Posts Tagged ‘Carl Levin’

Is Governor Snyder’s Belle Isle to Wisconsin Trail for bikes?

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Last November, Governor Rick Snyder lauded Michigan trails during a speech called “Ensuring our Future: Energy and the Environment.”
Belle Isle to Wisconsin Trail

Michigan has more total trail miles than just about any other state. Much of the credit goes to volunteers who have shoveled, raked, trimmed and groomed these trails on their own time and often at their own expense. This shows the real appetite Michiganders have for quality trails, and points to the opportunity we have to be the number one trail state.

We can reach that goal much faster together. I am directing the DNR, Michigan Snowmobile and Trail Advisory Committee, Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the MEDC, the MDARD and the MDOT to align and prioritize their efforts to support and create trail connections. All these entities will reach out to local communities as partners, helping them to maximize the economic return from trail use. We can and will seek to make Michigan the Trail State.

He then committed to a new long distance trail.

As the Trail State, we will need a showcase trail that celebrates these efforts and pulls together private and public trails into a signature Pure Michigan experience. With the addition of approximately 200 miles of additional trails in the Lower Peninsula and the UP, we could hike or bike from Belle Isle to the Wisconsin border. Today, I am directing DNR to focus on connecting those trails, through cooperation with private and non-profit partners and the use of their own resources.

The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance (MTGA) helped with the trail routing — primarily bike lanes and sidewalks — through the city of Detroit and further north.

What’s odd is that the Midland to Mackinaw Trail is not fully open to bicycles. The same is true for some parts of the North Country National Scenic Trail which is used across the Upper Peninsula. The parts of that trail along Pictured Rocks and in the Ottawa National Forest are not open to bikes.

Reading the Governor’s text, it appears the trail should be open bikes.

What’s interesting is the latest State Trails Plan calls this trail a hiking trail. Certainly not all hiking trails are hiking-only trails, but it does make one wonder if the intended trail usages have changed since the original announcement.

We’ll trying to find an answer.

Continue the trail to Canada

The Governor has been a vocal champion of the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor.

To us, it makes perfect sense that his proposed trail get extended to the new bridge and connect with Canada. This is another reason why we need bike and pedestrian access on this bridge.

In an informal conversation with the Governor, he seemed supportive of having this access on the bridge. In a followup email, he recognized that the approved plans do support bikes and pedestrians, but they also say it is up to U.S. and Canadian border security to approve it.

MTGA contacted Senator Carl Levin for assistance in working with Homeland Security. The Senator wrote Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security in support of bike and pedestrian access on the bridge.

“There are many benefits of a year-round cycling connection between Detroit and Windsor, including by bolstering the cycle tourism in the region.”

This support is already helping to legitimize the importance of this issue on both sides of the border — and we look forward to more positive news in the coming months.

Better for biking: Republican or Democrat?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

We were recently asked which party is better for bicycling. As you might guess, the answer is “it depends.”

Generally speaking, over the past decade, Democrats have been more supportive of bicycling at the state and federal levels. ?At the National Bike Summit in DC, you can usually count on a friendly welcome with Senator Carl Levin or Congressman Gary Peters.

There certainly are Republican exceptions, of course.

Governor Rick Snyder seems to be a strong supporter of cycling. He seems to recognize it’s value from a tourism aspect as well as a means for attracting and retaining young adults. We’ll probably know more as he fleshes out his urban agenda over the coming months.

But perhaps an even bigger Republican bicycle supporter is U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. He’s really moved the conversation forward, tied it to livability, ?and given us “equal footing” in Washington DC. He vowed to retire as Secretary at the end of this presidential term, so it remains to be seen how his replacement will far. We’ve heard at least one very interesting rumor so far.

One thought to keep in mind is some Republican politicians support bicycling but are unwilling to support it at a federal or state level. I’ve heard it before that a politician supports bicycling but doesn’t think the federal government has a role. Or they are a supporter but not enough of one to buck the party vote. We’ve seen that too in Michigan.

So given the recent election results, we’re hopeful to see continued support for better, safer bicycling at the state and federal levels. It won’t be easy, but we could have been moving in a much more challenging direction.

We should also mention that the failure of State Proposal 6 decreases the potential headaches while building a new bridge to Canada, one that has bicycle access.

Bike and Pedestrian funding survives — again!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Senators Levin and Stabenow escort Transportation Secretary LaHood on the RiverWalk, a project that has received Enhancements funding.

The U.S. Senate just voted 38 to 60 which preserves critical federal funding called Transportation Enhancements.

Enhancements are the primary funding source for bike and pedestrian projects. Had we lost this funding, it would have devastated our efforts to make Detroit and all of Michigan more bike-friendly.

The run up to this vote was colorful. Senator Rand Paul played up America’s failing bridges while decrying wasteful Enhancements spending. The only problem? The Associated Press researched his claims and found them to be “exaggerated and misrepresented” according to the article, FACT CHECK: GOP lawmakers spin funding tall tales.

Both Michigan Senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, voted to continue this funding.

Thanks to everyone who contacted their senators prior to today’s vote.

When we contacted Senator Stabenow regarding this issue, she provided this positive response:

Thank you for contacting me about federal funding for pedestrian and bicycle trails. I share your concerns.

Michigan’s lush natural resources and unique landscapes present many opportunities for residents and visitors to make use of our bike paths, hiking trails and other non-motorized pathways. These areas not only provide recreational enjoyment for Michigan residents, but also attract much-needed tourism and economic activity to our state.

In the past, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has introduced legislation that would require most federally funded transportation projects to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users. If related legislation should come before me for a vote, I will be sure to keep your views in mind.

The Harkin bill she mentions is for Complete Streets.

Woodward Corridor lands huge Complete Streets grant

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Here’s some exciting news about Woodward that has nothing to do with the Dream Cruise.

Senator Carl Levin’s office and the Federal Highway Administration just announced a $752,880 grant for “developing a Complete Streets plan for Michigan’s 27-mile Woodward Avenue corridor that connects 11 communities and two Southeast Michigan Counties.”

“Transportation investments like these will create jobs and improve the quality of life for Michigan residents as well as strengthen the state’s economy,” said Secretary [U.S. DOT Secretary Ray] LaHood. “The demand from the states for these funds shows just how critical the need is for infrastructure investment.”

The funding is being awarded to the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) who will be releasing more details soon.

WA3 has been a big supporter of Complete Streets and they are members of the Detroit Complete Streets Workgroup.

It will be interesting to see how this new planning effort fits with some prior Woodward bike/walk plans, the forthcoming Royal Oak non-motorized plan, and the Woodward Light Rail project.

But as for the Dream Cruise, there is a Complete Streets connection. The best way to move within the Woodward Corridor during the Cruise is on foot or by bike. Making Woodwared a Complete Street could give better, safer, and faster transportation options during the event.

Complete Streets Resolution passes

And in related news, Oakland County Commissioners passed a Complete Streets resolution for the county.

Special thanks to everyone who contacted their commissioner. It worked.


National Bike Summit: a Detroit perspective

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The 10th National Bike Summit in Washington DC was last week. This three day event was a great opportunity to learn the latest on bike advocacy issues, lobby Congress, and network with peers.

I was attending this wearing a two main MTGA hats: Detroit Greenways Coordinator and Michigan Airline Trail Ambassador.

My highlight was Thursday morning. We had a group breakfast for last minute legislative updates and some cheerleading prior to our Congressional office visits. I was waiting behind this older gentleman for coffee. Being a bit impatient, I asked if I could cut in front. He poured my coffee and I said “Thanks”. It was then that I realized Congressman James Oberstar — one of the key bike supporters in DC and chair of the House Transportation committee — had just poured my coffee.

It was going to be a great day!