Posts Tagged ‘GM’

Faye Nelson: Leading the RiverWalk effort

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Continuing the topic of woman leading biking and walking improvements, BLAC Detroit magazine has this article on the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy‘s director, Faye Nelson.

One most impressive aspects of the RiverWalk is its public-private partnership model. We wouldn’t be able to bike or walk along much of the river if not for the Kresge Foundation, General Motors, DNR, MDOT, and many others. This is touched on during Nelson’s interview.

How do you respond to people who feel the focus on the riverfront is at the expense of other parts of the city?

No city tax dollars have been used. The Conservancy is a non-profit that has formed a public / private partnership. Private partnerships include the Kresge Foundation and its $50 million grant. There is the public collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources for Milliken State Park and Harbor, just to the west of Chene Park, the first urban state park in Michigan. Then there are the corporate contributions, like General Motors that spent $500 million renovating the Ren Cen, including building a riverfront plaza that it then donated to the Conservancy.

There is research showing the RiverFront is attracting people downtown, and they spend money downtown. Development is attracted to downtown by the RiverFront. We’re proud to say this project is helping to revitalize and sustain the entire city.

There is a minor downside to being so successful in getting private funding for biking and walking trails. When groups like the Alliance for Biking and Walking compile funding numbers to compare cities, they ignore private funding. That $50 million Kresge RiverWalk investment? General Motor’s $25 million RiverWalk investment? The Alliance purposely does not include that funding in their report and it makes Detroit look bad. That’s just one reason why groups like MTGA and others have declined to participate in their future reports.

GM backpedals on negative cycling ad

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Cycling attracts anti-car zealots who love ripping on Detroit automakers. It’s often unjustified, but not this time.

Until today, GM was running a series of pathetic ads that mocked cycling, walking, and public transit.

After some negative publicity on BikePortland, the League of American Bicyclists, via Twitter, and GM’s facebook page, the cycling ad was pulled with an apology according to the LA Times.

General Motors Co. is killing an advertisement aimed at college students after receiving complaints that it makes fun of people who use bicycles for transportation.

That ad has a headline stating, “reality sucks” and depicts a nerdy looking guy wearing a helmet and riding a bicycle being passed by a cute young woman in the passenger seat of a car. It then goes on to say, “Stop pedaling… start driving” and provides information about discount pricing for GM products such as the new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic subcompact sedan and the giant GMC Sierra 1500 truck.

“The content of the ad was developed with college students and was meant to be a bit cheeky and humorous and not meant to offend anybody,” said Tom Henderson, a GM spokesman.

“We have gotten feedback and we are listening and there are changes underway. They will be taking the bicycle ad out of the rotation… We respect bikers and many of us here are cyclists,” he said.

It seems GM has not pulled the other ads in the series.

One thought for repentence: putting a bike on the RenCen during next year’s Tour de Troit or Bike to Work Day.

Detroit Bike Shorts for June 7th

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Here are various bike-related updates from around the state and Metro Detroit area —

Model D Speaker Series: Urban Mobility

If you missed this event, don’t worry. Jason Rzucidlo has a nice writeup with photos.

Of course, Model D also covered the event.

Marja Winters, deputy director of the city’s Planning and Development department, said non-motorized transit options are an essential component to the mayor’s Detroit Works Project. Credit the growing movement across the country to urban areas, often for the diversity of options a city affords. “The quality of place is becoming the number one determining factor,” she said. “And ranking high in the decision-making process is the notion of alternative forms of transit.”

We probably would not have heard similar quotes from Detroit’s planning department just a few years ago. This really signals the great deal of progress and increased awareness that has happened during that time.

Bicycle Friendly State rankings

Michigan continues to drop in the state rankings developed by the League of American Bicyclists. The Mitten state is now ranked 22nd and was given a “D”.

This 10 spot drop since 2008 is likely attributable to new ranking criteria and the lack of progress in key areas — progress that other states have made. Michigan received an “F” score in the categories of Infrastructure, Evaluation & Planning, and Enforcement.

Ride challenge for MDOT Director

With the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood biking to work yesterday, we suggested MDOT’s Director Kirk Steudle could do the same via Twitter.

@michigandot OK Director Steudle. You’re next and please post pics  http://t.co/hVNYoFs

MDOT responded with “I forwarded your tweet to Dir. Steudle to let him know. Thanks! ”

GM’s Akerson calls for fuel tax increase

The unwillingness in Washington DC and Lansing to increase fuel taxes has helped led to a transportation funding crisis. (Yeah, sprawl and the lack of regional planning in Metro Detroit are factors as well.)

Bill Ford Jr. has previously advocated for a fuel tax increase. Now, so to has GM’s CEO Dan Akerson according to this Detroit News article.

A government-imposed tax hike, Akerson believes, will prompt more people to buy small cars and do more good for the environment than forcing automakers to comply with higher gas-mileage standards.

“You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas,” Akerson said.

“People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans.”

An increased fuel tax can also encourage more people to bike, walk, and use public transit, while providing improved funding.

I-275 Metro Trail

There was a reopening ceremony for a portion of the I-275 bike path on Saturday. We weren’t there, but the Detroit Free Press was. The I-275 path will continue to be expanded northward as the southern portion is rebuilt and reopened. You can stray up to date with the progress by visiting the Friends of the I-275 Pathway on Facebook.

Michigan Airlines Rail-Trail

The Spinal Column is reporting that the Surface Transportation Board has denied a quick abandonment for the rail corridor that many hope will soon become a trail.

STB board members denied Michigan Air-Line Railway’s petition because it didn’t “provide the Board with sufficient evidence regarding the revenues and costs associated with the line, thereby making it impossible to determine what burden, if any, (Michigan Air-Line) Railway incurs in continuing to operate the line.”

Nevertheless, Michigan Air-Line Railway still hopes to get the STB’s approval to abandon the railroad, therefore allowing the trail project to move forward.

“We’re still moving forward with the grant applications,” said Commerce Township Planner Kathleen Jackson. “The NRTF board doesn’t make the grant decision until December, and (Michigan Air-Line Railway) hopes to have an answer by then.”

We do hope this gets resolved prior to the Natural Resource Trust Fund grant decision is made in December. This is the third attempt at getting this grant which will help pay for most of the property.

Road of Tomorrow wasn’t a Complete Street

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

The Henry Ford has been uploading archived footage from their collection to YouTube. Their most recent upload was from the 1940 New York World’s Fair. It shows their “Road of Tomorrow” which looks more like an elevated expressway, though the cars are going quite slowly. Ford was certainly pitching the idea of more car-only roads.

This is the same World’s Fair where GM unveiled Futurama, a more elaborate model for highways in America.

GM also documented their exhibit through this gem from Jam Handy: