Posts Tagged ‘state parks’

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.

Citizen’s Committee receives state recognition

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Today the Michigan State Senate gave a Special Tribute to the Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee, which replaced the now-defunct Citizen’s Committee for Michigan State Parks. The latter was a victim of the DNR and DEQ department consolidation.

The Committee received the White Pine Award for Environmental Excellence for over five years of work to make our state parks better. This work culminated with the recent passage of the Recreation Passport.

The White Pine Award is actually a white pine — Michigan’s state tree — which will likely be planted in a Michigan state park. Senator Patricia Birkholz, Chair of the Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee presented the award and hinted that the tree could be planted in her district.

As a member of the committee, it was very rewarding getting this recognition on the Senate Floor. My Senator John Pappageorge was on hand and was a key supporter of the Recreation Passport. We spoke briefly about the recently passed texting-while-driving legislation. He said he helped push that those infractions to be a primary offense — something we certainly agree with.

– Todd Scott

(Photos by Lori Rhodes)

Tuesday roundup: Detroit biking in the media

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

First, NBC is in Detroit today for an upcoming national story which includes biking in Detroit. It is expected to air later this month….

Detroit on Two Wheels: Wheelhouse

A short article from Papermag gives some love to the Wheelhouse Detroit, which is now open for business.

Not every form of transportation in the Motor City requires an engine. Wheelhouse Detroit, a bicycle shop in downtown Detroit, that offers rentals, retail, and service. They also offer tours that help make little-known tourist gems more accessible in a city that is spread across many miles.

Detroiters Kelli Kavanaugh and Karen Gage opened Wheelhouse two years ago and they emphasize the ecological practices of their business, including the t-shirts and sustainable water bottles they sell. “Our store is an opportunity to get to talk to people about road safety and spread the word that cars need to share the road with riders,” said Gage, who also works as an urban planner in the city.

Real Detroit also ran a nice article on the shop.

Big plans for the future Detroit

The Detroit Free Press published a big article which compiles the various plans for Detroit — including the greenway and non-motorized plans.

The city plans to put up about 30 miles of bike lanes and more than 12 miles of routes designed for cyclists starting in September in southwest Detroit, near Wayne State and on the east side. The aim is a network of hundreds of miles of biking and walking paths connecting neighborhoods and attractions across the city.

There’s also updates on the RiverWalk and Midtown Loop. The Free Press did a find job creating a map showing bike lane projects planned for this year.

The same issue included an editorial.

For all its troubles today, Detroit is also a place brimming with hope for tomorrow.

When you assemble all the proposals, plans and dreams that have been advanced in recent months, the city of 2020 looks dramatically different than it looks today: smaller, smarter, greener, more mobile, with more job opportunities — and once again the pounding heart of a metropolitan region.

You see thousands of kids attending schools that work for them. You see people using light rail and boarding buses in a transit system that serves them. You see a gleaming, growing medical complex; banners being hoisted to the rafters of a new sports arena; and people tending little farms that nourish their neighborhoods in more ways than one. You see convention-goers strolling a crowded RiverWalk and bicyclists coasting the downhills of a new trail network.

Bicyclists coasting the downhills? It’s a nice thought, but with Detroit being built on a former lake bed, there aren’t going to be many downhills of note.

Michigan residents are winners under new state parks passport law

Howard Meyerson, a columnist with the Grand Rapids Press, has covered the state park funding situation for years. His latest column celebrates the passage of the Recreation Passport legislation. He also shined some light on those that opposed or at least delayed these bills.

It wasn’t an easy passage. The Chamber of Commerce and transportation lobby opposed it. Speaker of the House Andy Dillon held it up over the holidays, reportedly to help an old college buddy, now a transportation lobbyist.

But in the end, wiser heads prevailed.

Yes, wiser heads did prevail. The new payment system begins this October, so everyone will still need to purchase their 2010 Motor Vehicle Pass stickers.

Detroit was represented well at the 10th annual National Bike Summit in DC

And, Model D just published an article on the recent National Bike Summit. They referenced our review of the event. Thanks, Model D!

Granholm signs State Park funding bills

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Great news!

Shortly after 3pm today, Governor Jennifer Granholm signed the four state park funding bills — collectively known as the Recreation Passport — into law.

The Department of Natural Resources is now working on Question & Answer sheets that explain the effects of this new fundamental change in how our Michigan state parks as well as state forest recreation, are funded.

Senate passes State Park funding bills!

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The Michigan Senate passed the State Park funding bills today and sent them on their way to their final stop — the governor’s desk.

This morning Detroit News published an article on these bills prior to their passage:

“We have not had any general fund support for our parks for almost six years now, and in the meantime the infrastructure continues to deteriorate,” [Senator Patty] Birkholz said. “We’ve barely been able to keep up (with basic maintenance).

“This gives us a way to streamline how we operate our state parks, so that now we can have parks people that were in booths out working in the parks to improve them.”

The Governor is expected to sign the bill package.