Detroit safety projects to include bike lanes “where possible”

Many of the bike lanes installed or currently being installed in the city of Detroit are the result of local community development organizations (CDO). These CDOs have found private funding to match MDOT transportation enhancement grants.

More recently, the city of Detroit has been championing bike lane projects funded through MDOT safety grants. These grants are available for roads having high levels of crashes, something Detroit has plenty of.

For 2011, the city received funding for a mile of West Vernor (Lansing Road to Waterman) in Southwest Detroit. That project will be completed this year and it includes a couple miles of bike lanes.

Detroit has gotten more ambitious for 2012. The city received six MDOT safety grants for these four road corridors:

  • Central Ave. from West Vernor to McGraw
  • East 7 Mile from the I-75 Service Drive to Gratiot
  • West Chicago from Spinozza to just west Monica
  • Dix from Waterman to Woodmere

The city has said they will put bike lanes on these road corridors wherever it is possible. For example, parts of Central are too narrow for bike lanes, so other options will be considered.

Overall, the city engineers recognize that adding bike lanes as well as other Complete Street designs improve overall safety for all road users.

The U.S. DOT’s BIKESAFE web site agrees:

Bike lanes have been found to provide more consistent separation between bicyclists and passing motorists than shared travel lanes. The presence of the bike lane stripe has also been shown from research to result in fewer erratic motor vehicle driver maneuvers, more predictable bicyclist riding behavior, and enhanced comfort levels for both motorists and bicyclists. The extra space created for bicyclists is also a benefit on congested roadways where bicyclists may be able to pass motor vehicles on the right.

Safety in Numbers

In addition, studies show bike lanes encourage more people to ride. One survey of Detroit residents found that:

  • Majority of respondents felt uncomfortable riding a bike on a major road without bike lanes and through areas with numerous vacant buildings.
  • 37% of respondents would be comfortable bicycling on a major roadway if a bike lane was present.

And, the more bicyclists on the road, the safer it is for everyone.

“It’s a positive effect but some people are surprised that injury rates don’t go up at the same rate of increases in cycling,” says Sydney University’s Dr Chris Rissel, co-author of a 2008 research report on cycling.

“It appears that motorists adjust their behaviour in the presence of increasing numbers of people bicycling because they expect or experience more people cycling. Also, rising cycling rates mean motorists are more likely to be cyclists, and therefore be more conscious of, and sympathetic towards, cyclists.”

Leading the region

So while some road agencies in Metro Detroit are just starting to discuss bike lanes, the city is pursing safety funding and putting paint on the road. Though the City may not have a Complete Streets ordinance or resolution (yet!), it is beginning to implement Complete Street designs.

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4 Responses to “Detroit safety projects to include bike lanes “where possible””

  1. eastside rider Says:

    E 7mile from I-75 to Gratiot??? Impossible!!!! What genius came up with this????
    Its barely a 4 lane road (2 each direction)that complete span!
    The safety grant dollars will be much better spent on putting a bike lane on E Outer Drive from Conant to E 7mile. There it can connect with the Conner Creek Gateway.
    That route is parallel and will be infinitely safer for cyclists.

  2. Todd Scott Says:

    I’d rather see bike lanes on E. Outer Drive too. There will be some bike lanes on E. Outer Drive from the airport to Conner (near the Chrysler Conner Assembly plant) for the Conner Creek Greenway. Hopefully that will occur next year. The plan is to eventually have bike lanes on all of E. Outer Drive. And, E. Outer Drive is owned by Wayne County and not the city. So Detroit couldn’t get grants to put bike lanes on E. Outer Drive even if they wanted to.

    Also this safety money is allocated to the roads with the high crash rates. I bet Seven mile has more crashes than E.Outer Drive. Boulevards are usually safer. Isn’t 7 Mile mostly a two lane road with really wide lanes that looks like four lanes. I don’t recall it being striped for four lanes even though drivers treat it as such.

  3. detroitjim Says:

    I agree with eastside rider.
    I’d have to have a death wish to ride on Seven mile for any portion of that length. Even in a designated bike lane.
    There are a few spots along 7mile where cars park legally at the curb. The road was not designed to handle the amount of traffic it carries.(especially between East Outer Drive and Van Dyke (since the closing of E McNichols))

    Yes , Todd Seven Mile really only has two wide lanes (one each direction) There is no striping that divides the east or westbound lanes of travel into two lanes.

    The article reads “wherever it is possible” . Its impossible to make a SAFE bike lane on Seven Mile between those points..

    An alternative would be to create designated bike routes between I-75 and Gratiot . Emery and E Lantz go nearly the distance between I-75 and Van Dyke(with a short interruption at RR tracks between Sherwood and Mt Elliot). A connection could then be made to Lappin which goes from E Outer Drive to Gratiot

    Eastbound from I-75 to Gratiot(total distance 6.75 miles) :east on Emery to Filer(aprox 3 miles),Filer south to 7Mile ,7 mile east to Sherwood,north on Sherwood to East Lantz,east on E Lantz to Outer Drive,south on OD to Lappin,east on Lappin to Gratiot(aprox 2.4 miles)

    Westbound from Gratiot to I-75:Lappin to E Outer Drive,north on OD to Bliss, West on Bliss to Van Dyke,south on Van Dyke to Emery,west on Emery to Girardin,south on Girardin to E 7mile,west on E 7mile to Mt Elliot,north on Mt Elliot to E Lantz, west on E Lantz to I-75.

  4. Todd Scott Says:

    Yes, it’s possible that they won’t put in bike lanes on 7 Mile. I suspect they’ll try to more clearly define the lanes and parking. I’ve ridden on 7 Mile during rush hour and it wasn’t fun, but I’d ride it if there were bike lanes, especially outside of rush hour. Then again, I understand that not everyone feels safe doing that.

    I looked at the bicycle crash reports from 2004 to 2010 along this section of 7 Mile. They were clustered mostly between Gouldburn and Gratiot. The contributing crash factors tended to be cyclists riding against traffic or on the sidewalk. It had more bike crashes than E. Outer Drive but less than roads like Gratiot.

    But as I mentioned, this money can only be spent on 7 Mile, but that doesn’t mean other money couldn’t be found to improve other routes like E. Outer Drive or the ones you’ve listed.

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