City of Detroit bike project updates

Corktown/Mexicantown Greenlink

The Greater Corktown Development Corporation spearheaded this Greenlink plan that would make Detroit’s Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods some of the most bike friendly places in Michigan. Among other bike facilities, the plans include about 20 miles of bike lanes. The Tour-de-Troit has been raising money for this project for some time as well.

However, the Greater Corktown Development Corporation has suffered financial issues as reported by Crain’s Detroit Business, but the project is moving forward.

To continue work on the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink project to connect those communities to Detroit’s west riverfront, Greater Corktown has secured an agreement from Southwest Detroit Business Association to serve as the new fiduciary for the greenlink, a project it’s worked on for over five years.

SDBA is working with Greater Corktown, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan to combine as one project the greenlink, the Southwest Detroit/East Dearborn Greenway it’s been shepherding, and other walkway and bike path work the city has planned for west Vernor, said Kathleen Wendler, president of the business association.

“I like to think of it as SDBA adopting the infant we took care of for some time but are currently unable to raise,” said Kavanaugh, a freelance writer and co-owner of Wheelhouse Detroit Bike Shop.

Yesterday at Councilmember Ken Cockrel’s Green Task Force, Detroit Traffic Engineering said they still hope this project can begin by the end of this construction season. Detroit’s W. Vernor project (from Waterman to Lansing Street) is expected to be done this year — which also includes bike lanes and improvements to that unlit (and nearly unpaved!) railroad underpass west of Livernois.

Once these three projects are completed, there will be bike lanes all along W. Vernor. This will greatly improve access to the amazing restaurants and bakeries in Southwest Detroit — an unbeatable fueling station for cyclists.

Villages CDC Planning & Bike Ambassadors

Model D is reporting on a recent grant awarded to the Villages CDC which include non-motorized planning.

The Villages CDC has been awarded $215,000 from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan for greenways and bike lane planning and design. The money will also be used for community outreach and construction documents. Villages board member Kim Clayson hopes to complete this pre-development phase by February of next year.

While details are yet to be worked out, The Villages hopes to link its community up with other existing and planned greenways in Detroit, including the Dequindre Cut, Detroit RiverWalk and Conner Creek Greenway. Partners will include the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Creekside CDC, Jefferson East Business Association and Gleaners, since the agency is preliminarily planning a connection from its food bank to the Riverwalk.

Regarding the Gleaner’s Food Bank, they too received a grant for a feasibility study. That study will look at converting the abandoned railroad east of Beaufait into a trail. That railroad property runs from the Uniroyal site on the Detroit River (just west of the bridge) to Gratiot. This potential trail would also connect with the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and their Earthworks Farm.

The Villages CDC grant is also funding the development of a bike ambassador strategy for Detroit. The Active Transportation Alliance out of Chicago will be working with local stakeholders to develop this strategy based upon their successful program in Chicago: Mayor Daley’s Bicycling Ambassadors.

Mayor Daley’s Bicycling Ambassadors work toward the following objectives:

  • to increase the number of trips made by bicycle
  • to reduce the number of bicycle-related injuries
  • to help all users – bike riders, motorists, and pedestrians – better share roads and off-street trails.

To accomplish these goals, the Ambassadors appear at events throughout Chicago to reach as many Chicagoans as possible with bicycle safety education. Ambassadors talk face-to-face with Chicagoans and give presentations to kids, teens, and adults by participating in community events.

There are also Junior Ambassadors who “work with the Bicycling Ambassadors to deliver bicycle safety messages to their peers.”

There would certainly be many benefits having a similar program in Detroit, and thankfully the Villages CDC and the Community Foundation are planting that seed.

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