Posts Tagged ‘bike lanes’

The $1 billion Bloody Run Creek Greenway project

Monday, February 18th, 2013

BloodyRunIt’s been talked about for decades, but these conceptual plans makes the Bloody Run Greenway seem slightly more possible.

And yes, it does have a $1 billion total price tag. However, breaking the project into smaller phases makes it a bit more palatable.

Besides, how amazing would it be to have a creek running next to the Dequindre Cut?

Or a waterfall next to the shipping container hotel proposed for the Cut?

Are the recent demolitions east of Eastern Market related? We’re not sure, but both the demolitions and the Bloody Run project have Kresge Foundation funding.

Dequindre Cut Extension

While we don’t have any recent updates on the Dequindre Cut extension, the project must be out to bid by July of this year. We have seen the construction drawings and it looks phenomenal.

Keep in mind that this project will:

  • Extend the Cut under Gratiot and on to Mack Avenue
  • Add bike lanes from end of the Cut to Hamtramck
  • Add an Eastern Market connector trail just north of Wilkins
  • Add bike lanes and sidewalks from Eastern Market to Midtown
  • Add bike parking in Eastern Market

If Hamtramck receives grant funding this spring, they could build their bike network by next summer.

Current the Dequindre Cut is mostly undeveloped except for a rail car spur. That has been captured in this movie by Michelle Andonian entitled “The Cut.” That’s a living project that will evolve as the trail does.

 

A Cycling perspective on the Belle Isle agreement

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

There’s been a great deal of media coverage on a proposed agreement between the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan to make Belle Isle a state park.

Based on what we know right now, how would such a lease affect bicyclists?

Here are some changes we’ve seen in based on the proposed Belle Isle lease agreement.

  • Belle Isle would remain free if you rode your bike onto the island or brought your bike via a re-established DDOT bus route.
  • If you bring your bike onto Belle Isle using a motor vehicle, you will need to have a $10 annual Recreation Passport starting in April 2013.
  • Six to 12 months after signing the lease, the DNR would meet with MDOT to convert some internal roads on the east end of the island into two-way trails — a concept the current park manager has already put forth.
  • MDOT will assume maintenance on all park roads.

The existing asphalt paths and bathroom facilities would also be improved under the DNR.

One major concern we have is MDOT’s commitment. We want these roads improved, not just maintained. These roads should be made into Complete Streets.

  • We need sidewalks on many of the roads. Without them, people have little option but to walk in the bike lane.
  • The two bike lane cross over points at the entrance to the island need to be improved.
  • The MacArthur Bridge doesn’t require five vehicle travel lanes. We would like one lane removed, the bike lanes widened, and a buffer zone added.
  • The connection between E. Jefferson and the bridge needs to be improved for cyclists. While the entire intersection needs a redesign, that responsibility would remain with the City.

The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance has submitted comments to Detroit City Council that suggest a change to the proposed lease — MDOT should commit to “preserving” these roads, which would include the above ideas and more.

This is a 30-year lease with two 30-year renewals. If this lease goes forward, do we want these roads only maintained as they are for the next 90 years?

MDOT has a greater commitment to state trunklines within the city of Detroit. The roads on Belle Isle should be given that same level of commitment.

MDOT adds buffered bike lanes to Northwestern Highway

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

MDOT was resurfacing Northwestern Highway this year and did something quite unexpected. They converted the road’s 12 foot paved shoulders to buffered bike lanes.

Originally this road from Inkster to 14 Mile had a 12 foot asphalt shoulder. That shoulder is now a 7 foot bike lanes with a 5 foot painted buffer. Is it ideal for families? Of course not, but many cyclists will find it a comfortable and safe place to ride in spite of the road’s 50 MPH speed limit.

We’ve encouraged MDOT to pursue similar designs on other state roads, but especially in Detroit where there are lower vehicle traffic and under-utilized vehicle travel lanes.

Also, we submitted the new bike lane information to Google Maps for approval.

Why Northwestern Highway?

As we see it, these bike lanes came about for three reasons.

First, the state’s Complete Streets policy encourages MDOT to add biking facilities to its roads.

Second, area cyclists were riding this road segments and had written to MDOT asking for an improved signs to better accommodate cycling. Well, MDOT did better than that. The key was letting MDOT know cyclists were already using Northwestern Highway. This provided documented justification for making the improvement.

Third, there was already a wide, paved shoulder. That made this retrofit very cost effective. The total cost was $21,855 on what was likely a million-some dollar project.

News Coverage

MyFoxDetroit covered this story as part of a segment on bicycling safety. Their story includes a video showing the new lanes.

GREEN plan for Detroit’s East Riverfront

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

After about 18 months of planning and community engagement, the GREEN plan was revealed, a plan for greenways throughout the Detroit’s lower eastside.

The GREEN Task Force, a coalition of Detroit-based non-profit groups, presents to you a vision and a realistic plan for creating a network of greenways on Detroit’s greater riverfront east. Just as greenways serve many functions – from recreational venues to economic linkages between neighborhoods – this report also aims at many goals. This plan serves as a catalyst for:

    • Economic development
    • A tool for bringing communities together
    • A way of defining a new future for Detroit’s greater riverfront east

Modeshift covered this story a couple weeks ago.

“It’s evident things like greenways and bike lanes are good for community development,” [Villages CDC executive director Brian] Hurttienne says. “Otherwise we wouldn’t spend the money we do.”

“Greenways provide much more than ways to get somewhere without a car,” says Maggie DeSantis, chair of the GREEN Task Force and board member of the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative. “Greenways improve health and safety by creating recreational venues, beautifying neighborhoods, creating nodes of economic development, and by connecting neighborhoods and residents to each other, and to the broader city.”

Since the unveiling, the GREEN task force has been presenting this plan to many different groups and exploring funding options.

And some of the routes are closer to implementation than others.

  • The city has initial plans to add bike lanes to this segment of Kercheval next year.
  • The East Jefferson Corridor Collaborative continues their efforts for bike lanes on E. Jefferson. They are focusing on the roadway between Belle Isle’s bridge and Indian Village. They have a few different design options, two of which are physically-separated bike lanes, also known as cycletracks. They are currently doing a traffic study to ensure the required road diet would not be a roadblock.

The project furthest from implementation is likely the Detroit RiverWalk extension to Alter Road. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is focusing on completing the eastern portion of the existing RiverWalk before shifting resources to the western portion between Joe Louis Arena and Riverside Park/Ambassador Bridge.

Courts reduce road agency liability

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

It’s already difficult to sue road agencies under state law for the quality of the road beneath your tires.

MCL 691.1402 GOVERNMENTAL LIABILITY FOR NEGLIGENCE

Each governmental agency having jurisdiction over a highway shall maintain the highway in reasonable repair so that it is reasonably safe and convenient for public travel. A person who sustains bodily injury or damage to his or her property by reason of failure of a governmental agency to keep a highway under its jurisdiction in reasonable repair and in a condition reasonably safe and fit for travel may recover the damages suffered by him or her from the governmental agency. The liability, procedure, and remedy as to county roads under the jurisdiction of a county road commission shall be as provided in section 21 of chapter IV of 1909 PA 283, MCL 224.21. Except as provided in section 2a, the duty of a governmental agency to repair and maintain highways, and the liability for that duty, extends only to the improved portion of the highway designed for vehicular travel and does not include sidewalks, trailways, crosswalks, or any other installation outside of the improved portion of the highway designed for vehicular travel. A judgment against the state based on a claim arising under this section from acts or omissions of the state transportation department is payable only from restricted funds appropriated to the state transportation department or funds provided by its insurer.

Remember that in Michigan bicycles are not vehicles, therefore road agencies can’t be sued for defects in bike lanes or on paved shoulders.

That’s both good and bad. It’s good for countering road agencies arguments that bike lanes raise their liability. They don’t. In fact, they can reduce it. That’s not our opinion. That’s the opinion of the Michigan State Attorney General’s office.

The bad part is this lack of liability removes a motivating factor for keeping them well maintained. Then again, the roads aren’t in all that great a shape either.

Gravel doesn’t count

Last week the Michigan Supreme Court clarified the road liability a little more. They said the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) could not be sued for gravel that accumulated on a road. That gravel allegedly caused a motorcycle crash.

From the Spinal Column:

“Basically the law states that a defect must be in the traveled portion of the road and the higher courts interpretation is that it must be in the road bed itself and the gravel was simply a dusting on the surface of the road that you would see anywhere on a daily basis,” [RCOC attorney Paula] Reeves explained.

Michigan law established that if snow and ice are on a roadway, the RCOC is not liable for any damages. Subsequently the Supreme Court last week issued an opinion stating under Michigan Law the agency is not culpable in this incident since RCOC is responsible for keeping the roadway in “reasonable repair,” and loose gravel on a roadway does not fall under this definition.

“The courts took this logic and extended the law to apply to gravel,” Reeves noted.

This ruling could likely be applied to a bicyclist crashing on gravel in a vehicle travel lane.

Again, this is good and bad for the same reasons mentioned earlier.

However, if reducing the liability means more bike lanes, we’ll take it.

We’ll deal with the occasional gravel.