Posts Tagged ‘bike lanes’

Courts reduce road agency liability

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

It’s already difficult to sue road agencies under state law for the quality of the road beneath your tires.


Each governmental agency having jurisdiction over a highway shall maintain the highway in reasonable repair so that it is reasonably safe and convenient for public travel. A person who sustains bodily injury or damage to his or her property by reason of failure of a governmental agency to keep a highway under its jurisdiction in reasonable repair and in a condition reasonably safe and fit for travel may recover the damages suffered by him or her from the governmental agency. The liability, procedure, and remedy as to county roads under the jurisdiction of a county road commission shall be as provided in section 21 of chapter IV of 1909 PA 283, MCL 224.21. Except as provided in section 2a, the duty of a governmental agency to repair and maintain highways, and the liability for that duty, extends only to the improved portion of the highway designed for vehicular travel and does not include sidewalks, trailways, crosswalks, or any other installation outside of the improved portion of the highway designed for vehicular travel. A judgment against the state based on a claim arising under this section from acts or omissions of the state transportation department is payable only from restricted funds appropriated to the state transportation department or funds provided by its insurer.

Remember that in Michigan bicycles are not vehicles, therefore road agencies can’t be sued for defects in bike lanes or on paved shoulders.

That’s both good and bad. It’s good for countering road agencies arguments that bike lanes raise their liability. They don’t. In fact, they can reduce it. That’s not our opinion. That’s the opinion of the Michigan State Attorney General’s office.

The bad part is this lack of liability removes a motivating factor for keeping them well maintained. Then again, the roads aren’t in all that great a shape either.

Gravel doesn’t count

Last week the Michigan Supreme Court clarified the road liability a little more. They said the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) could not be sued for gravel that accumulated on a road. That gravel allegedly caused a motorcycle crash.

From the Spinal Column:

“Basically the law states that a defect must be in the traveled portion of the road and the higher courts interpretation is that it must be in the road bed itself and the gravel was simply a dusting on the surface of the road that you would see anywhere on a daily basis,” [RCOC attorney Paula] Reeves explained.

Michigan law established that if snow and ice are on a roadway, the RCOC is not liable for any damages. Subsequently the Supreme Court last week issued an opinion stating under Michigan Law the agency is not culpable in this incident since RCOC is responsible for keeping the roadway in “reasonable repair,” and loose gravel on a roadway does not fall under this definition.

“The courts took this logic and extended the law to apply to gravel,” Reeves noted.

This ruling could likely be applied to a bicyclist crashing on gravel in a vehicle travel lane.

Again, this is good and bad for the same reasons mentioned earlier.

However, if reducing the liability means more bike lanes, we’ll take it.

We’ll deal with the occasional gravel.


Midtown and RiverWalk construction updates

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

These updates are from Midtown Detroit:

Midtown Loop – Phase II construction began on April 16th. Construction goes along the north side of Canfield Avenue from Cass to John R. and continues south along the east side of John R. to Mack.

Second Avenue Two-Way Conversion Project – will convert Second Avenue to a two-way street with bike lanes from I-94 to West Grand Blvd. New decorative LED street lighting will also be installed. Construction will begin May 1st.

Third Avenue Two-Way Conversion Project – will begin on May 7th and is planned to end on July 15th. This project will convert Third Avenue between Ledyard and Forest to two-way traffic, add bike lanes in both directions, and maintain parking along both sides of the street.

Anthony Wayne Drive is also getting bike lanes which connects the Second and Third Avenue projects.

Trumbull from Warren to Holden is also getting bike lanes this year, though it’ll likely happen later in the season.

Mt. Elliott Plaza

Current Mt. Elliott Park design / Photo from Detroit Riverfront Conservancy web site

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will begin construction on an new plaza and splash park at Mt. Elliott Park this June. The construction should be completed in a year.

The plaza will be similar in size to the one currently at Gabriel Richard Park at the foot of the bridge to Belle Isle.

The splash park has a schooner theme with masts, waterfalls, a river, and water cannons. It looks very cool! It’s the kind of attraction that will definitely pull kids and families to the park.

The schooner does not have a name, but you can change that by making a serious donation.


Bike lane education in Detroit

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Every city goes through an initial learning period with new road design elements. Local examples include HAWK signals and roundabouts.

In Detroit, there have been discussions on driver and cyclist education on bike lanes. They’re relatively new to many neighborhoods. Eventually people learn how to behave around and in bike lanes, however, an effective educational campaign can speed up that learning process.

And there are some potential educational options being discussed and even developed.

At the state level, bike lanes are briefly and sporadically mentioned in the Secretary of State’s booklet, What every Driver Must Know.

We really like this video that was produced by the city of Minneapolis.

They also have an educational video on shared road designs.

Detroit’s aggressive plan for more bike lanes

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Huffington Post ran this articlelast week that shows the city of Detroit’s commitment to being “very aggressive” in adding bike lanes.

[Department of Public Works Director Ron] Brundidge said Detroit is aggressively building bike lanes to promote a healthy lifestyle and to encourage environmentally conscious behavior. “We just feel it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to have our citizens have the option and ability to get out there and bike,” Brundidge said.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

The If you look at the city map provided by the article, you might ask these questions why the City didn’t add bike lanes…

On East Jefferson? There are already a couple other bike lane and streetscape projects planned for this road through the East Jefferson Corridor Collaborative. Stay tuned.

On any of the other spoke roads? All of the other spoke roads (e.g. Grand River, Gratiot) are state roads. It’s up to MDOT to add bike lanes to them.

On Outer Drive? That’s a Wayne County Road. The City did add State Fair, which is an extension off E. Outer Drive.

Connecting Corktown to the RiverWalk via the Sixth Street bridge? The south end of that bridge is on private property. It would be a little trickier getting that connection improved for bicycling, though it’s not all that bad today.

On Second Avenue north of Grand Boulevard? The optimal solution would be to convert Second back to two-way just like it is being done this year south of the Boulevard. These conversions are expensive because the traffic signals need to be replaced as they only face in three directions.

How certain is all this? It’s not 100%. Some of these bike lanes require state grant funding that is very likely but not for certain.

Most of the bike lanes are being added through the city’s regular re-striping program. Those white lines don’t last forever and need to get repainted. Next year Detroit’s going to put down the paint a little differently.

With all the budget cuts planned, some might ask why there’s a priority on adding bike lanes in Detroit now. However, the funding for this is for transportation purposes only and it can’t be spent on police or fire. The Michigan Constitution actually prevents road funding from being spent on non-transportation items.

The exciting news is that if this does all get completed as expected, Detroit will have the most extensive bike lane network among all cities in Michigan and among nearly all U.S. cities. If we don’t win a Cup, World Series, or Super Bowl by next year, at least we’ll have that to brag about.

New Detroit bike lanes for 2012

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

There are bike lanes planned for the city of Detroit that are expected to be completed this year. Here’s a run down of those projects.

Midtown bike lanes

The below projects all tie together to create on consistent north-south bike route from Cass Tech to New Center. Though not a bike lane, phase II construction of the Midtown Loop will begin this year, extending the pathway south on John R and on Canfield from John R to Cass. The segment along Cass is now phase III.

Second Avenue from Grand Boulevard to Palmer – The street is being returned to two-way travel with bike lanes added for most of it. There is insufficient road width north of the railroad underpass so sharrows will be used.

Anthony Wayne Drive from Palmer to Warren – Bike lanes will be added.

Third Avenue from Warren to Ledyard – This segment will become all two-way with bike lanes.

Cass Park – All of the streets surrounding the park will receive bike lanes.

Conner Creek Greenway

Another phase of this eastside greenway is being constructed this year. This time the portion between 6 Mile and 8 Mile is the focus. E. Outer Drive and Conner Avenue below the Milbank Greenway (which is just north of E. Outer Drive) will get bike lanes.

Trumbull Enhancements

Bike lanes will be added to Trumbull from Warren Avenue north to about Holden. We haven’t seen the drawings, but that’s what we’ve heard. The City has said they would look into continuing the Trumbull bike lanes from Warren south to MLK though there is no timeframe for that.

Safety Improvement Projects

These are the safety projects we’d mentioned earlier. There is one additional public meeting to discuss safety improvements to West Chicago from Spinozza (Rouge Park) just about to Livernois. That meeting is Monday, February 20th from 5pm to 7pm at the Don Bosco Hall, 19321 W. Chicago. We’re told the plans for W. Chicago include bike lanes but we don’t know to what extent yet. We do know they make a great east-west connection to Rouge Park which has great roads, pathways, and trails for biking. Spinozza also connects with W. Outer Drive, another great Detroit biking road.

Dix Road from Waterman/W. Vernor to Woodmere – This is basically an extension of the existing bike lanes on W. Vernor which provides a connection with the pathway in Patton Park.

Central from W. Vernor to McGraw – Only portions of the Central will get bike lanes. At times the road is too narrow so sharrows will be used instead. Central become an even more critical biking route after the Detroit International Freight Transfer Project (DIFT) closes nearby Lonyo Road. Central is also part of the proposed Inner Circle Greenway route that encircles the city.

E. Seven Mile from I-75 to Gratiot is also a safety improvement project but there was insufficient room to add bike lanes. However, like the roads mentioned above, the designs are such that they encourage motorists to drive more prudently.