Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland’

Effective road safety education

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

If only the Michigan Driver’s Test had a question on cycling driver’s might know to respect us…

Ah, right. We’ve heard this many times. Bicycle advocates even spent political capital trying unsuccessfully to get this put into state law.

We think it’s mostly a waste of time and here’s why. Most people learn driving habits at an early, impressionable age. Teenagers don’t show up for driver’s education with a blank state of mind. Chances are they’ve been in cars their entire lives and learned the basics of driving from observing others. A couple questions won’t change a

And that’s why it’s important to teach road skills early.

Some schools in Europe have classes for young students that teach safe cycling and walking skills on miniature road courses. Cleveland has something similar with their Safety City.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has a design for a very cool traffic garden as shown in the photo. Wouldn’t this be a neat training area around Detroit, perhaps located close to schools or parks or the Detroit RiverWalk? With the proper signs and designs, young cyclists and pedestrians could learn how to safely share our public road spaces through playing.

Through MTGA, we initiated some discussions on how to fund such infrastructure. Perhaps Safe Routes to School is the best fit.

Interestingly enough, it was also recently discussed at the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission.

With all the bike lanes and sharrows being added to Detroit streets, one of more traffic gardens could be one means for improving public education on safely sharing our streets.


Your thoughts on a Detroit bicycle & greenway map

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

What would be helpful information to include on a Southwest Detroit greenway/bicycle map?

Schools, libraries, transit stops, bike shops, and parks are commonly shown on such maps.

We’ve reviewed maps from six different cities (Austin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Montreal, and St. Louis) and compiled a list of what each includes.

Each are unique. Austin’s map shows swimming pools. Chicago highlights open metal grate bridges. Montreal and Boston show ferry service. Austin and Cleveland show how steep the roads are.

All of the maps show off-road trails. Except for Austin, all of the maps show the types of bicycle facilities on the roads, e.g. bike lanes, bike routes, etc.

The Austin map is unique in that it doesn’t show the facilities. Instead it assigns a comfort level to the road based on the existing bicycle facilities.

The roads marked HIGHcomfort level have either bicycle accommodations or low traffic volumes and speeds. On MEDIUM sections, you may find bicycle accommodations on high-speed roads, or shared-lanes on roads with moderate speeds and volumes. The LOW comfort level designates important connections with traffic volumes and speeds, and no bicycle accommodations. VERY LOW roads are not recommended for bike travel, but may still be necessary for some trips.

Of course the provide a disclaimer as well.

Cleveland’s map employs a similar mechanism based on bicycle skill level: basic, intermediate, experienced. They also highlight roads “no suitable for bicyclist but there may be no alternative route.” Of course they define what each skill level means.

Best Approach?

What do you think makes a bicycle and greenway map most useful?

It would be easiest putting only the bicycle facilities on the map, but designating roads by comfort level or bicycle skill level adds more information and is in more layman terms. It’s more work to do the latter – more data collection from cyclists, more vetting of preferred routes.

However, with so many of the city of Detroit streets having high comfort but not bicycle accommodations, perhaps this would produce a better map.

What are your thoughts?

Detroit biking articles all over the local media

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

A couple weeks ago we wrote about seven different biking articles that ran in the Detroit media.

Well here’s another nine!

Cycling for Health

Our friend and longtime Detroit cyclist Cassandra Spratling wrote this article in the Detroit Free Press. The Daley’s adoption of biking as transportation — and how they lost 210 pounds between them — is quite a story.

When Don and Darla Daley dine at restaurants near their Royal Oak home, they no longer drive their car.

It’s the same with quick trips to the store or nearby Royal Oak Farmers Market. They hop on the bicycles they bought two years ago — their favorite form of recreation and exercise.

“I never thought I’d love it as much as I do,” Darla Daley says. “Other bikers wave at you. It’s just fun.”

There are other health success stories included here as well.

Cycling for Green Jobs

The Free Press also ran this story on Vanita Mistry and her Detroit Greencycle company that provides curbside recycling.

Four days a week before heading out to her day job, Mistry straps an 8-foot trailer to her mountain bike and pedals for several hours through a number of Detroit neighborhoods, including Clark Park, the Eastern Market district and Corktown to pick up recyclables and compost from her regular customers.

She totes twelve 18-gallon bins on her trailer, with a capacity to carry up to 300 pounds. Mistry separates plastic, cardboard, paper, glass and aluminum. She also collects composting material.

“I find that I’m driven more by public service and giving back,” Mistry said. “What motivates me is knowing I’m making a difference in the work I’m doing, and I’ve found that Greencycle is one of many ways I strive to make a difference in my community.”

Next, the Huffington Post continues their series on Detroit biking with an interesting look at the city’s bike messenger history.

CBS Detroit also joined in with this article on Shane O’Keefe’s Hot Spokes food delivery company.

O’Keefe said it’s sometimes a challenge to balance several meals inside his thermal bike box and his hands, but he does it. O’Keefe said they’ll deliver in any weather — even deep snow.

The last time they could not make a delivery was more than two winters ago during a major snow storm.

O’Keefe said he does not own a car and he’s glad he doesn’t have to pay for gas while trying to run a delivery business.

Critical Mass

Again, the Huffington Post published this article, Detroit Critical Mass Helps Area Cyclists Find Common Ground On City Streets. It accurately paints a mixed view on how successful this ride is. Interestingly, the critics aren’t motorists, but other Detroit cyclists. We’ve heard from critics of this popular ride as well: it’s too fast, too long, too organized, and it caters too much to suburban cyclists who drive to the city for the ride.

Ironically enough, the Detroit Critical Mass ride was moved to this location in part because of its free car parking. The bike lanes being installed this year eliminate much of that free parking. Will Critical Mass move again because of the bike lanes?

A View from Below

The Lakewood Observer from the Cleveland-area published, The Detroit Comparison: Sam Willsey’s Recent Cycling Experience. It’s an interesting article that gives the impression that Detroit is ahead of Cleveland in terms of adding bike lanes and trails. We’re not sure how both cities compare, but it seems we have much lower traffic on our streets.

The article does get a couple things wrong. We do have a bike advocacy group — the Detroit Greenways Coalition. And, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is not proposing or significantly funding these projects. Non-profits and the City are the ones proposing, while funding comes from a variety of state, local, and philanthropic sources.

A Bicycle Lending Library

Stories about Fender Bender’s plan for a community-based bike share program were published in both Mode Shift and the Huffington Post.

From Mode Shift:

Like any bike sharing program, The Bicycle Lending Library will rent bikes out from one to four days with the single-day rental being the most “expensive” and adding days will make the rental cheaper. [Sarah] Sidelko says the program is going to be very affordable, but does not have the specific dollar amounts worked out yet.

In addition to renting a bicycle, the Library will also lend out a helmet, a bike light and lock and a map of Detroit, which will have an emphasis on bike lanes and greenways, and will have other prominent destinations peppered in.

Detroit Cycling History

The Huffington Post rounded out their bike series by touching on the city’s rich cycling history. The article is primarily an interview with the Hub’s Jack Van Dyke.

And on a related note, the web site Roads were not Built for Cars ran this story on Henry Ford and his connection to cycling back in the day. The web site’s author Carlton Reid was recently in Detroit. We had the opportunity to give him a bike tour that connected our cycling history. During our ride he asked, “Are we downtown?”. Yes we were. It was midday on a Friday and the streets were ours. There was very little traffic. He was rather impressed and said, “This is the cycling city of the future.”

Urban Pathways Initiative in Cleveland

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

I spent time last week at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Urban Pathways Initiative in Cleveland, Ohio. This was their second summit with last year’s being in New Orleans.

This was a very good opportunity to learn what others are doing to making biking and walking more prevalent in urban centers primarily through building trails. Too often trail building discussions focus on the easier-to-implement trails in more rural or suburban environments. This conference looks at trail building in urban areas where greater density and land use creates more challenges.

Many low-income populations and communities of color in urban areas confront the problems of obesity, congestion and scarcity of open space on a
daily basis. Promoting neighborhood use of shareduse pathways can help address these challenges.

Also, this pathways summit was an opportunity to present on all our positive efforts in Detroit. There was a Detroit-specific panel while I presented on another regarding stewardship and partnership.

Here are some of the big takeaways.

Building Diversity

The U.S. bicycle advocacy movement is mostly white. Some national organizations talk the talk, but it seems only the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is walking the walk. They are not only sensitive to the lack of diversity, they’re are trying to do something about it – though they admittedly acknowledge that they have much to learn.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) advocates for equitable investment in underserved communities while promoting the health, transportation and environmental benefits of trail use. RTC staff has engaged local partners, focusing on programs and improvements that enhance access and foster community ownership of trails in urban areas.

There was a session on lessons learned in communities of color. It brought forward some interesting perspectives from Compton, Camden, Milwaukee, and more. Much of the discussion was on increasing participation in bicycling and less on diversifying our organizations, which is also critical.

Pedal for Prizes

This was one of the more unique bike-oriented events we heard about. It’s like an alley cat with less mayhem that can build support for local business.

Registration will begin at 11:30am, and riders will be sent off with their maps and stamp cards in tow at 12:30pm sharp.  Ride your bike to as many of our twenty-two destinations as you’d like until 3pm.  Make your way back to Loew Park by 3:30pm to turn in your card for raffle tickets that you can put towards any of seventy-five prizes valued anywhere between $10 and $625 that will be displayed on a table.

There is more information on the Pedal for Prizes web site.

Cleveland, Ohio

In my short stay, Cleveland struck me as a smaller, cleaner, less vacant city with better transit. On the flip side, their Lakefront Bikeway was disappointing. The pavement condition was horrific.

However, they do have tremendous amount of bike parking within their downtown. It was mostly simple, no-nonsense loops that just work.

I also visited their Morgana Run trail, which is quite promising except for their road crossing treatments. It seems Detroit’s traffic engineers are much further ahead when it comes to on-road designs.

Cleveland: raising the bike advocacy bar

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The recent Cleveland protests over the Ohio Department of Transportation ignoring cycling certain echoes recent experiences with MDOT. From their Fort Street project to a Michigan Avenue repaving to the I-94 expansion, MDOT is ignoring Detroit’s non-motorized transportation master plan — a topic on the agenda for the next MDOT Metro Region non-motorized meeting in March.

But back to Cleveland, their protest has a cool video and song. Maybe that’s what we need to better get our basic message out.

We don’t need non-credible excuses or a willingness to listen. We need a consistent commitment to make Detroit a better place to walk and bike.