Complete Streets Greenways Safety & Education

2023 in Review

This was a seriously good year for making biking, walking, and rolling better in the City of Detroit. Here are some of the highlights.

Greenway Openings

  • Southwest Greenway – This 0.6-mile rail-trail sibling of the Dequindre Cut opened in May and provides a very convenient connection between Corktown and the RiverWalk. This also includes the 15th Street pedestrian/bicycle connection to renovated Michigan Central and Roosevelt Park.
  • RiverWalk Uniroyal Site – The long anticipated segment between the Mt. Elliott and Gabriel Richard Parks opened in October. Thousands of people came out for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy‘s celebration. This closed the biggest gap on the East RiverWalk.
  • Joe Louis Greenway – The City of Detroit officially opened the Warren Gateway trailhead on Halloween. Calling it a trailhead doesn’t do it justice. It’s a great community gathering and play space. It’ll be a major destination along the JLG. The Meade Cut-Thru north of Hamtramck opened this year as well and provides another neighborhood connection to the greenway.

Complete Streets

  • East Warren saw some of its separated bike lanes upgraded with concrete curbs, landscaping, and much more from 3 Mile Drive to Cadieux. We’re advocating for extending the East Warren separated bike lanes west of St. Jean to the (future) Joe Louis Greenway, WSU, Woodbridge and more — especially since we expect this to be part of the Iron Belle Trail route.
  • Rosa Parks streetscape is a newly opened cycletrack from West Grand Boulevard (near the Motown Museum) to Gordon Park (near the Congregration). This project also removed a couple unnecessary vehicle lanes, which reduces stormwater runoff and nearly doubles the size of the adjacent MLK Jr. Memorial Park.
Map of Detroit showing streets that would get safety improvements by either rapid implementation or enhanced protection

Road Safety

  • Safe Streets for All funding – In February, the City of Detroit received $24.8 million in federal funding to improve its most unsafe streets. The city reapplied for additional funding from the same program and received another $24.8 million grant to address 56 high-crash intersections served by DDOT. This latter grant will also “conduct a Level of Traffic Stress analysis to address gaps in bicyclist/pedestrian networks, update the City’s Comprehensive Safety Action Plan, and pilot training for DDOT bus operators to ensure safe operations around people walking and biking.” This funding will lead to some community meetings and major street improvements in 2024.
  • Under state law, nearly all residential streets in Detroit have a default 25 MPH speed limit. No speed limit signs are required. During an earlier state legislative session, changes were made to this section of state law that would remove this default on January 1st, 2024. We supported a bill to keep the current residential speed limits, and when it got held up in the House, we worked to get it unstuck. It passed the Senate and was signed by the Governor.
Closed Spruce Street pedestrian bridge over the Lodge

(Dis)connecting Communities

  • Pedestrian Bridges – Freeways divide Detroit neighborhoods, so when they were first constructed, pedestrian bridges were added to help reduce this disconnection. Through the years, MDOT has not maintained these bridges and many of them are now closed. We’re involved at the local, state, and federal levels to address the lack of maintenance, non-compliant ADA designs, and their outright closures, most recently with the Canfield Bridge. We are expect to have more updates in 2024 as we stay on top of this.
  • I-375 Reconnecting Communities – We are pleasantly surprised that there’s been more vocal opposition to the overbuilt replacement boulevard than the freeway removal itself this year. This continued pressure along with new post-COVID traffic counts could lead to a tighter boulevard design that’s better for bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s much less expensive to do a road diet before you build it. Stay tuned for updates and more public meetings in 2024.
Miles of Bike Infrastructure (Centerline)New for 2023Total
Bike Routes (sharrows)042.4
Bike Lanes (includes 0.25 miles removed on 14th Street in Corktown)2.593.2
Detroit Greenways Coalition infrastructure database
Complete Streets Events Greenways Newsletter Policy Safety & Education

News from the Trail – November 2023

Our newsletter is now online with updates on the Joe Louis Greenway, RiverWalk, Complete Streets, MDOT projects, and much more.

UPDATE: Note that the newsletter says MoGo-A-GoGo is on a Tuesday. November 9th is a Thursday.

Climate Action Complete Streets

MDOT 5 Year Plan Comments

Below are our comments on the draft MDOT 2024-208 Five-Year Transportation Plan. You can submit your own comments before September 8th, 2023.

  • 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.

Complete Streets Greenways Newsletter Policy

News from the Trail – February 2023

Read all the latest updates in our online newsletter.

Greenways Safety & Education

Getting Involved: Five Detroit Projects for 2023

Giving input given during project planning is the most effective way for the public to improve them for walking and biking. It gets much more difficult to make changes once a project is under construction.

Below is a list of five major Detroit projects that will have planning in 2023. The first two have surveys you can take now to provide your input. The other three should have meetings later this year. While we’ll do our best letting you know when those occur, you might consider subscribing to get email updates.

Belle Isle Mobility

We’ve been raising safety issues for bicyclists and pedestrians on the island for over a decade. Little has been done, but that could be changing. There is a currently a mobility plan underway that could lead to real safety improvements on the park roads as well as the MacArthur Bridge. The first step is to take the survey which is open through February 19th. There will be additional engagement throughout the year.

ACTION: Take the Multimodal Mobility survey

MDOT Pedestrian Bridges

Pedestrian bridges over the freeways provide safe, critical community connections. However, MDOT doesn’t want to maintain these pedestrian bridges, and when the bridges are no longer safe, they want to permanently remove them. One of the recent closures is the Spruce Bridge that safely connected North Corktown to Downtown. MDOT has a survey to collect feedback on how people use the bridge and while pitching the much less safe alternative crossing at Temple — a bridge that doesn’t provide east-west crossing for bicyclists.

ACTION: Take the MDOT Spruce Bridge Survey

Later this year MDOT will be evaluate all the Detroit pedestrian bridges to determine which other ones they can remove. We asked that MDOT also evaluate where pedestrian bridges need to be installed, though it remains to be seen if they will do that. We really need the community voice to back us up and tell MDOT they can no longer disinvest in their Detroit infrastructure and disconnect communities.

I-375 Replacement

MDOT will be replacing the current I-375 freeway with an surface-level boulevard. While the basic framework for this project is set, there are still opportunities to get involved and provide feedback. For example, we’re continuing push for safer biking and walking along and across the boulevard so that it really does reconnect communities. Per MDOT, “there will be many more opportunities for community input and participation” but especially as it relates to excess property this project creates.

ACTION: Subscribe for MDOT Updates

Gratiot Avenue

Gratiot Avenue in Detroit is likely the most dangerous road in Michigan. By our estimates, 1.5% of all Michigan road fatalities occur on this stretch of road. MDOT has now started a PEL study to “identify and evaluate safety, multimodal mobility, transit needs, and proposed improvements.” We expect there will be community engagement this year and hope there’s a strong collective voice that demands a safer, saner street for all users.

ACTION: Sign up for MDOT Updates

A PEL Study was completed for Michigan Avenue. That helped attract $25 million in federal funding to rebuild that state road. We want to see the same happen for Gratiot.

Joe Louis Greenway

Planning and construction is happening quickly for the 27.5 mile trail. The City of Detroit is trying to keep everyone updated on this project as well as the public engagement opportunities. The best way to get “in the loop” is to subscribe to their newsletter.

ACTION: Subscribe to the Detroit JLG newsletter

Complete Streets Greenways Newsletter Policy Safety & Education

News from the Trail – November 2022

Link to our November 2022 newsletter