Posts Tagged ‘Birmingham’

Southeast Oakland County bike summit

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

A bike summit is planned for this Wednesday, December 12th at 7 PM in the Royal Oak Public Library (222 E. 11 Mile Road.)

The purpose it to provide updates on efforts to improve biking in Southeast Oakland County, primarily Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights and Royal Oak. There will also be an update on a new bike route map some of us have been working on. The Road Commission for Oakland County will also share their recent Complete Streets report.

The Detroit Free Press has this article describing the summit as well as this interesting story from Huntington Woods.

In 2010, Berkley and Huntington Woods residents who live on 11 Mile Road rejected what could’ve been a bike-friendly narrowing of 11 Mile during repaving from Woodward to Coolidge.

“We thought it would improve everyone’s property value along there, to have one lane (of traffic) each way instead of two, but the residents didn’t want it,” Huntington Woods City Manager Alex Allie said.

A road diet on 11 Mile would have had no affect on vehicle congestion. Some people just don’t want improved property values, less speeding, reduced noise, safer streets and a more walkable, bikeable community. The ebike used for our journey was the new Wayfarer Mountain eBike from Wisper – to view full specifications click here for more.

This raises the question of why do we let those who live along a public road limit how safe it will be? Isn’t safety more important than the opinions of some residents?

Apparently not yet in some parts of Southeast Oakland County.

Gran Fondo

The Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) will also be at the summit to discuss their Complete Streets planning effort and proposed race/ride on Woodward.

The ride and race event is called the Gran Fondo, and while the WA3 boards, MDOT and others support it, Royal Oak’s city manager has come out strongly opposing it. The police chief opposed the ride because motorists speed on Woodward, will get road rage, and senior church goers will be confused.

Modeshift has excellent coverage of the recent Gran Fondo discussion before the Royal Oak City Commission.

Royal Oak’s bicycle ban

While the Royal Oak Commission did not vote on the Gran Fondo, they did move towards banning bicycle riding on downtown sidewalks. What the Commission failed to discuss is why cyclists ride on the sidewalk to begin with. Mayor Jim Ellison was quite certain it was only because they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to.

Apparenty Royal Oak Commissioners don’t ride bicycle much downtown. If they did they’d know that the city’s streets are not comfortable to ride for a majority of bicyclists. They feel safer on the sidewalks. If they made any investments to make more bike friendly streets in the downtown, it would draw cyclists off the sidewalks.

Instead the City is proposing they invest in signs banning bicycles. We estimate it will take about 40 signs or roughly $6,000 to properly sign the downtown per state law requirements.

And contrary to what was said at the recent Royal Oak Commission, without these signs, the city’s ban on bicycle riding is not enforceable.

One thought we’ll share at the summit is these Southeast Oakland County communities are relatively more progressive than many of the other neighboring communities, but they’re much less progressive compared with the city of Detroit. For as much attention Detroit gets for having a “broken government” they are consistently more supportive and committed when it comes to being bike friendly.

Birmingham surveys biking and walking interest

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Rebounding after a very public Complete Streets battle over Maple Road, the city of Birmingham is developing a transit and non-motorized transportation plan not unlike what other cities have done in Detroit, Royal Oak, and Novi.

A public survey was used to collect information for the plan. The Birmingham Patch reported the results.

Overall, the survey found that most of the responses were similar to those found in similar communities across the U.S. People want better to bike and walk more.

However, we’re not sure there’s much value in some survey answers. For instance, the survey asks people to evaluate bicycle facilities that don’t exist in the community or even Metro Detroit. How comfortable are you riding in a cycletrack? We’re not sure we could have answered that until we’d spent some time riding them in Montreal earlier this year.

We’d rather see cities just build bike facilities according to best practices and available funding. Best practices include designing the safest option that best meets the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. That’s basically what’s done for motorized transportation planning.

As an example, a survey of local community residents probably would not have shown much support for the Dequindre Cut before it was built. People vehemently said there would not go into that ditch. It took conceptual drawings, community Q & A meetings, and just building it to change minds. Now the community is asking when it will be extended.

It’s challenging for people to evaluate something they’ve never seen or used, or at least not seen in their community. It takes visionary leaders to absorb the community needs and build the best practices infrastructure to meet them.

Moving forward

This planning effort really shows how Birmingham moving in a positive direction for those who walk and bike. We’re excited to see where it takes them.

Among the communities in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties, Detroit is still at the top for their non-motorized efforts and lengthening their lead on the other cities. With its citywide bike network and improved bike parking, Ferndale is in second. Novi and Royal Oak are stepping up. Birmingham, Warren, Pontiac and Dearborn are making moves — and don’t count out Berkley.

Also, the new Woodward Complete Streets project will help knit many of these efforts together. It’ll be interesting to see where we are a few years down the road — or cycletrack.

Take the Birmingham bike/walk/transit survey

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Press release from the city of Birmingham. Note that the survey is intended for everyone, not just Birmingham residents:

The City of Birmingham is in the initial stages of preparing a multi-modal transportation plan for the City. The plan will help to improve the balance between all modes of transportation, with the goal of making foot, bike and transit travel easier and safer. To help guide the project, a survey has been prepared that will be used to help identify travel patterns, preferred types of improvements and desired project outcomes. The survey takes approximately ten to fifteen minutes to complete. To access the survey please click on the following web link:

Alternatively, paper version of the survey may be obtained at the City Clerk’s office (located on the first floor) and the Planning Department (located on the second floor) at City Hall or the Baldwin Public Library. Completed paper surveys may be returned to the same locations or faxed to 734‐668-8820.

The web survey will close Sunday, November 4th at 11:00 p.m.

The results of the survey will be posted on the project webpage and be presented to the City Commission on November 12th.

Future public input opportunities for the project include: a Visioning Workshop on Thursday, January 17th from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., and two Preliminary Plan Open House sessions on Thursday, February 28th from 3:00 to 5:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The Visioning Workshop and the Preliminary Plan Open Houses
will be held at the Baldwin Public Library.

For more information on the project please contact:

Susanna Weckerle
Assistant City Planner
Birmingham, Michigan
(248) 530-1846

Or visit the project webpage at

Your time and insights are most appreciated.

Birmingham says “no” to Maple Road diet

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

We mentioned earlier about the city of Birmingham’s consideration of converting Maple Road from 4 lanes to 3 between Adams and Eton.

Prior to the meeting, the Observer and Eccentric newspaper stirred the mob mentality with the headline “Birmingham’s nightmare on Maple Street.” No, it wasn’t an op-ed.

Mostly negative comments were given during the public hearing.

From the Observer:

The commission came to the same conclusion, voting 6-1 to keep Maple a four-lane road. They did, however, show their support for the concept of trying to narrow major roads to make them more pedestrian friendly, directing staff to begin a Complete Streets study that encompasses the entire city rather than just one particular street.

“Somehow, some way, we’re going to make Maple a better road,” Mayor Mark Nickita said before the vote.

Tom McDaniel was the lone member of the commission to vote against keeping East Maple four lanes, saying the only way to do a valid study of whether the road would work as three lanes would be to re-stripe it for a set period of time and evaluate the results.

City Manager Bob Bruner is a staunch advocate of the Complete Streets initiative, and he thought the timing was right to see if some of the ideas would work on East Maple. Starting in the spring, the stretch of Maple between Eton and Adams is being reconstructed to the same width of 41 feet, giving the city an opportunity to re-stripe the road to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane.

We’ve never seen a road diet studied more than this. The studies and traffic modeling showed it could work, but that wasn’t enough to change public opinion.

As we mentioned in our comments, if it didn’t work as the modeling predicted, it’s just paint. The old road configuration could be restored.

But unless the City tries it, they’ll never know.

As for the Observer newspaper, they showed their 1950s understanding of traffic solving in a follow up opinion piece.

Maple has been a problem road for years. It’s too narrow as it is to handle the flow of daily traffic. If anything, it needs to be widened, not narrowed.

And they probably think the Internet is a series of tubes…

Birmingham to consider road diet and bike lanes

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

As we’ve mentioned before, Birmingham is really starting to get more involved in improving biking and walking opportunities.

One of there latest efforts is to improve Maple Road between Eton and Woodward. This is a main gateway to their downtown and the road isn’t too pretty. It’s mostly a four lane road that allows on-street parking except between 7am and 9am and 4pm and 6pm.

The road carries significant vehicle traffic mostly during rush hour and road that very few would feel comfortable biking on.

We’ve heard that many of the houses along this stretch are rentals, which is probably an reflection on the unwelcoming street.

A proposed alternative is a road diet, taking it to three lanes with bike lanes. The current lane design would be maintained at the intersections to facilitate more traffic flow. Traffic models determined that 30% of the vehicle traffic would use other roads if this were to happen and travel delays would not be that much worse. While motorists might wait more at the Adams crossing, the Woodward crossing would operate with less delay.

If you are interested in supporting this, please attend this upcoming public meeting on February 13th. The details are below the fold.

Adding bike lanes to this section of Maple would connect the popular Eton Road cycling route to downtown Birmingham. It would also connect the transit center and Troy’s shopping district to downtown Birmingham as well.