Complete Streets: a bitter pill for the Road Commission

We recently wrote about the Road Commission for Oakland County and their unwillingness to follow the national design guidelines for safe bicycling facilities.

That unwillingness is going to make  Complete Streets a bitter pill.

One doesn’t have to look too far to confirm that. Here’s the text they’ve had in the Oakland County’s Oak Routes Map.

The Road Commission for Oakland County is a member of the Oakland County Trails Advisory Council in order to accomplish two goals. First, our goal is to encourage and facilitate the movement of people throughout the county by non-motorized means as a way to promote healthier living and reducing the number of trips required on the road system. Secondly, the Road Commission wants to create the best possible nonmotorized network by contributing technical expertise to the location and design of the pathway system. This will create fewer conflicts with the motorized network and result in the safest possible trails for all users. Accomplishing both goals is in the best interest of our residents’ health, safety, and quality of life.

Yes, they refer to roads as the “motorized network.”

Yes, they are trying to gets bikes off the road.

Some of their best work is in Oakland County townships such as West Bloomfield. West Bloomfield has partnered with the Road Commission to get bikes of the roads and onto side paths, which they call safety paths.

Township officials have acknowledged to us that these paths are not safe for many bicyclists. That said, they’re still committed to building them.

One of their engineers admitted that these paths do not follow AASHTO bicycle design guidelines, but insisted it’s okay because the township only labels them as pedestrian facilities. That doesn’t explain the path’s bike routes signs or much of their safety path documentation.

Given all this, it is a major disappointment that the League of Michigan Bicyclists is giving its 2010 Community Award to the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission, for among other things, “activities that support making Michigan a better place to bicycle.”  The Commission has been a supporter of this safety path program and calls for more of them in their master plan.

Safety paths are not making Michigan a better place to bicycle.

And safety paths in nearly all cases do not make a Complete Street.

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3 Responses to “Complete Streets: a bitter pill for the Road Commission”

  1. John Lindenmayer Says:


    It is disappointing that you would publicly chastise LMB for the award we gave to the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission last year, especially after our email exchange on the subject. The League is 100% opposed to any effort to push bicyclists off the roads and onto sidepaths. As we clearly pointed out in our email to you on the subject, the award was given last March for their work in hosting a bicycle safety day for 300+ children and parents back in May of 2009. I believe last year’s event was even larger. They were very deserving of being recognized for their work in educating children and parents. As for what the city, township or county is doing in terms of bike facilities, that is another story and in no way factored into this award given to the Parks Commission, and it is misleading for you to make the connection.

    Now on a more constructive note, how can LMB help in your local efforts to change the attitude towards on-road bicycling in the area?

  2. MisterG Says:

    I’ve always been a bit “underwelmed” by the methadology used in many of the bike safety studies. For example, the use of self reported data, treating all sidepaths as the same, lack of/estimated usage (“the denomiinator”), excertra excetera.

    Unfortunately, anytime I “speak up” to support sidepath cycling the flaming “shout down” begins 🙂

    This is unfortunate, since all groups (sidewalkies, roadies and lanees) all have the same goal – increasing cycling participation – which is the best promoter of safety: More cyclists = more safety. Shifting the cyclist from being a rareity to being typical & expected.

  3. Adam D. Says:

    I believe Todd’s point is the fact that LMB ignored “what the city, township or county is doing in terms of bike facilities” and didn’t factor it into the award given.

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