Posts Tagged ‘Madison Heights’

Southeast Oakland County bike summit

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

A bike summit is planned for this Wednesday, December 12th at 7 PM in the Royal Oak Public Library (222 E. 11 Mile Road.)

The purpose it to provide updates on efforts to improve biking in Southeast Oakland County, primarily Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights and Royal Oak. There will also be an update on a new bike route map some of us have been working on. The Road Commission for Oakland County will also share their recent Complete Streets report.

The Detroit Free Press has this article describing the summit as well as this interesting story from Huntington Woods.

In 2010, Berkley and Huntington Woods residents who live on 11 Mile Road rejected what could’ve been a bike-friendly narrowing of 11 Mile during repaving from Woodward to Coolidge.

“We thought it would improve everyone’s property value along there, to have one lane (of traffic) each way instead of two, but the residents didn’t want it,” Huntington Woods City Manager Alex Allie said.

A road diet on 11 Mile would have had no affect on vehicle congestion. Some people just don’t want improved property values, less speeding, reduced noise, safer streets and a more walkable, bikeable community.

This raises the question of why do we let those who live along a public road limit how safe it will be? Isn’t safety more important than the opinions of some residents?

Apparently not yet in some parts of Southeast Oakland County.

Gran Fondo

The Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) will also be at the summit to discuss their Complete Streets planning effort and proposed race/ride on Woodward.

The ride and race event is called the Gran Fondo, and while the WA3 boards, MDOT and others support it, Royal Oak’s city manager has come out strongly opposing it. The police chief opposed the ride because motorists speed on Woodward, will get road rage, and senior church goers will be confused.

Modeshift has excellent coverage of the recent Gran Fondo discussion before the Royal Oak City Commission.

Royal Oak’s bicycle ban

While the Royal Oak Commission did not vote on the Gran Fondo, they did move towards banning bicycle riding on downtown sidewalks. What the Commission failed to discuss is why cyclists ride on the sidewalk to begin with. Mayor Jim Ellison was quite certain it was only because they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to.

Apparenty Royal Oak Commissioners don’t ride bicycle much downtown. If they did they’d know that the city’s streets are not comfortable to ride for a majority of bicyclists. They feel safer on the sidewalks. If they made any investments to make more bike friendly streets in the downtown, it would draw cyclists off the sidewalks.

Instead the City is proposing they invest in signs banning bicycles. We estimate it will take about 40 signs or roughly $6,000 to properly sign the downtown per state law requirements.

And contrary to what was said at the recent Royal Oak Commission, without these signs, the city’s ban on bicycle riding is not enforceable.

One thought we’ll share at the summit is these Southeast Oakland County communities are relatively more progressive than many of the other neighboring communities, but they’re much less progressive compared with the city of Detroit. For as much attention Detroit gets for having a “broken government” they are consistently more supportive and committed when it comes to being bike friendly.

Metro Detroit biking: City vs. the suburbs

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

It’s an easy opinion to find on bike forums: Detroit is bad for cycling. Those opinions are usually based on cyclists who ride in the suburbs or exurbs where poor street planning, cul-de-sacs and sprawl means they’re forced to ride on busy arterial roads which don’t have bike lanes.

But it’s simply not correct to label all Metro Detroit as bad. Our cycling condition is far from homogeneous.

The city of Detroit riding is some of the best cycling in America: mostly complete street grids, low speeds, very light traffic — and now many miles of bike lanes.

Some of the inner ring suburbs designed during the streetcar era aren’t too bad or at least have good potential. That includes the suburban cities like Dearborn, Royal Oak, Birmingham, Berkley and the Pointes.

Beyond that, yeah, the cycling can get pretty rough. Cities like Novi and Ferndale have shown leadership on improving cycling opportunities. Royal Oak, Berkley, and Birmingham are coming along, but we don’t see many others following them – at least not yet.

Worse still, some communities have talked the talk on Complete Streets but are not committed to building them. They just don’t see bicycles as transportation and they’re willing to redefine Complete Streets as the status quo with improved crosswalks.

Still, it’s not just about building Complete Streets. A much bigger issue is land use. Sprawl hurts cycling and kills walking as transportation modes. There’s a real vacuum of regional leadership on that issue.

Suburban sense of entitlement

One other difference we’ve seen is the suburban sense of entitlement. Entitlement to the entire road, that is. Getting brushed by motorists and yelled at is a common story shared by many suburban cyclists.

And one of our favorite blogs, Bikes, Books, and a Little Music seems to share this viewpoint after their first ride in the suburbs.

In Detroit, drivers gave me lots of room when passing by and never yelled at me. In the suburbs, the drivers were much more aggressive, many times forcing me to the curb. During my first week of riding, two suburban drivers yelled at me to get out of the street and get on the sidewalk where I belong!

As I soon found out, there is a difference between city and suburban riding. For me, Detroit is a much more interesting place to ride.

Moving from Madison Heights

Here’s another related story of a former Madison Heights city councilman moving to the city of Detroit. This is less about the infrastructure than the culture.

Another roommate worked at the Hub of Detroit, so getting a bicycle was a first priority upon moving in. The bicycle culture here in the city is larger than I had imagined. From Critical Mass to Tour De Troit, to the Bikes and Murder Slow Ride to Slow Jams, to the Full Moon bike ride from Fender Bender, there is not a lack of people who are willing to take a ride on a nice day (or a rainy/snowy one!)

Troy loves sidewalk biking

For some cities, it’s difficult harboring any hope that they’ll ever value safe biking. For us, Troy is one of those cities.

The latest proof? The city of Troy touts their 500 miles of sidewalks… for bicyclists.

A community with sidewalks enables residents to walk and ride bikes. There is a clear correlation between a sedentary lifestyle and poor health. Thus sidewalks make walking & biking a viable option. Bike route signs are placed throughout the City.

Sidewalks are not a viable option for most bicyclists according to the national design guidelines nor their own non-motorized plan, which the Troy City Council paid for but never approved and is not implementing.

Unfortunately we’ve seen many local biking “experts” label this region based on their experience in cities like Troy.

Fortunately, they’re not correct.

Economic Stimulus + Biking in Michigan

Friday, February 13th, 2009

The differing House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill were resolved yesterday. It’s expected that the new bill will be voted on today and signed by the President on Monday.

This final bill allocates $29 billion in transportation funding. That’s about how much the federal government allocates during a normal year. How much of that goes to Michigan and how much could be spent on non-motorized facilities is apparently unknown as of now.

We do know that the MDOT Metro Region put reconstruction of the entire I-275 bikepath on their stimulus project list. How huge would that be?

The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance and other advocates have been working with the City of Detroit to get non-motorized projects in the city’s stimulus list. Dan Cherrin, Mayor Cockrel’s spokesman told the the Michigan Messenger that the city wants to see “bike paths” built with stimulus money. Bike paths could include many of Detroit’s greenway projects as well as the non-motorized plan’s 400-mile bike lane network.

There are also other local bike and trail related projects in the stimulus wish list compiled by the Michigan Municipal League:

  • Birmingham – Completion of a renovation of partially existing trail network, $2 million
  • Canton – Construction of five pedestrian bridges over the Rouge River providing interconnection of community pathway, $700,000
  • Madison Heights – Red Oaks Bikepath, $600,000
  • Novi – Improvement of I-275 non-motorized pathway from I696 to Wayne Co, $ 467,000
  • Novi – New bike path along M-5 from south of 12 Mile Rd to Pontiac Trail, $ 1,250,000
  • Rochester – Paint Creek Trail, $ 300,000
  • Royal Oak – Non-Motorized Tranportation Plan, $40,000

What’s not clear is how Novi’s two requests fit with MDOT’s for the I-275 bikepath.

We should know more about what gets funded as this process continues to lumber along.