Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle Friendly Communities’

Detroit: a national model for public-private partnership

Monday, February 27th, 2012

As the MTGA Detroit Greenways Coordinator, I worked with different City departments to complete Detroit’s Bicycle Friendly Community application, which was submitted last Friday.

One question was to name three primary reasons Detroit deserves this recognition. Here’s one of the given reasons:

Detroit is a national leader in developing and maintaining greenways/biking facilities through public-private partnerships. Philanthropy, community development organization, business organization, and other non-profits are the driver behind much of the bicycle friendly infrastructure in Detroit. For example, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has raised $104 million to transform Detroit’s industrial riverfront into a world class greenway. That said, a limitation of this BFC application is it presumes the city is always the project development and maintenance lead. That is not often the case in Detroit. For example, while there is approximately city of Detroit 1 FTE working on bicycle issues, there are approximately 30 FTEs among the non-profits and retained consultants.

This recent video from the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy highlights their public-private partnership on greenway security. In most cities, security would be provided by a police agency or perhaps contracted by them.

Maintenance on the RiverWalk and Dequindre are similar in that the Conservancy hired Clean Detroit and others to perform the work. In other cities this work is more commonly performed by city staff.

The other two reasons

The Bicycle Friendly Community application asked for three primary reasons. Here are the other two.

Detroit is bike friendly in 2012 for many of the same reasons it was bike friendly in 1910. There are not that many cars on the roads, which is not something that’s reflected in this application. The city’s population has dropped over 61% since 1950 and we’ve added a comprehensive freeway network. Both issues have pulled cars off the surface streets. Detroit has 23 linear feet of road for every resident, nearly double the rate in Los Angeles. Cyclists dont always need a bike lane when they have a car lane to themselves. During a recent meeting on creating another Detroit bike map, we realized that there are so many roads that accommodate bikes well in their current state. We agreed it would be easier to just mark the few roads that don’t.

Detroit has a burgeoning Black bike cultures perhaps unmatched by any other city. Despite being the Motor City, that’s not unexpected since Detroit has the highest percentage of African American residents among U.S. cities over 100,000. There are at five Detroit riding clubs that have formed in the past 2 years. These clubs are growing in popularity. One club, Grown Men on Bikes (GMOB) just released their own theme song to ride to. These clubs along with the youth clubs and Hispanic bike clubs are helping overcome the stigma of the bicycle as a last choice mode of transport.

We should know in a couple months whether Detroit will be recognized as a bicycle friendly community. Currently there are none in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. Ferndale applied years ago but was unsuccessful.

It would be quite exciting if Detroit was the first.

Michigan Infrastructure Dashboard

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Michigan has a performance dashboard that gives some very high level indicators which try to convey a sense of whether we’re improving or not.

The indicators are grouped into five main categories: infrastructure, Michigan, education, health and wellness, and talent.

There aren’t any indicators showing how we’re doing with respect to walking or biking, so we suggested two additions to the Mobility section of the Infrastructure dashboard.

For walking, we suggested a count of the number of Michigan cities given a “Very Walkable” rating or better from walkscore. com. Currently no Michigan cities have that rating but Hamtramck is very, very close. Given that no Michigan city is considered very walkable, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll appreciate this suggestion. We wouldn’t be overly disappointed if they lowered the bar so that some cities are counted. That would be better than nothing.

For biking, we suggesteded a count of the number of Bicycle Friendly Communities within the state. Currently that’s 7.

Why not use the number of Complete Street policies? While the Michigan Complete Streets Coalition lists a map with “Complete Street policies”, it really isn’t. It lists communities that have passed ordinances and resolutions, some of which we know have little to no intention of having a Complete Streets policy. And some are co-opting the Complete Streets definition.

Similarly, some communities have “non-motorized plans” which are merely sidewalk or trails plans. What is and what is not a proper non-motorized plan is subjective. And just having a plan doesn’t mean it’s being implemented any time soon.

For these reasons, we think using the third-party evaluations for walking and biking make much more sense.

One more benefit? These evaluations are consistent nationally. If Michigan is to compete with the rest of America, we need to measure ourselves accurately against the other 49.

We’ll let you know if we get any response from the state.

Two more Bicycle Friendly Business awards in Detroit

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Via the Hub of Detroit

The League of American Bicyclists recently recognized the Wheelhouse Detroit and OminCorpDetroit for being Bicycle Friendly Businesses. Both were given Bronze awards and join the Hub of Detroit, who received a Gold award last year.

Detroit now has three recognized Bicycle Friendly Businesses of the seven in Michigan. Nationally, Detroit is now tied with cities like Austin and Boulder, but notably behind the leading cities like Portland and Minneapolis.

Businesses in the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park that are interested in knowing more about this program can contact the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance (MTGA). MTGA can provide training and assist with the application.

Having recognized Bicycle Friendly Businesses also helps cities earn Bicycle Friendly Communities awards. Applying for such as award was discussed at the last Detroit Non-motorized External Task Force meeting. The city is interested in applying once some additional bicycle infrastructure projects are completed.

West Bloomfield: Complete Streets and Safety Paths

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The Charter Township of West Bloomfield adopted an updated master plan on September 28th.

Mike Reuter from American Cycle & Fitness and myself (Todd Scott) met with their planning department earlier this year. Our discussion was about making West Bloomfield bike friendly and how we might reflect that in the master plan.

We were successful in getting Complete Streets language added.

As the Township continues to evolve, the methods of travel will adjust to various desires andlifestyles. Environmental and cost of living issues will continue to emerge that will likely shifttravel choices away from the single-occupant automobile toward more carpooling, transitand non-motorized options. Anticipating this shift, the concept of “Complete Streets” hasemerged, which maintains equal focus on all modes of travel through both road and pathwaydesign. Complete Streets are intended to accommodate and enable safe travel for all systemusers. West Bloomfield should support the integration of complete street design into any future road projects to help promote multi-modal transportation in the Township.

One challenge with townships is they do not own any roads. The Road Commission for Oakland County does and they are this area’s biggest impediment to safe cycling.

Despite referencing Complete Streets, the master plan still ignores national design guidelines (AASHTO) by promoting side paths (called safety paths in Oakland County) as bicycle facilities.  (Note that the latest draft of the forthcoming  AASHTO bicycle design guidelines devotes a couple pages to explaining why side paths are not safe for bicyclists.)

Given the political and operation momentum with side paths, one cannot expect West Bloomfield — or any similar Oakland County townships — to be a bicycle friendly community any time soon. Right now, with few exceptions, if you really want to live in a bicycle friendly community, you’re easiest, most reliable option is to move.

Windsor to pursue Bicycle Friendly Community status

Friday, October 1st, 2010

The Windsor Star is reporting that Windsor City Councillors “voted unanimously to pursue Windsor’s designation as Canada’s first Bicycle Friendly Community.”

“There’s a growing respect and enthusiasm for cycling in cities, it’s the wave of the future,” said Coun. Alan Halberstadt, a member of the city’s bicycling committee.

Cycling tourism, already big in Europe, represents “a huge opportunity” for Windsor, said [Eleanor] McMahon, who grew up cycling in Windsor and was once press secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

While it will still be “a big leap from the motor city to the bike city,” Halberstadt said council’s unanimous vote shows Windsor is keen on going further in that direction.

Yep, Windsor is Canada’s Motor City.

Go Windsor!