Detroit biking in the news

Just catching up on some Detroit biking stories in the news on World Car Free Day

Critical Mass Detroit

Last month, Real Detroit Weekly had some coverage on Detroit’s Critical Mass ride.

Biking in from the suburbs may not be an easy task, but once you make it down to Detroit you realize how friendly the city can be on two wheels. Every last Friday of the month, an ever-growing group of bikers take back the streets for a little ride called Critical Mass.

This first paragraph highlights one major point. Detroit’s Critical Mass ride is fun and is becoming hugely popular — but it’s not about taking back the streets. Detroit bicyclists already have it quite good on the streets.

If this Critical Mass were about making a statement for cyclists rights, it would be in the suburbs during rush hour. It would be in Rochester Hills, Canton, and Sterling Heights.

The ride is more like a mini-Tour de Troit without the food and T-shirt — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Conner Creek Greenway Update

Model D has a brief greenway construction update from Detroit’s east side.

The Riverfront Terminus of the Conner Creek Greenway is currently being built. This segment follows Clairpointe from Jefferson south to Maheras Gentry Park and includes bike lanes and landscaping along Clairpointe and a new trail and landscaping on the west side of the park. Construction is slated to be complete by end of October.

This summer, another segment of the greenway, one mile of bike lanes along St. Jean between Jefferson and Mack, was completed. The next stretch will run alongside Mt. Olivet Cemetery on Conner. The entire trail system is slated to be complete in 2013.

Motor City Road Diets

The Free Press has been publishing excerpts from John Gallagher’s new book, Reimagining Detroit. Gallagher discusses road diets and how they can lead to more bike lanes and improved pedestrian safety.

We almost never focus on the wide-open spaces of our main streets. Making Woodward, Jefferson, Gratiot, and the other spoke streets nine lanes wide (three lanes for traffic in each direction, one in the middle for turning, and a lane along either curb for parking) may have made sense in the 1950s when the city boasted a population near two million people.

But with Detroit’s population less than half its 1950s-era peak, these main streets now are absurdly overbuilt for the amount of traffic they carry.

Pedestrians, particularly seniors or parents with children in tow, find it all but impossible to cross one of these nine-line gulfs before the light changes. By narrowing the streets from three traffic lanes in each direction to two — by putting many of Detroit’s streets on a road diet — the city could make it easier for pedestrians to cross.

Since the 1950’s, Detroit’s urban freeway network also pulled many cars off these main roads as well, hence the great biking conditions.

Biking: a central theme

The Hamilton Spectator reported on this year’s Ontario Bike Summit. Jeff Olson from Alta Planning gave a little plug for Detroit.

A biking ‘guru’ who helped transform Portland into a cycling oasis has offered his expertise to Hamilton, a city he believes has “progressive potential.”

Jeff Olson, partner at Alta Planning and Design and a speaker at yesterday’s Ontario Bike Summit 2010 in Burlington, said a number of U.S. cities are using bicycles as a central theme in their shift from manufacturing hubs to modern urban centres. Included in that list are Buffalo, Dayton, Detroit and Cleveland.

Olson did some consulting on Detroit greenways last year and was truly awestruck by the biking potential.

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