward to celebrating their completion.
- Carbon Neutrality. We see no mention of MDOT plans to reduce GHG emissions and help make Michigan carbon neutral per the Governor’s commitment. In fact, the plan includes many major and minor widening projects that will induce higher VMT and increase GHG emissions.
At first glance, it appeared this five-year plan removed prior MDOT commitments for the Iron Belle Trail/Conner Creek Greenway bridge over I-94. After conversations with the City of Detroit and MDOT, we learned that it wasn’t removed. It was no longer individually identified and had been wrapped into another I-94 phase line item. This is confusing. We ask that MDOT consistently list projects for each five-year plan so the public can more accurately determine what changes exist or do not exist.
The below comments on the Belle Isle Mobility Plan draft were submitted to the DNR on July 24, 2023:
While we attended the video presentation (and have since rewatched it many times), we don’t feel we have enough information to fully weigh in on the changes proposed in the mobility study. We still have many design questions that prevent us from offering our full support at this time. However, there’s quite a bit that we do like and there are opportunities to make further improvements –
10-foot vehicle travel lanes – We would like the plan to consistently use 10’ travel lanes. This will reduce speeding without other negative safety impacts.
Cycletrack on MacArthur Bridge – We like this design as it provides separation from the vehicle traffic. We also ask that:
- This facility safely and efficiently connects with the West RiverWalk, East Jefferson, and East Grand Boulevard. We understand that the East Jefferson intersection is outside the scope of this plan, but it is absolutely critical that it is designed properly.
- More information is provided on how this cycletrack connects with the bike lane that encircles the island.
- The cycletrack is at least 12-feet wide, which can be accomplished with 10’ vehicle lanes. Per NACTO, “the desirable two-way cycle track width is 12 feet.”
- The buffer reduces road debris migrating from the vehicle lanes into the cycletrack.
- An automated, permanent bike counter and pedestrian counter is installed.
- A prominent sign be installed for travel lanes heading on to the island that clarifies bicyclists legal right to travel in the roadway. This can inform motorists and law enforcement on what to expect on the island and what is legal.
Outer roads – We support the one-way to two-way conversions to improve safety, but think there’s still some opportunity for improvement. We think this will reduce the Vehicles Miles Traveled on the island, which is a benefit to those walking and biking, as well as teh environment. We do support the separated bike lane traveling clockwise around the island.
- We like that Sunset Drive remains one-way. For larger, faster cycling groups traveling counterclockwise on the island, this is where the groups are at their widest and the design accommodates that. However, we’re not sure the two roundabouts are necessary and they could cause issues for the larger groups.
- We are concerned about the transition from the single-lane on the Strand and would like to see this design. We’re not sure there’s much benefit having two-way vehicle traffic between Fountain Drive and Picnic Way. We’d prefer keeping this one-way for the larger cycling groups to allow them to pass slower moving vehicles, which is common in this busier section of the park. It would be ideal for the larger groups if the one-way vehicle travel continued to Nashua Drive where the Strand gains a travel lane. Again, the roundabouts seem problematic for the faster cycling groups, so their need and design should be very intentional. Other traffic calming treatments might be preferred.
- For the constrained section of Lakeside Drive, a 10-foot clockwise travel lane will free up space for cycling groups traveling counterclockwise. We do have a concern about groups making unsafe passing decisions on this constrained segment.
- For Riverbank, we would like to see additional space for the larger groups traveling counterclockwise. Having 10-foot lanes would help, but they would also be traveling near angled parking, which would be less safe. As with the constrained portion of Lakeside, we are concerned that the cycling groups will make unsafe passing decisions.
Other roads – We generally find these roads to be less of a concern for bicyclists compared.
- We like the Central and Inselruhe Avenue promenades.
- We also like the shared use path along Loiter and Vista Drives but we’re not clear how this interfaces with the promenades, the forest pathways, and Iron Belle Trail loop.
- We support the reduction in curb radii as a means of traffic calming and shorting crosswalks.
- We have received multiple reports of motorists traveling in the Central Flatwoods bike lanes, so we really appreciate this road being converted to a walking and biking pathway. We don’t see the need for any one-way vehicle travel on this segment.
Bike lane maintenance – We want to see that the DNR and/or MDOT is committed to a maintenance plan for all of the bike lanes. Too often we’ve seen separated bike lanes suffer from a lack of maintenance, resulting in debris and stormwater collecting at the curb.
Stormwater Management – We support adding infrastructure and trees that naturally manage stormwater. We also find that removing pavement and other impervious surfaces is an even simpler solution that should be considered in all mobility designs. It seems that this plan adds to the island’s total impervious surface area, which is a concern.
Belle Isle’s Bicycle Heritage – There is a unique opportunity to celebrate the island’s bicycle heritage, especially with the Bicycle Pavillion. Bicyclists were riding on the island well before the first car was ever driven in Detroit. There were many prominent bicycle events on the island from major races in the 1890s to the Wolverine 200 ride. We would like to see how this connection between history and mobility could be included within the plan.
Our February Newsletter is now online!
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.
Todd Scott, Executive Director
Michigan Avenue Improvements
There 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.
Belle Isle Improvements
The 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.
- The 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.
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.