Tienken Road plans ignore cyclist safety

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.”

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3 Responses to “Tienken Road plans ignore cyclist safety”

  1. Andrew Mutch Says:

    Another place to comment is SEMCOG’s committee meeting to approve the TIP program that includes this project.


    A public request that the project be funded with the requirement that bike lanes be included would be consistent with SEMCOG’s stated support for alternatives mode of transportation. The project is primarily being funded with federal dollars.

  2. EJ Levy Says:

    Recently I rode the Tienken corridor and was rather shocked by what appeared to be the total lack of a plan for cyclists in the area. While this East/West route is appealling to cyclists as a link up from Rochester all the way to Stoney Creek the lack of enhanced safety enhancements which address the concerns for cyclists is negligent action on the part of the parties concerned (Rochester/OCRC) as they were made aware of the studies at hand that relate to safety. Does this not make them liable in the event of a tragic incident. And what accounts for their cavalier, at best, if not indifferent, at worst, attitude. The opportunity to do it right and make the roads safe for all has been squandered. As I like to say, “A bike friendly community is a friendly community.
    Bloomfield Hills
    Director: Motive Force-Loose Spokes (455 members)
    VP: Cadieux BC/Team o2 (70 members)
    Ride Leader: Wolverine Sports Club (700+ members)

  3. Andrew Mutch Says:

    A point to make with SEMCOG is that TIP projects are supposed to be consistent with Direction2035, which is SEMCOG’s long-range plan for all transportation improvements. One of the policies of Direction2035 is to provide safe and efficient walking and biking travel.


    A case should be made that this project doesn’t meet those stated policies and that it should be revised to be consistent with SEMCOG’s own priorities.

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