Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Detroit Bike Shorts for the start of summer

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Put it in Gear

Portland puts a bird on it. Detroit puts a fist. PassingLeft has an neat Detroit bike T shirt for sale on Etsy.

Green Garage Update

Final construction is underway with the Green Garage in Midtown. The Garage will make it easy for tenants to bike to work.

The Green Garage added an indoor bike rack and a shower to their building plans as well. “If we are encouraging employees to bike into work here, it only makes sense that we give them everything they need to truly be green” Mrs. [Peggy] Brennan told me.

Could they become another Bicycle Friendly Business in Detroit?

Hostel Detroit Bike Pavilion

We saw this interesting slideshow about a Detroit Bike Pavilion and we had to learn more. They were good enough to write a summary of the project:

The Detroit Bike Pavilion is a Design/Build project run as a summer graduate studio as part of the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The project team consists of two professors and 9 graduate students, including myself. Our mission is to design, fabricate and install a (roughly) 300 sq/ft pavilion in Detroit which will act as a place to store bikes, hold concerts and other various community events.

Our client is Hostel Detroit, which is a non-profit organization recently established in the corktown region of Detroit. In addition to serving as a youth hostel, they routinely rent out bikes and thus are in need of a place to store them.

Detroit Bike City

Jason Hall from Bikes and Murder posted this article entitled Detroit Bike City. It highlights some of the Detroit bicycle scene.

We sometimes forget what the world is really like outside of our little bubbles. What I mean by that is when you’re in a car driving with your music up, it’s easy to forget to look around you and see what’s really going on. I had become a victim of that very thing. I would drive my car three blocks for a soda, a mile to see a friend. When I got on a bike I had to face realities and fears that keep us grounded. I saw neighborhoods I hadn’t EVER seen. Went places I had never even gone in a car. I soon became a converted bike rider.

Suburban Critical Mass

Yes, the Detroit Critical Mass is a great time. This Friday’s event already has 401 attending and 227 maybe attending on their Facebook page. It’ll be huge, but it’s not making much of a statement. It’s a city that’s already super bicycle friendly with city staff are becoming quite supportive of biking as transportation.

It’s quite the opposite story in most of the Detroit suburbs. That’s where a Critical Mass ride could serve its original intent.

So on July 22nd there will be the first Suburban Mass Ride starting at Royal Oak Farmers Market parking lot. It meets at 6:30pm and rolls out at 7pm. There is additional information on Facebook.

New Pistons owner

At a recent press conference, Piston’s owner Tom Gores noted the difficulty (Okay, near impossibility) of inner city families getting to the Palace of Auburn Hills without a car. He said he couldn’t see Piston games as a kid because he only had a bike to ride. Though Gores didn’t mention it, if the stadium was in Foxtown, those transportation hurdles go away.

Chicago’s mayor wants more bike lanes

Chicago’s new mayor, Rahm Emanuel is also a “bike enthusiast” and wants to add 100 miles of protected bike lanes in Chicago — the first of which just opened. He also wants Chicago to be the “bike friendliest city in the U.S.”. He cited bike facilities as an essential tool for quality of life and economic development.

Mopeds are the “ultimate gas savers?”

According to Tom Greenwood’s column in the Detroit News, mopeds are the ultimate gas savers. Really? More than bicycles, walking, electric vehicles, and public transit?

City of Detroit bike project updates

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Corktown/Mexicantown Greenlink

The Greater Corktown Development Corporation spearheaded this Greenlink plan that would make Detroit’s Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods some of the most bike friendly places in Michigan. Among other bike facilities, the plans include about 20 miles of bike lanes. The Tour-de-Troit has been raising money for this project for some time as well.

However, the Greater Corktown Development Corporation has suffered financial issues as reported by Crain’s Detroit Business, but the project is moving forward.

To continue work on the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink project to connect those communities to Detroit’s west riverfront, Greater Corktown has secured an agreement from Southwest Detroit Business Association to serve as the new fiduciary for the greenlink, a project it’s worked on for over five years.

SDBA is working with Greater Corktown, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan to combine as one project the greenlink, the Southwest Detroit/East Dearborn Greenway it’s been shepherding, and other walkway and bike path work the city has planned for west Vernor, said Kathleen Wendler, president of the business association.

“I like to think of it as SDBA adopting the infant we took care of for some time but are currently unable to raise,” said Kavanaugh, a freelance writer and co-owner of Wheelhouse Detroit Bike Shop.

Yesterday at Councilmember Ken Cockrel’s Green Task Force, Detroit Traffic Engineering said they still hope this project can begin by the end of this construction season. Detroit’s W. Vernor project (from Waterman to Lansing Street) is expected to be done this year — which also includes bike lanes and improvements to that unlit (and nearly unpaved!) railroad underpass west of Livernois.

Once these three projects are completed, there will be bike lanes all along W. Vernor. This will greatly improve access to the amazing restaurants and bakeries in Southwest Detroit — an unbeatable fueling station for cyclists.

Villages CDC Planning & Bike Ambassadors

Model D is reporting on a recent grant awarded to the Villages CDC which include non-motorized planning.

The Villages CDC has been awarded $215,000 from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan for greenways and bike lane planning and design. The money will also be used for community outreach and construction documents. Villages board member Kim Clayson hopes to complete this pre-development phase by February of next year.

While details are yet to be worked out, The Villages hopes to link its community up with other existing and planned greenways in Detroit, including the Dequindre Cut, Detroit RiverWalk and Conner Creek Greenway. Partners will include the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Creekside CDC, Jefferson East Business Association and Gleaners, since the agency is preliminarily planning a connection from its food bank to the Riverwalk.

Regarding the Gleaner’s Food Bank, they too received a grant for a feasibility study. That study will look at converting the abandoned railroad east of Beaufait into a trail. That railroad property runs from the Uniroyal site on the Detroit River (just west of the bridge) to Gratiot. This potential trail would also connect with the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and their Earthworks Farm.

The Villages CDC grant is also funding the development of a bike ambassador strategy for Detroit. The Active Transportation Alliance out of Chicago will be working with local stakeholders to develop this strategy based upon their successful program in Chicago: Mayor Daley’s Bicycling Ambassadors.

Mayor Daley’s Bicycling Ambassadors work toward the following objectives:

  • to increase the number of trips made by bicycle
  • to reduce the number of bicycle-related injuries
  • to help all users – bike riders, motorists, and pedestrians – better share roads and off-street trails.

To accomplish these goals, the Ambassadors appear at events throughout Chicago to reach as many Chicagoans as possible with bicycle safety education. Ambassadors talk face-to-face with Chicagoans and give presentations to kids, teens, and adults by participating in community events.

There are also Junior Ambassadors who “work with the Bicycling Ambassadors to deliver bicycle safety messages to their peers.”

There would certainly be many benefits having a similar program in Detroit, and thankfully the Villages CDC and the Community Foundation are planting that seed.

Bicycle Parking

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Center for Creative Studies' uncreative bike rack at the Taubman Center. Nudge, nudge.

The Wheelhouse Detroit blog has an excellent discussion of bicycle parking and racks.

As Detroit becomes more bike friendly, more and more businesses and institutions are installing bike racks — which is great, no doubt about it. What is frustrating, though, is to see funds and good intent wasted when, simply put, the bike rack is not functional. This occurs when the rack is poorly designed or poorly placed.

This is perfect timing as the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals released a second edition of their Bicycle Parking Guidelines. Their first edition is available on-line, but this second edition adds:

  • Guidance long-term bicycle parking
  • Elements of a good bike locker, including specific performance criteria
  • Maintenance best practices
  • Sample site plans and diagrams to help avoid blunders in rack and locker placement
  • Sample quantity requirements for bicycle parking to meet need by land use
  • A worksheet for programming bicycle parking for a building or cluster of buildings
  • Abundant images and charts to illustrate concepts and conditions

One issue is funding. Cities like Chicago rely on Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funding for much of their bike parking. SEMCOG’s CMAQ funding formula does not give the same priority to our non-motorized projects — something groups like MTGA want to change.

It also seems that once we find a funding mechanism, we can spur green job creation by having local steel workers creating bicycle racks. Why would a underemployed manufacturing city import these simple metal structures? We should be exporting bicycle racks.

Chicago Advocates, DNR Funding, and more

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

The recent reduction in posts to m-bike is largely due to the past eight days being absolutely packed with bicycle advocacy work in Detroit, Royal Oak, and across Michigan. Below is brief chronology for two of those days.

October 22nd: Royal Oak, Governor Milliken, the DNR and Detroit

Meeting with Senator Patty BirkholzThe Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) was in town. The city of Royal Oak is contracting with them to develop a non-motorized master plan. I joined them in a morning meeting for a very early discussion on this future planning process. The city is expecting their grant money, which is funding this effort, will be available very early next year. When that occurs, the planning will begin.

After lunch, I dragged our ATA consultants down to the Detroit RiverWalk. As mentioned earlier, Tri-Centennial State Park has been renamed to honor former Governor William G. Milliken. I took advantage of many opportunities to share our Detroit Greenways Network brochure with those attending the renaming ceremony.

Among those attending was Senator Patty Birkholz. The Senator is leading efforts to create a sustainable funding source for our state parks. She gave me a quick update on the Recreation Passport legislation she’d introduced earlier this year. Among other things, this legislation would add an optional $10 fee when registering vehicles. In return, there would be no fees to enter state parks. Senator Birkholz says she doesn’t expect any progress until A.B. (“after budget”.)

That evening we pulled together a small group for dinner for a discussion on bicycling in Detroit and how we can vastly improve it. The meeting was graciously hosted by John and Vivian Stroh. Vivian’s two younger brothers started a little cycling company called SRAM. The meeting was filled with great information and energy. It was a big help have both Carolyn Helmke, the ATA’s senior planner, and Randy Neufeld, the former ATA executive director and now manager of the SRAM Cycling Fund and president of America Bikes. They brought both a Chicago and a national perspective to the meeting.

But for me, one local perspective was my biggest takeaway. Tawanna Simpson from Detroit Bike Riders United told the story of her running for the Detroit School Board. She rode her bike to a nearby forum. Some voters said they wouldn’t vote for her because she rode her bike to the event and that wasn’t normal. This really highlighted the community outreach we need to do in Detroit and beyond. Biking shouldn’t be viewed as a last choice for transportation. It should be better than normal. The fact that Tawanna is a positive role model for kids riding their bikes to school should gain her votes, not lose them.

October 23rd: The Chicago experience and WDET

The morning was filled with a monthly meeting of the Detroit Greenways Coalition. Carolyn and Randy were able to join us and give a brief overview of their Chicago bicycling efforts with an emphasis on programming. It seems we have a good understanding of how to build proper and safe bicycling and walking facilities in Detroit, but we come up short in programming. How do we overcome the barriers to people bicycling more in the city? Chicago has a long track record of success, some of which we may try duplicating in Motown.

Another key takeaway? Chicago relies heavily on Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) federal funding. Much of the Metro Detroit CMAQ funding is allocated by SEMCOG and their prioritization formula makes bicycle projects not competitive. Nationwide, 13% of CMAQ projects are biking and walking related, while 0% are in Metro Detroit. We need to change that.

Later that afternoon, Randy and I were guests near the tail end of the Detroit Today program on WDET. A podcast of that radio interview is on their web site. Detroit Today’s host, Craig Fahle is a former bike mechanic from Alfred E. Bikes in Kalamazoo.

The day’s heavy downpour led us to cancel plans for a Detroit bicycle tour. Still, I managed to drive our Chicago guests around Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck to give them a quick overview of our cycling landscape. They gave some great cycling facility ideas along the way and were simply overwhelmed with the excessively wide and overbuilt roads.

Detroit is fortunate having another Midwestern city nearby that has invested so heavily in bicycling and walking. And while Randy mentioned how our situation is special and unique, there is still much opportunity to learn and apply what Chicago has done.

There really is no need to rebuild the bike wheel.

Green Highways: You can’t drive 55

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

600px-US_12.svgHere’s an interesting article from Time Magazine about making some lessor used Michigan highways more friendly to bikes, electric vehicles, and the like. One highway being looked at is U.S. 12 which connects Detroit and Chicago before continuing on to the Pacific coast.

Kim Gallagher has a plan for America’s “blue highways,” the thousands of miles of dusty, old single-lane heritage routes that wind desolately through the countryside: turn them green. Superseded by high-speed interstates, many of these narrow byways have been long forgotten, along with the faded small towns they connect, says Gallagher, a project manager for the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. But off-the-beaten-path America can be revived, she says, by transforming little-used roadways into “green highways” that cater specifically to electric-vehicle drivers and other slow-moving, eco-minded tourists traveling by bicycle or on foot.

This month, Gallagher and Peter Hanses, who manages 17 heritage routes for Michigan’s Department of Transportation, will attend a meeting with representatives from the communities along U.S. 12 to decide exactly that: whether to pass a resolution to make the old roadway the country’s first dedicated green corridor. U.S. 12 began as a patchwork of ancient Native American trails and became Michigan’s first paved road, stretching 212 miles from Detroit to Chicago, connecting 25 quaint towns, each about 12 miles (or, a day’s lazy horse ride) apart.

U.S. 12 is a Michigan heritage route, too.

It certainly would be great to have a long continuous designed bike route between Detroit and Chicago.