Essex County Wide Active Transportation Study

The city of Detroit touches four counties. Most everyone can guess Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne, but the fourth? It’s Essex County in Ontario.

Essex has put together an impressive County Wide Active Transportation Study (CWATS) which looks to improve cycling throughout their region.

According to Bike Friendly Windsor:

The study aims to add a lot more bike lanes, multi-use trails and signed bike routes on county roads, and to also connect the county’s lanes with active transportation facilities neighbouring municipalities (like linking the Chrysler Greenway Trail to city routes).

The one missing piece seems to be biking links between Essex County and Detroit — whether that’s by the proposed ferry service or New International Trade Crossing bridge.

Earlier this month I submitted comments on this omission as MTGA’s Detroit Greenways Coordinator. We also provided four reasons why this cross border link is so valuable for cyclists.

Here are those submitted comments:

Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance Comments on the Essex County Wide Active Transportation (CWATs) Master Plan

First, we applaud and encourage Essex County to continue their efforts in becoming a more walkable and bike friendly community. We recognize the combined benefits resulting from your efforts as well as our, especially with respect to tourism and economic development.

With that in mind, our primary concern is an apparently missing planning component: How cyclists can get between the U.S. and Canada.

As you may know, there is no current connection for cyclists unless they were to use a motor vehicle. The Transit Windsor Tunnel Bus does not transport bikes.

However, we see two potential connections for the near future.

First is a passenger ferry service between Detroit and Windsor. The Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority is developing a feasibility study. They are aware of our strong desire for them to accommodate cyclists. They have responding by saying they want to be cyclists? primary cross-border option.

Second is the proposed New International Trade Crossing (NITC). We have submitted comments during the U.S. and Canadian environmental review process asking that the bridge design accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. The initial designs did show a non-motorized separated pathway on one side of the bridge cross section. Perhaps equally important are the non-motorized connections to the bridge. The U.S. designs seem to have them. We did not see where the Canadian side did.

Including non-motorized connections and routes to the NITC may be a valuable addition to this Essex County plan.

We also want to mention why this cross border connection is critical.

First and most obvious are the value in having an international, connected biking network. Can Detroit cyclists ride to the Essex County wineries? Can Canadians ride to Detroit’s music festivals and sporting events? This is a quality of life issue that promotes tourism and economic development.

Second, we are developing an Underground Railroad Bicycle Route ( Currently we do not have a means for crossing between Detroit and Windsor, so the route alternatively travels north to the St. Clair River ferries — skipping the Essex County. We’d much rather we get cyclists into Windsor and to Sandwiche.

Third, we are in the early planning stages for the U.S. Bicycle Route System. Three routes come through Detroit from across the U.S. We want to option for cycling tourists using these routes to continue on into Canada.

Fourth, it would be great if Detroit cyclists could take advantage of VIA Rail’s Bike Train in Windsor without having to drive to the station. Alternatively, we expect to soon have roll-on bicycle service on our Amtrak trains, which allows Canadian cyclists access to places like Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and Chicago.

And speaking of the VIA Rail Bike Train, we did not see it mentioned in the County Plan, but we think this is a valuable resource for cyclists.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply