Dequindre Cut gets FHWA award

In November, the Federal Highway Administration announced the 2010 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards. These awards are given to recognize “outstanding initiatives across the country to develop, plan, and implement innovative transportation planning practices. ”

The Dequindre Cut and MDOT received an honorable mention in the Livability/Sustainability category.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) transformed the Dequindre Cut, a formerly overgrown abandoned railroad corridor, into a 1.35-mile recreational trail for walking and bicycle use. Serving over 100,000 residents, the Dequindre Cut provides a safe and vital non-motorized connection from popular destinations in downtown Detroit to the beautiful Detroit Riverfront and Harbor.

Transformation of the Dequindre Cut involved extensive community input, and involved a number of private and not-for-profit entities. The Downtown Detroit Partnership led a public involvement, visioning, and planning process to gather input from nearby neighborhoods on how the “Cut” could be transformed and opened to the public. Residents toured the site, discussed options, and provided feedback on conceptual designs, including the popular decision to preserve existing graffiti art along the bridge abutments.

Through the efforts of the public, nonprofit, and private partners, this project transformed a forgotten, unused corridor into a natural greenway for public use, promoting physical activity, and offering residents and visitors a unique experience within the urban framework of Detroit.

That’s great, but we wish it not be labeled a recreational trail? That label might lead one to believe it’s just about recreation, which certainly isn’t the case. Generally speaking, trails that are loops within parks are recreational trails.

One of the award winners was New York City’s commitment to build 200 miles of bike lanes.

In June 2009, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) fulfilled its commitment by building 204.8 lane-miles of bicycle facilities in all five boroughs, doubling the number of on-street bicycle facilities and bringing the total mileage of bicycle facilities to over 600 lane-miles.

The 200 lane-mile project is an unprecedented expansion of the city’s bicycle infrastructure that radically improves the quality of the streets of the Nation’s most densely populated city. The 200 lane-miles included the execution of 88 separate projects on scores of unique street segments. To accommodate the vastly different street conditions, NYCDOT’s planning and design staff utilized innovative designs, such as protected bicycle paths, which position cyclists between the curb and the parking lane, the first of their kind in the United States.

Before-and-after data from the protected paths proves their safety benefits: up to 56 percent reductions in all injuries along the project corridors, up to 29 percent reductions in pedestrian accidents, and up to 57 percent reductions in cyclist accidents. Data from the 9th Avenue and Grand Street protected paths shows an 84 percent reduction in illegal sidewalk riding.

That’s so impressive given the value of road real estate in NYC.

While the city of Detroit has a commitment to build 400 miles of bike lanes, there is no time commitment.

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