Woodward Complete Streets planning comes to Detroit & Highland Park

June 17th, 2013

A Complete Streets planning project along the entire length of Woodward — River to Pontiac — has been setting up visiting parts of M1. For the next three days it will be focusing on Woodward from Jefferson to McNichols.

You can drop in to their pop-up offices at 2990 Grand Boulevard in the New Center from now until Wednesday at 7pm.

There are also a three free special events planned for tomorrow, June 18th:

  • 9am — A walkability audit starting at 2990 Grand Boulevard. If you’ve never been on a Dan Burden walkability audit, you don’t want to miss this. It will give you a newfound common-sense perspective on what works and what doesn’t in the walking environment.
  • 4pm — A second walkability audit starts at the old Ford Admin building on Woodward just north of the Model T Plaza.
  • 6pm — A biking audit start at the Hub of Detroit, 3535 Cass. Bring a bike we’ll tour Woodward discussing how to improve it for all cyclists.

There’s more information on the Transform website.

Woodward Complete Streets meeting on April 17th

April 9th, 2013

Woodward Complete Streets flyerThe Woodward Complete Streets planning project has been underway for months, but now it’s time to engage with residents and stakeholders.

To accomplish this, a series of five 3-day open houses are being announced along Woodward. The first is April 17th through the 19th with a focus on Woodward from McNichols (6 Mile Road) north through Ferndale.

The meeting location is the St. James Catholic Church at 241 Pearson Street at Woodward in Ferndale.

A special focus group meeting for cyclists is scheduled for April 17th at noon. Yes, lunch will be provided. This is your best bet to giving feedback on how to make Woodward more bicycle friendly.

If you can’t make this meeting, there are drop in hours:

  • April 17th from 9am until 5pm
  • April 18th from 12pm until 8pm
  • April 19th from 9am until 3pm

There’s also a walking audit with Dan Burden. We’ve been on many of his tours that are full of common sense traffic solutions. He strongly recommend you consider attending one of these.

More information is available on this Woodward Complete Streets flyer.

Detroit pursuing improved bike upgrades at Dorais Park

March 11th, 2013

Riding the Dorais velodrome in Detroit

One of those is the Farwell/Dorais Park. The city will be applying for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to match their $125,000 contribution.

As you may know, Dorais is home to an old concrete velodrome built by the Wolverine Cycling Club in 1969. The city was looking into options for restoring it. Dale Hughes came in to offer his advice. Hughes is an international expert on velodrome construction and his father-in-law, Mike Walden built the Dorais track.

His advice was it’s beyond repair. It would be easier to build a new one.

Why?

Water began seeping through some seams early on, which caused the sand base to erode. That erosion led to small cracks. When cars and motorcycles starting riding on the track, the cracks became far more substantial. The cracks are larger enough that one could not simply lay down a thin layer of blacktop.

Besides, the track has an irregular design. It was surveyed prior to grading but vandals removed half of the survey markers. With no time to redo the surveys, the north oval was made using an outstretched garden hose.

Despite the defect, this track still produced hundreds of national champions and even world champions.

But unfortunately the replacement cost far exceeds what the city can provide, not to mention the cost of programming the track. So, the city instead plans on doing some additional patchwork to fill some of the large, tire-sucking seams.

New Trails

The majority of funding would go towards a crushed stone trail around the park, a singletrack climb up Derby Hill, a multi-use, banked downhill, and more.

If you want to provide comments , you can this Wednesday at a public hearing or via writing the Recreation Department. The details are below: Read the rest of this entry »

Detroit bicycling in 1898: No other city compares

March 4th, 2013

1898 Detroit Official GuideWe recently purchased the Detroit Official Guide from 1898.

The city was growing then and it appears this guide was intended for newcomers. Most of the pages list “reliable merchants”, including sixteen bike shops around the downtown area, nine of them on Woodward Avenue.

Beyond the retailersr, bicycling has a prominent place in the guide. The appendix lists city officials first then bicycling information.

And it speaks very highly of Detroit’s cycling opportunities. Detroit and Brooklyn were America’s best cycling cities in 1898? We’d like to think so, but it could just be visitor’s guide boosterism.

From the Guide:

With perhaps the exception of Brooklyn, noted for its cycle paths, no other city in the country can compare with Detroit in the facilities which it offers for pleasant bicycle runs. The suburban runs are especially fine. Elsewhere mention has been made of the streets and avenues of the city, and they need only be referred to here in passing. Miles of excellent macadam extend in all directions leading to scenes of beauty and interest. The course around Belle Isle is famous but that is only one. In reaching the Island you ride past some of the finest homes in the country beneath a canopy of foliage of trees planted more that a century ago, on a perfect asphalt pavement. To write of the attractions of the various cycle paths would be to write a long story. Suffice it to merely point them out:

Going out Fort St. West, rides may visit Ecorse, 9 miles; Wyandotte, 12 miles, Trenton, 17 miles; Flat Rock, 25 miles.

Michigan Ave. — Dearborn, 10 miles; Inkster, 15 miles; Wayne, 18 miles; Canton, 23 miles; Denton’s, 26 miles; Ypsilanti, 30 miles; Ann Arbor, 38 miles.

Jefferson Ave. — Grosse Pointe, 10 miles; McSweeney’s Club, 24 miles.

Woodward Ave. — Highland Park, 5 miles; Whitewood, 7 miles; Royal Oak, 12 miles; Birmingham, 18 miles; Bloomfield Center, 21 miles; Pontiac, 28 miles; Drayton Plains, 31 miles; Waterford, 33 miles; Clarkston, 35 miles; Orchard Lake, 32 miles. The road out Woodward Avenue is always good.

Grand River Ave. — Greenfield, 8 miles; Farmington, 10 miles.

And the bicycling ordinances? There weren’t many. Remember there were no stop signs, traffic lights, one way streets, or expressways. To the 1898 cyclist, the condition of the road surface was the most important information needed for a productive ride.

Of course the ordinances were important as well — and they were quite simple. We especially like the ordinance permitting businesses to have bicycle racks.

From the Official Guide:

Read the rest of this entry »

A cycling perspective on Detroit’s EFM

March 3rd, 2013

Detroit EFMOn Friday, Governor Rick Snyder announced his plans to install an Emergency Finance Manager or EFM in the city of Detroit.

There are many varied opinions on this, but we’ll just look at it from a cycling and trails perspective just as we did with the earlier consent agreement.

The Mayor’s office and City Council have been very supportive of making the city more bike friendly and more walkable. There’s not another city in Metro Detroit that’s doing more. So from a high-level perspective, an EFM reduces their influence and could potentially derail some of this positive momentum.

Will that happen? Probably not.

The EFM will likely focus on general funding issues. Most of the bike and trail work is funded through grants, philanthropy, and the city’s road fund, which comes from the state and federal government. General funds are not used to build bike lanes or trails. The state and federal road funds cannot be spent on anything but transportation according to Michigan’s Constitution.

However, general funds are used to maintain city parks, through which some trails pass. Those park services were severely cut after the failed Belle Isle lease proposal. The park closure most directly affecting trails is Maheras-Gentry. The Conner Creek Greenway would remain open, but the park entrance maybe closed to motor vehicles.

According to the Detroit Free Press, public transit, lighting, and public safety are more likely to be affected. Certainly these all affect bicycling and walking as well. Deeper cuts to public transit could force more people to seek alternative travel options, like biking. And, Detroit surveys say that adequate lighting and public safety are key requirements for residents to walk and bike more, especially at night.

One area of concern is will key city employees seek other employment during this tumultuous time. Traffic Engineering recently lost two designers to other opportunities. At least one will be able to be rehired. But again, Traffic Engineering doesn’t rely on the general fund. Filling other vacant staff positions under an EFM might not be challenging.

There is one EFM rumor that we know is false. Detroit’s EFM will probably not be the young cyclist with training wheels shown on the Governor’s EFM brochure.

What are your thoughts?