Posts Tagged ‘Windsor’

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.

Bicycling between Detroit and Windsor by bridge & ferry

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The push continues for a means of getting bicyclists between Detroit and Windsor. The two preferred routes are a planned ferry service and the new bridge.

On September 14th, cycling advocates from Windsor and Detroit helped kick off a Share the Bridge campaign. Their focus is to ensure bike access on the New International Trading Crossing (NITC) being promoted by Canada, the state of Michigan, and others. According to Member of Parliament Brian Masse:

“People want the new crossing to be an asset for the community as well as for the North American economy. By investing in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure on the new crossing we will create a signature feature that can have economic, environmental and cultural benefits for the region.”

A press conference was held along the Windsor side of the Detroit River. Masse led the event where he stressed the need for cycling advocates to make this happen. An excellent video from the event has been uploaded with this quote from Masse:

“We get one chance at this border crossing to do it right, and we don’t want to be like the other communities out there that are having to fight to go back and rework things.”

State Representative Rashida Tlaib of Detroit was also there with many other political and cycling supporters.

This event was covered by the Windsor Star, CBC, and OurWindsor.

The campaign asks not only for bicycling access on the bridge, but proper connections to the greenways planned on both sides of the border. Those connections are planned on the U.S. side but not on the Canadian side.

U.S. bridge plans

We’d written about this last December and even showed a bridge cross section design. It appears we were looking an alternative design. The final design has two 10-foot shoulders for bicyclists and a separated 5-foot sidewalk for pedestrians — or less confident bicyclists.

This design is what was in the Bridge Type Study Report and Conceptual Engineering Report. Both documents are referenced in the final Record of Decision and recently submitted Presidential Permit application.

We’ve asked for MDOT’s commitment to these plans, but they are unable to directly address them. Governor’s Rick Synder’s office is handling the project communications.

The Canadians are still unsure of Transport Canada’s commitment.

Will these U.S. plans coerce the Canadians into supporting bicyclists? No one seems to know.

Detroit River ferry service

Masse also visited the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority in August. His mission was to ensure that Canadian Customs could use this facility for the ferry service. Under this scenario, both customs would be on the U.S. side as is done elsewhere on the border.

The Windsor Star created a couple videos of the event.

The second video is of Steven Olinek, deputy director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority.

 

Detroit River ferry would help cyclists cross the border

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Detroit River ferry service was back in the news last week – the Windsor news that is.

This CBC video and article provide a good background on where we stand with ferry service, including its potential to help bicycle tourism.

Gord Orr with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island said the idea holds great promise.

“The potential of the bicycle tourism part of it is very exciting as we start to look at more trails and routes and see how we can increase more of that healthy lifestyle,” Orr said.

We agree. We need to connect the Detroit RiverWalk and Windsor River trail, as well as provide a crossing for the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route and future U.S. Bicycle Routes.

The CBC ran a similar article that spoke with MP Brian Masse of the Canadian Parliament.

“To me, this would be an exciting opportunity to put pedestrians and cyclists back and forth along the water,” Masse said. “Detroit has a marvellous waterfront now. They’ve worked hard on it and need to be commended for it. Ours, of course, is really nice and has been remodelled recently. This could be an exciting time to share both of our cultures again.”

The Windsor Star also chimed in with an article that also quoted Orr.

“I think that allowing passenger travel on ferry and bicycles included would also help the interest in cycle tourism. We have a number of trails to be enjoyed by cycle tourists and obviously this would eliminate the hassle of parking, crossing an international border at the tunnel or the bridge.”

It sounds like we’ve got the message out about the importance of this crossing, at least on the Canadian side.

What about the new bridge?

Progress continues to be made on a new Detroit/Windsor bridge – the NITC.

As mentioned earlier, the plans call for a bicycle/pedestrian path on one side of the bridge. We spoke with State Representative Rashida Talib. She said that if it’s in there, it’s unlikely MDOT can renege.

On the Windsor side, bicycle advocates are now making sure Canadian Customs is prepared to handle bike and pedestrian traffic. They also want to ensure their new greenways connect with the bridge. MTGA submitted comments to U.S. and Canadian officials asking that greenways are connected to the bridge.

Do cyclists need a bridge and ferry service? We think so. The bridge would be a 24/7 option, but it comes with a steep price – a steep climb. It’s also located a short distance away from the riverfront trails and downtowns. Ferry service would be more centrally located and you’d only have to climb on board a boat. However, ferry service might not be available year round. The bridge would also provide some amazing views.

Bridge path a greenway?

Also, one suggestion is to create a name for this trail connecting Detroit and Windsor. Something like the International Freedom Trail sounds much better than just calling it the bike path on the bridge. Who could be against a trail with a name like that?

Or can you think of a better name?

Biking the bridge(s) between Detroit and Windsor

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The proposed New Internationals Trade Crossing (NITC) bridge moved closer to reality this past week.

From Crain’s Detroit Business:

At a press conference at the Hilton in downtown Windsor, Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a joint effort to build the $2.1 billion New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor.

The project could start in 2013 or 2014, and work is expected to take at least four years.

This was a big deal. Even U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was present. He talked about it on his blog.

As everyone who has worked so hard to make this project happen knows, the new crossing will be much more than a road across the Detroit River. With jobs and economic growth, both of our countries will prosper from the new connection.

Neither LaHood nor Snyder made a comment about biking across the new bridge, but that is in the design plans as we noted back in December.

Bike the Ambassador Bridge

The annual Bike the Bridge event was also this past weekend. The Windsor Star covered the event and included these comments from Windsor City Councilor Halberstadt:

Ward 3 Coun. Alan Halberstadt, who sits on the Windsor Bicycling Committee, said part of the purpose of the annual event is to raise awareness that a bike connection is needed across the border. He said they will be pushing to have a bike route added to the existing Ambassador Bridge or included in plans for the new bridge.

“It just makes sense. Cycling is becoming more and more popular for health and economic reasons and it’s a great tourism attraction to have Americans come over here,” said Halberstadt.

2012 Bike the Bridge registration closing soon

Monday, May 28th, 2012

On Sunday morning, June 17th you’ll be able to ride your bike from Detroit to Windsor over the Ambassador Bridge.

Make sure you register now. It appears Bike the Bridge registration is closing for the event at 11am on May 31st. Since this event involves U.S. and Canadian Customs pre-screening, there just can be exceptions for late registrants.

Here’s additional information from the web site:

This is a very special Biking event. The Ambassador Bridge, spanning from Detroit to Windsor, pauses traffic to allow bikes to cross. Canadian riders will ride to the US, across the bridge, and meet up with the Americans. Then both the Canadians and Americans will ride back across the bridge. A delicious Breakfast will be provided after the bridge ride, at Canada’s beautiful Mic Mac Park. Breakfast will be provided by Tres Bean Cafe’ of Windsor. We also plan to have guest speakers and musical entertainment. Then one of two tours can be selected. The short tour will be approximately 15 miles/ 24 KM in length. The short tour will include a special production by Mackenzie Hall. The Long tour will be approximately 40 miles/ 64 KM in length. Both tours will focus on the theme of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The long tour will include a trip to Fort Malden. At the conclusion of the tours Americans, will be bussed back across the bridge and their bikes will be transported via truck. You will also receive a uniquely designed T-shirt as a memento of the event. If you want to attend this event you must have a valid Passport, Passport card, enhanced driver’s license, or Nexus card at the time of registration. This applies to everyone attending this event.

Hopefully the Canadians won’t tease us to much about our rapid surrender of Fort Detroit during the War of 1812. At least we took Fort Malden the next year.

WindsorDOTca also has an article on this event.