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!

10 replies on “Top 5 Detroit bike and trail projects for 2015”

Wow detroit is doing awesome crime is lower then it’s ever been in 45 yrs things are happening at a fast pace. I will do my first bike ride in detroit this spring and fall. I been seeing a lot of people from rochester hills coming back to give there support.

“Bridge people”, involved with sites such as,,, etc., often dismiss the “ugly concrete barrier” that replaced the original railing on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard Railroad Overpass (as the 1896 structure is still officially known).
In June 2010, the graffiti on the concrete was replaced with two white-on-blue murals, known as CLOUD BRIDGE. Artists Davin Brainard and Dion Fischer were commissioned to paint the murals, as part of a neighborhood beautification project sponsored by Southwest Solutions.
Recently, this bridge person changed his mind. Perhaps the official name of the overpass should be changed to Cloud Bridge.
By any name, this is the most beautiful railroad overpass ever built in Detroit. In addition to the murals, the bridge inspired a chamber music work, written by Detroit composer / artist Warren DeFever. CLOUD BRIDGE premiered at Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art in October 2011, performed by ASM (Anti-Social Music Chamber Ensemble).
I support inclusion of this arched overpass on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s one of the rarest and most significant historic bridges in Michigan. It might be the oldest concrete arch bridge in Michigan – it’s certainly the only known example of a concrete arch bridge built with Melan-type reinforcement in the state – and it’s among the longest-surviving concrete bridges in North America. It remains the one-and-only arched railroad grade-separation structure built in Detroit. It’s also the oldest extant railroad overpass in the city. It also provides West Grand Boulevard traffic with the shortest minimum vertical clearance available on any public street in Detroit (eight feet, ten inches).
I would like to see an elevated, grade-separated “trail-with-rails” on this bridge, extending from the Detroit riverfront, running alongside the Detroit portal of the 1910 Michigan Central Railroad Detroit River Tunnel, over the c. 1913 Michigan Central Station Viaduct, continuing westward over century-old girder bridges to West Detroit Junction (Detroit’s first railroad junction, created in December 1855).
Half of the seven or eight tracks that once ran over the boulevard arch have been removed, leaving an elevated, vacant swath, forty feet wide.
At West Detroit, the trail-with-rails could eventually curve south over Junction Avenue (officially known as Lovers Lane until 1887), to run parallel with the former Toledo, Canada Southern & Detroit Railway (completed in September 1873). It could potentially connect with proposed greenway trails in the downriver Detroit area.
I nominate the following name for the proposed elevated trail: Cloud Bridge Greenway.

Great to see Detroit getting involved in bike lane. Only one problem Detroiter do not know the Laws governing bikes & vehicle on Michigan Road. Let’s educate the public with TV and Billboards ads.

We are currently seeking funding for a multifaceted citywide safety and education program. We’re also working with the city of Detroit on a possible safety video.

It would be nice to have bathrooms get a drink or to take a break along the Downtown to Dequinder routes I didn’t hear something of a bike stop would be done at the Old Joe Muer restaurant land what happened with this it’s a good ideal .

There is a bike stop at Eastern Market at Wilkins with plenty of bike parking, a bike repair stand, and bathrooms. There may not be water lines in Dequindre Cut, which could help explain the lack of drinking fountains or bathrooms there.

Hi All,

I am from out of town, researching grazing cattle in Detroit. The triangle of Van Dyke, Lyford, and French Road looks promising. String 3 strand barbwire fence all around, and put in cattle guards at the street crossings, to let cars and people flow in and out, but not cattle. Put barbwire around the houses to protect them from the cattle.

About 25 yards east of Van Dyke, hiway 53, there is remnants of an alley, and apparently, that alley runs, more or less, all the way from 8 Mile Road to Jefferson.

Build a bike path along the route of that alley.

Getting across I-94 would require a serious bridge, not getting built for years, but in general, most of the route seems relatively clear. It becomes Bramford Street in the very north.

You would have to run along side Van Dyke by the cemetery, and once across the tracks, run next to the railroad tracks for a block or two.

Is that already in the works, or have I come up with something new?

Thanks, take care.

We generally shy away from building trails in alleys for a number of safety reasons: motorists do not stop at the alley intersections; they don’t cross major roads with a traffic signal; they’re unlit (and require new lighting); and there are few “eyes on the alley”. In this case, protected bike lanes on Van Dyke are the better option. They would also connect bicyclists to all the destinations along the road and provide additional buffered for pedestrians on the sidewalk.

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