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

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

Complete Streets Greenways Newsletter

News from the Trail – December 2016

Downtown Detroit Public Meeting

We’ve encouraged the Downtown Detroit Partnership for some time about making Downtown Detroit more bike-friendly — and now they are and in a major way. This is so critical now since the area’s rebirth is bringing more traffic and their public bike share program will launch in April.

They’ve been working on designs for an initial phase of a protected bike lane network through the Downtown and even along Woodward. These are advanced designs unlike anything seen before in Michigan. Everyone wants to make sure they will work safely. They want your feedback on this (as well as future bike share station locations and more.)

They are hosting a public meeting on Monday, December 12th from 4pm until 6pm at the Boll Family YMCA. If you can attend, please register. If you can’t, please share your thoughts with contact James Fidler at

Protected Bike Lanes Expanding

In addition to the downtown, protected bike lanes are being installed on Michigan Avenue and Livernois this year. Cass Avenue’s will happen next year with E. Jefferson not far behind.

A national media source asked us why Detroit is building so many protected bike lanes. We said we have to because Detroit is going to be America’s number one city for bicycling.

With this rapid change, there’s a major learning curve for everyone. We’re working with city and other stakeholders on safety education efforts. We also worked with MDOT to update their “What every motorist must know about bike lanes” brochure, which now includes protected bike lanes.

We’re asking everyone to be careful, considerate and patient while everyone learns how to operate around these new designs. Just like roundabouts, it’s going to take a bit of time.

Neighborhood & Greenway Planning Approved

Four neighborhood planning contracts were approved by City Council last week. All four include planning for these areas to become 20-minute neighborhoods, where every non-work errand can be made with a 20 minute bike ride or walk.

The Greater Islandview contract also includes the Beltline Greenway which we’ve been working on for a number of years. We helped make it part of the Iron Belle Trail, which brought in million dollars in funding to acquire the private property. Our Rouge River Greenway concept is the Grandmont-Rosedale project.

Look for community meetings on all projects during the next few months.

In the meantime, enjoy this great video from ClickonDetroit that discusses 20-minute neighborhoods as well as the Beltline Greenway.

Gordie Howe International Bridge

While there is no guarantee that we’ll be able to bike or walk over the new bridge, it will be designed for it. That’s a requirement of the design proposal released by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) and a priority for us over the past few years.

We met with the three teams bidding on the project last week. One engineer noted it was critical having the bike and pedestrian requirement at the start because it greatly affects the bridge design and how much the road surface is allowed to deflect. In other words, in a car you might not notice a bridge moving up and down, but it would be unnerving on a bike or on foot.

We’re on the WDBA U.S. Environmental Advisory team and will stay on top of this project as it moves forward.

Our Fundaising Campaign

We need your help so that we can continue our work. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our Coalition. Thanks to those who have already given generously.

Also, by shopping through Amazon Smile program, a percentage of your purchase goes towards the Coalition. It’s an easy way to give and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.


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.


Public meeting to help plan Belle Isle Trails System

Belle Isle on Google MapsThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting a public meeting to allow the community an opportunity for input as we develop a master plan for the Belle Isle Trail system.

DATE: Wednesday, August 24th
TIME: 6:30pm -8:30pm
LOCATION: Belle Isle State Park, Flynn Pavilion

Project Description from the DNR:

The plan is developing a 6-mile paved multi-use trail loop around the perimeter of Belle Isle Park in order to connect to existing park facilities and provide safe non-motorized recreation to all visitors on the island as well as siting of the southern trailhead for the Iron Belle Trail. The park currently includes bicycle lanes located on the park’s main perimeter road and two miles of hiking trails located in natural areas of the park. The master plan will develop a trail system through the 200 acre unique wet-mesic flatwoods on the East end of the island and identify gaps in the Belle Isle State Park’s existing trail system and locate a trailhead for the southern terminus of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail. The Iron Belle Trail is made of two statewide trails (hiking and biking routes) traveling 2,000 miles from Detroit to Ironwood several park attractions are not easily accessible to pedestrians and other non-motorized uses. The park is in need of a separate multi-use looped trail system in order to connect existing park facilities.

Uses enhanced by this project include bicycle, pedestrian, persons with disabilities, roller bladders, strollers, hikers. The trail will also provide access to natural ecosystems, wildlife observation and educational opportunities. The Master Plan will define types of trails to be developed, determine location of trails and trailheads, determine trailhead layout and site amenities, and develop standards for trail signage. Surfacing and signage will be selected to enhance the surrounding park landscape. Project documents will include estimates of probable cost and phasing plan for implementation of the improvements identified, taking into consideration the current funding climate.

This master plan is critical in developing the Belle Isle State Park as a regional trail hub, connecting the park to the region’s trail system. When combined with the additional amenities on the island, the proposed looped trail around the island with views of the Detroit River and Canada will be a one of kind experience not found anywhere else in the City of Detroit or surrounding region.

Upon Completion of the Coastal Zone Management Grant ($50,000) funded Master plan, the DNR Parks and Recreation Division will proceed with engineering drawings for the first phase of Belle Isle trail improvement that will include construction of the Iron Belle Trailhead. Construction of the Iron Belle Trailhead will be funded through grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund ($300,000) and National Recreation Trail Fund ($300,000).


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.