This is not a new project. It started about seven or so years ago with the Greater Corktown Development Corporation and a grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The goal was to make the area more walkable and bikeable while connecting it to the future West RiverWalk.
But much has changed since then. Greater Corktown went through financial issues forcing them to hand off the project to the Southwest Business Development Association (SDBA). In taking over the project, the SDBA expanded it to include bike lanes along most of West Vernor, connecting it with their existing trail through Patton Park.
The project design also changed over time, shifting from having some off-road paths to simply bike lanes and bike routes. The latter are being employed on roads that are too narrow for bike lanes.
In the meantime, the wildly successful Tour de Troit has generated additional funds for the project to keep pushing it forward.
There’s one other piece. The city of Detroit applied for an MDOT grant to improve safety along a portion of West Vernor from Livernois to Waterman. As a result, the city is adding bike lanes along that one mile of Vernor. They’re also adding lighting beneath the viaduct just west of Livernois.
When completed, there will be 24 miles of new bike lanes and 11 miles of signed bike routes.
Building on this success, the city recently applied for seven safety grants and received six. The city is looking to add bike lanes to all six projects in 2012, which includes roads such as Central and West Chicago.
Bike parking, directional signs, and more
There are new bike racks being installed throughout the area by a handful of different groups. Have you seen the new cool bike racks at Clark Park? They’re across the street from Cafe con Leche.
Also, the SDBA is also looking at wayfinding — signs and maps that help guide bicyclists through the area. For example, a sign might provide bicyclists with direction and mileage on how to get to specific destinations like downtown, the RiverWalk, Roosevelt Park, and Patton Park. The posted mileage also reminds those who don’t bike just how close some places are — and that perhaps bicycling between them is easier than they may have thought.
This wayfinding project is looking to develop designs that can be used across the city, which would help keep signs more consistent.
Adventure Cycling should have their first of two maps completed this year for their Underground Railroad Bicycle Route through Detroit. That route has been located on West Vernor to take advantage of these bike lanes.
Now wouldn’t it be great if the West Vernor bike lanes could get you to the Rouge Gateway Trail and Hines Drive in Dearborn?