Posts Tagged ‘Rochester Hills’

2012 Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund Grants

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

The 2012 recommendations for Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund grants have been announced. There were just five in Southeast Michigan.

  1. Macomb County – Shelby Township, Riverbends Park to Macomb Orchard Trail Connection - $300,000 – Development to include trail connection from Riverbends Park to Orchard Trail.
  2. Macomb County – City of New Baltimore, County Line Road non-Motorized Pedestrian Path – $116,000 – Development to include completing the remaining section of pathway on County Line Road from the Crapeau Creek to Main Street.
  3. Macomb County – City of Fraser, McKinley Barrier-Free Park Improvements – $300,000 – Development to include universally-accessible barrier-free parking lot, sidewalk, walking path, basketball court and site amenities.
  4. Washtenaw County – City of Ypsilanti, River’s Edge Linear Park and Trail Development – $300,000 – Development to include multi-use trail, plaza, fishing pier, river overlook, signage and site amenities.
  5. Wayne County – City of Dearborn, Rouge River Gateway Trail Extension – $280,000 – Development to include 1/4-mile trail extension of the Rouge River Gateway Trail to connect to Ford Field Park.

This information is just the overview so it’s not easy determining exactly what each project entails.

The first couple Macomb county grants are for their 70-mile loop. The Shelby Township portion is part of the critical trail connecting the Metro Parkway to the Macomb Orchard Trail, Clinton River Trail, and Paint Creek Trails.

Many years ago Riverbends Park and Bloomer Park were the Rochester-Utica State Park. There used to be an old wooden bridge across the Clinton River that connected the two portions of the state park near the Yates Cider Mill. Governor Engler sold the state park to the city of Rochester Hills and Shelby Township. With the bridge falling into disrepair, it was eventually removed.

We’d much prefer seeing a new bridge rather than a sidepath along Avon Road and an unsafe crossing at 23 Mile Road. However, we also recognize that the sidepath would be completely within Macomb County and that does make implementation more expedient.

Rouge Gateway Extension

The Dearborn grant is welcomed news. Getting to the Rouge Gateway Trail head at Andiamo’s is not easily accomplished by bicycle at this time. Connecting to Ford Field makes a great deal of sense. Of course, connecting the Rouge Gateway down to Fort Street makes even more sense but has a much bigger price tag.

Of course these grants are merely recommendations at this point. In the past, the Michigan legislation simply passed the recommendations without politicizing the process. That all changed last year, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Rochester Hills doesn’t have some basic traffic ordinances

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

This story started with a trip on the Clinton River Trail through Rochester Hills. The trail crosses Crooks Road midblock. There’s a stop sign for the trail users and a crosswalk, but no stop sign for road users.

There’s another sign for trail users: Cross traffic does not stop.

This is odd for two reasons. First, it’s not the intended use of this sign according to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). These signs are for two-way stops that users might mistake as four-way. That’s not the case here.

But secondly, road users are supposed to stop when a user is in the crosswalk. If you’re going to invest in signs, shouldn’t they tell the motorists to yield to those in the crosswalk?

Not in Rochester Hills

Most cities adopt the Uniform Traffic Code (UTC) in their city ordinances which includes a provision for motorists and other road users yielding to pedestrians.

Rochester Hills apparently forgot to include this. It appears as if it used to be in Article III of Chapter 98 according to one of the park ordinances. It’s not there now.

The Rochester Hills City Council did just update these ordinances and included the Michigan Vehicle Code, but they must have overlooked the Uniform Traffic Code. Or did they?

What does this mean?

In Michigan, the “rules of the road” have been divided between the Michigan Vehicle Code and the Uniform Traffic Code. Among many other rules, the Uniform Traffic Code includes:

  • Road users yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalks (Note that state law requires yielding to pedestrians and bicycles only when turning through a crosswalk.)
  • Prohibiting jaywalking and hitchhiking
  • Prohibiting littering on streets
  • Prohibiting driving on sidewalks
  • Requiring pedestrians to yield to vehicles outside of crosswalks
  • Requiring vehicle drivers to exercise due care around pedestrians, but especially children
  • Treating skateboarders, roller skaters, or in-line skaters as pedestrians and prohibiting them from roads

We’re not suggesting you try all these, but if you are struck by a car that fails to yield on a trail crossing in Rochester Hills, don’t expect city ordinances to help.

As for the rest of the Clinton River Trail, Auburn Hills, Pontiac, and Rochester have adopted the Uniform Traffic Code. Sylvan Lake has not.

Oakland University keeps pushing Wallmart bike sharing

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Oakland University in Rochester Hills is expanding their on-campus bike share program.

According to the Oakland Press:

The pink bikes purchased by the university this year are part of the Bike Share program that allows any student to ride one of the bikes from and to any part of the campus for free, said Greg Jordan, director of OU’s recreation center and the Bike Share program.

Students are on the honor system to keep the bikes on campus for the next student to pick up and go on his or her way.

Jordan said: “What I am proud of is that the students of OU have chosen to make this an honor system program,” from among the many kinds of bike programs on campuses throughout the country, such as rental or signing them in an out for a certain period.

Will it work? From what we’ve seen first-hand and read about elsewhere, this is an unsustainable approach. The unlocked bikes eventually get stolen or damaged.

As Joel Batterman commented on college honor system bike sharing when we first covered this story in 2009, “…typically only succeed at very isolated rural campuses.”

In addition, there is the issue of durability. The OU bikes are sold by Wallmart for $89. At that price they probably aren’t very durable for a single-owner when stored inside a garage.

This 26″ Women’s NEXT La Jolla Cruiser Bike is styled in a classic design, with an extra-low dropped top tube for maximum comfort. Its full aluminum frame reduces the weight to an incredible 28.5 lbs., and makes the 26″ NEXT women’s bike easy to handle… Play it safe! Always wear a helmet and safety pads when you ride.

OU’s Greg Jordan did tell the Oakland Press that “one of our challenges with the program is as heavily used as it is, is keeping up with maintenance and wear and tear on the bikes.”

What’s odd is these bicycle apparently do not have baskets or a rear rack for carrying items.

What about bike facilities?

OU’s roads are fairly poor for biking. They’re not Complete Streets. It seems investing in those while encouraging Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills to do the same would be a first step to increase bike commuting.

Michigan State University has been making those investments and building more bike lanes. They’re seeing big increases in bike commuting. They’ve received a Bicycle Friendly University award as well.

And MSU does rent (and even sell) bikes. Those renting do place a deposit on the bike and are responsible for their return. The bikes come with locks and can get free maintenance through MSU Bikes Service Center. Go Green!

Bike Share video from Oakland Press

Tienken Road plans ignore cyclist safety

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The Road Commission for Oakland County and the city of Rochester Hills are hosting a public meeting tomorrow night to discuss their Tienken Road improvement plans. It would be great to see some cyclists attend and provide comments.

Wednesday, July 21st, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Rochester Hills City Hall Auditorium

As m-bike readers know, the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) has a long history of ignoring the safety of bicyclists. They’ve continued that streak by failing to provide bike lanes in their Tienken Road plans.

We submitted comments to the RCOC a year ago regarding bike lanes on Tienken and provided justification. Those comments were never responded to and altogether ignored based on the latest Tienken Road Environmental Assessment which recommends three vehicular travel lanes and sidewalks.

No bikes lanes. No wide curb lanes. Not a Complete Street.

Our preferred option should be three 11-foot lanes with two five-foot bike lanes (or wider, buffered bike lanes.) That would be a Complete Street and support Safe routes to School.

Why 11-foot lanes? Studies show there is no safety advantage for having 12-foot lanes and they induce speeding.

Former Rochester Hills City Councilman Scot Beaton has gone even further with his suggestions and developed an alternative cross section that includes bike lanes. He’s left his comments at the end of this Oakland Press article.

We must also mention that the RCOC plans failed to include any discussion of bicycling safety despite the nearby parks, trails, and schools. Three has been three bicycling-vehicle crashes in this road corridor since 2006 — all three occurred on safety paths. RCOC’s response? Build more safety paths.

City of Rochester Hills guilty too

Just as the RCOC ignores AASHTO guidelines for bicycle facilities and best design practices, so too does the city of Rochester Hills — which helps explain why it is one of the least safe places to ride a bike in Oakland County based on crash data. Their “safety path” network does not meet AASHTO guidelines. In fact, John LaPlante, a primary author of the guidelines called the term “safety path” an oxymoron. LaPlante said the guidelines were clear that “safety paths” (or the correct term, sidepaths) are rarely an appropriate bicycle facility.

According to the Oakland Press, “Mayor Bryan Barnett said he’s happy with the outcome.”

It’s frustrating that cities like Rochester Hills and others (e.g. Oakland Township, Orion Township, West Bloomfield Township) refuse to follow the national design guidelines. It’s really up to cyclists to turn this around. Taxpayer dollars are being wasted on off-road bicycle facilities that would be much less expensive and safer on the road.

Friends of Tienken Road

And finally, it seems the Friends of Tienken Road are no fans of safe cycling or Complete Streets either. This is the group that fought against widening Tienken to five lanes.

We sent them emails with the regards to bike lane proposal, but they never responded. This is despite that fact that we helped them with their community outreach, paid for their web domain name, developed their web site, and provided free web hosting.

It seems their priority is in limiting the RCOC’s plan to three lanes of motor vehicle travel, rather than bicyclist safety (or responding to emails.)

Unable to attend?

According to the Free Press, “Those unable to attend the meeting may send concerns about the proposal in writing to the Road Commission for Oakland County, Permits and Environmental Concerns Department, 2420 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford 48328.”

Trust Fund recommends Metro area trail projects

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund announced their recommended projects to be funded for 2010.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board of Trustees on Wednesday recommended to Governor Jennifer M. Granholm that 67 recreation projects and land acquisitions totaling $35.7 million be funded in 2010. The board this year had considered 175 applications for development and acquisition projects totaling $108.3 million, which were competitively evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the Board.

“Our natural resources help set Michigan apart from other states, and the work of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has made it possible to protect and acquire some of our most scenic lands and unique natural areas,” Granholm said. “These recommendations will allow all who live in and visit our state to further enjoy Michigan’s magnificent natural and recreational areas.”

We’d recently mentioned this upcoming decision. We also didn’t understand why the Wixom/Walled Lake/Commerce Michigan Airline rail-trail project was not listed. The DNR ruled the project ineligible until it can prove it has the required matching funds. (The Trust Fund does not cover 100% of a project’s cost.) It’s expected that this project will be resubmitted for next year’s grant funding.

Here are the final recommendations for trail-related projects within the Seven-county region. (more…)