Pedestrian Bridges for Cyclists?

Proposed Clinton River Trail bridge over Telegraph Road in PontiacI was recently asked by an urban planning study group about pedestrian bridge solutions for cyclists when crossing Eight Mile.  Would it work?  Is it a good solution?

It’s my opinion that pedestrian bridges can work for cyclists in some circumstances, but I’m not sure how well they’d work on Eight Mile.

I think pedestrian bridges can work for cyclists when:

  • There isn’t a faster at-grade crossing
  • The approaches are not too high (e.g. the road is below grade or the approaches are long and gradual)
  • The approaches are easy to ride
  • When not located at an intersection, routes to the bridge are signed so cyclists know they exist
  • The pedestrian bridge is cleared of snow in the winter and otherwise well-maintained

One bridge that does work is the Clinton River Trail bridge over I-75 in Auburn Hills.  It meets all the above criteria.  However, most pedestrian bridges in the Metro Detroit area don’t work for cyclists.

There is a pedestrian bridge over I-696 west of Greenfield that is almost acceptable.  However, the approaches include very sharp 180 degree turns that force most cyclists to dismount; one approach ramp blindly delivers speeding cyclists to the middle of a road; it’s never plowed of snow; it’s often choked with weeds; and very few cyclists know it even exists due to a lack of signage.

The pedestrian bridges over I-75 have steep approaches, are unsigned, and have obstacles at the end of the approach ramps.  They are almost never used by regular cyclists.  They seemed to have been designed primarily for school children.

Pedestrian bridges are not cheap solutions and so it is all the more important that they are employed effectively.  Sometimes it may make more sense (and save more cents) using at-grade intersection improvements.

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2 Responses to “Pedestrian Bridges for Cyclists?”

  1. Wylie Gerdes Says:

    Thanks for the important work. Long overdue — both your work and planning for riders.

  2. Trail Connections between Detroit and Warren | Says:

    […] proposed Eight Mile crossing does not include a pedestrian bridge for many of the reasons we cited earlier. MDOT agreed. And there was one additional reason not to build a large steel raised bridge over […]

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