Greenways History In the Media

Goodbye, Inner Circle Greenway. Hello, Joe Louis Greenway.

Joe Louis Greenway MapThe 26-mile greenway that wraps around the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park has a new name.

Back in February 2017, Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley asked, “When Joe Louis Arena is gone, how do we honor Detroit legend?” Legend isn’t used lightly with Louis. He was so much more than a world champion boxer. From breaking color barriers to fighting fascism, Louis was an inspirational both inside and outside of the ring.

So when Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan proposed naming the Inner Circle Greenway in his honor, it also lifted the greenway. A conceptual asphalt trail around the city in 2008 was now being named after the city’s most impactful athlete. Riley’s followup column wrote, “Detroit cements honor for Joe Louis with a giant greenway around the city.”

Louis’s family approved of the naming. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise as his son is a bicyclist and is a board member for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

“I am delighted that the (greenway) will be named after my father Joe Louis,” said Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. son of the famous boxer. “It is a fitting tribute to a person who had a positive impact on so many people.”

Mayor Duggan added, “It will unite neighborhoods from all corners of this city in a dedicated area for walking and jogging and biking.”

Before this announcement, we contacted retired city attorney Jim Edwards. Jim was an early champion of the trail and coined the original name. He was very supportive of the renaming.

One interesting coincidence with the original name was the this caricature of P.N. Jacobsen standing in an “inner circle”. Jacobsen led the creation of the Detroit Terminal Railroad — which makes up about 8 miles of the greenway — and was an active Detroit cyclist during the 1880s and 1890s.

He wrote an article called The Detroit Wheelmen for the Outing Magazine in 1891. It noted that a result of the city putting on asphalt on the streets, “Wheeling has attained a height of popularity in Detroit heretofore unknown.”

Of course this was years before Detroit was Motor City — and we’re not advocating relinquishing that title. We just suggest adding a new one.

Detroit, world heavyweight greenway champion.

More information on the Joe Louis Greenway

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 In the Media Newsletter

Coalition Updates – December 2015

Welcome to December!

#GivingTuesday is nearly over, but there’s still an opportunity to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Coalition. By donating through the PayPal fund, service fees are waived and they’ll add an additional 1%.

We were recently featured in an NBC News article and video, Motor City to Bike City: Inside Detroit’s Bicycle Renaissance. It was a great opportunity to highlight all the work being done in Detroit and the impact it’s having in making the city more bike-friendly.

Digging Detroit also published a video, Rails-to-Tales: Detroit’s Inner CIrcle Greenway. It includes footage from the abandoned rail corridor as well as historic photos.

While much progress has been made on the Inner Circle Greenway recently, there has been some unfortunate news. Detroit’s $10.4 million federal TIGER grant was not selected. The TIGER program is hyper-competitive, so that’s not too much of a surprise. The Coalition is working with the city on alternative funding plans which may include another shot at TIGER.

We recently biked with Detroit’s Planning Director Maurice Cox and MDOT’s projects managers for the I-94 widening project. We rode along the I-94 corridor and discussed mostly negative impacts MDOT’s project will have on biking and walking. We’ve been highlighting these concerns for years now so having Maurice involved and being equally concerned is very welcomed. We can’t afford to lose pedestrian bridges and other key community connections across the freeways.


2016 Events
We are making plans for next year and expanding upon our successful Bike Trails & Cocktails event. Initial plans are to host these events quarterly. Some will include bike tours, guest speakers, and more.

Stay tuned as we expect to announce more details in the coming months.