Categories
Complete Streets

NoMo-vember: Detroit Bike & Trail Project updates

  • Bike lanes were removed from recent safety funding projects: Warren & Mack
  • Downtown Bike Network implementation on hold due to downtown construction. Focusing on east-west connectors now.
  • Equipment breakdowns have affected bike lane maintenance
  • Caitlin Marcon is the Deputy DPW Director of Complete Streets

Detroit’s quarterly non-motorized facilities meeting was last week and there were many updates we want to pass along.

Safety Projects

Grant funding is available in the federal transportation bill to redesign streets with high crash rates. Detroit has many high crash roads and has been successfully receiving this funding through MDOT. Traffic Engineering does Complete Streets designs on these high crash roads, which always includes better walking facilities (e.g. crosswalks, countdown Walk/Don’t Walk timers) and often bike facilities (e.g. bike lanes). These projects typically receive minimal community engagement — usually a public meeting.

In 2017, Warren Avenue from the city of Dearborn (near Central) to Dequindre received funding. The plan included protected bike lanes. Given Mayor Duggan’s concern about removing vehicle lanes to add bike lanes without more public discussion, these have been pulled from the project. The two-way conversion of Warren in Woodbridge was completed. We are advocating that the city does add quality bike lanes on Warren from Trumbull to Dequindre. They would be a great connection between Woodbridge, Wayne State, and Eastern Market.

In 2018, Mack Avenue from the Dequindre Cut to Alter was funded. Bike lanes were not included except for the bridge between St. Aubin and Conner Avenue.

Harper Avenue was selected for 2019. With more community engagement, bike lanes can and should be included in these projects as they are a key design element for building safer streets.

Downtown Bike Lane Network

An earlier revision of the Downtown Bike Network Plan

Downtown has long lacked bike lanes. With MoGo and now motorized scooters, the need for a good bike network is greater than ever. The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) has been working on a plan, received funding from MDOT and the Erb Family Foundation, but didn’t have enough. With the added mobility staff in both the planning and public works departments, the city has taken a large role in the project.

We learned at the recent meeting that with all of the ongoing downtown construction, it wasn’t realistic to build the entire network now. What the DDP and City are looking to do is build two major east-west connectors through downtown. Those are Adams from Beacon Park to Brush and Michigan Avenue-to-E. Lafayette connector.

Bike Lane Maintenance

Recent equipment breakdowns have affected the city’s ability to sweep the bike lanes. They have been using blowers until they can get the sweepers repaired, or better still, get specialized bike lane maintenance equipment. The latter really is the best solution in the long run and we’re pushing city to make this happen.

Detroit’s Complete Streets Deputy Director

Caitlin Marcon had been leading  mobility planning within the Planning and Development Department. She’s now a Deputy Director at the Public Works Department and in charge of Complete Streets. This is a big deal and should help build collaboration between the two city departments.

It’s a bit hard to believe this has happened. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we started pushing the city to consider building Complete Streets.

Congratulations, Caitlin.

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!