Posts Tagged ‘downsizing’

Sign of the times: Removing 15 traffic signals

Monday, November 15th, 2010

There’s been much discussion on Detroit’s overbuilt roads. The loss of people and their cars not to mention the construction of the Interstates has left the city’s streets feeling bare — an excellent condition for bicycling.

In that same vein, many of Detroit’s traffic controls are no longer appropriate for the low traffic volumes.

So in response, the Detroit City Council is considering the removal of 15 traffic lights tomorrow:

Brown, reso. autho. Traffic Signal Removal at 15 locations.  (There are fifteen (15) signalized intersections that are currently operating on full time “STOP control” mode for more than a year in compliance with the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD) and are scheduled for removal due to changes in traffic conditions.)

It seems some of these traffic lights haven’t been working for a while. Public Works has put up stop signs in their place.

And hopefully this removal effort is just a start. We’re guessing there are ten times more traffic lights that could be removed in Detroit.

This could make biking in the city just a tad quicker.

Monday’s Detroit Bike News

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Vandals mar new pedestrian bridge in Detroit

The Detroit News is reporting on some vandalism which has already occurred on our recently opened bike/ped bridge in Mexicantown.

Less than a day after it opened, the Mexicantown Bagley Avenue Pedestrian Bridge was vandalized, Michigan Department of Transportation officials said.

Numerous individuals have “tagged” the $5 million bridge with spray paint and used knives to carve into a wooden bench in the middle of the span. Others signed their names with pens and magic markers on the bench, officials said.

In fact, an MDOT employee’s video camera caught one woman as she used a colored pen to scrawl on a bench in the middle of the 400-foot-long bridge.

“Yes, it was me,” said Oneita Jackson, a copy editor at the Detroit Free Press and author of Sunday’s “O Street”?blog.

Unbelievably pathetic.

10 tips for downsizing Detroit

Free Press Business Writer John Gallagher lists tips for rightsizing Detroit. He saved the best for last.

10. Use greening strategies to reinvent Detroit.

With so much excess land available, the city has the option to become a much more earth-friendly, environmentally sustainable place. Use the vacancy to lace the city with greenways, bicycle lanes, nature trails, pocket parks, urban farms and wildlife habitats.

Michigan lawmaker plans Arizona-like immigration bill

One state legislator is intent on stopping the illegal inflow of Canadians into Michigan according to a Free Press article.

A Michigan lawmaker believes the state’s law enforcement officers need the authority to arrest illegal immigrants and is drafting legislation similar to Arizona’s new immigration law.

Rep. Kim Meltzer, R-Clinton Township, said her bill would allow police to request proof of citizenship from people who are stopped and questioned on another offense, such as a traffic violation or selling fraudulent identity documents. Officers would have the authority to arrest people who can’t prove their legal status.

Okay, we’re kidding about the Canadians.

Still, if you roll through a stop sign on your bike and don’t have your driver’s license, it sounds like the police would have the option to arrest you.

Do you always bike with a driver’s license?

Spring is here: Detroit biking in the media

Friday, March 26th, 2010

W. Vernor improvements to target pedestrian safety, add bike lanes

Model D has published follow up to the open house we mentioned earlier in Southwest Detroit.

Concepts shared at the Open House include the installation of bike lanes on W. Vernor between Waterman and Lansing, which would mean narrowing the road down in some areas to one lane of vehicular traffic; redoing the street surface and water and sewage lines on the stretch of W. Vernor that passes under the viaduct just east the W. Vernor/Dix/Waterman intersection, as well as the installation of new sidewalks and lighting; the incorporation of a left-turn lane on eastbound W. Vernor at Livernois to prevent illegal and unsafe turns; and improving lane configuration at the W. Vernor/Dix/Waterman intersection to prevent lane jockeying.

Plans will be submitted for approval to the Michigan Department of Transportation this month in the hope that construction can begin this year.

All total this will be about two miles of bike lanes (1 mile westbound, 1 mile eastbound.) Plans also call for lighting underneath the viaduct.

Sounds like a Complete Street to us!

Sharing Woodward Avenue

Metromode has an article on returning Woodward Avenue to a Complete Street.

That means making the thoroughfare friendly to all forms of transportation, like pedestrians, bicyclists, trains and automobiles. It also means building density and economic opportunity along Michigan’s Main Street. The belief is that by making Woodward less car-dominant it can grow into one of Metro Detroit’s primary economic engines.

“The time has come,” says Heather Carmona, executive director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association, a non-profit that advocates for the avenue. “The irony is decades ago Woodward was a transportation-inclusive corridor, but it lost that with the rise of the automotive industry. However, it’s coming back full circle.”

Detroit Has to Demolish Before it Can Rebuild

ABC News has a story on Mayor Bing’s efforts to rebuild and reinvent Detroit.

Demographer Kurt Metzger envisions small urban villages connected by parks and bike paths.

“We could become the greenest city in the country because of the land that we have if we start to manage it correctly,” he said.

We share that vision as do many others. While the Mayor in his recent state of the city address did not specifically say bike paths and greenways, he did mention “parks and green space” twice:

Strengthening our city will take a long-term strategy for how we use Detroit’s 140 square miles more productively. The harsh reality is that some areas are no longer viable neighborhoods with the population loss and financial situation our city faces. But instead of looking at our land as a liability, we need to begin to think creatively about how it can be a resource as we rebuild our city. That conversation is in its initial stages but let me take a moment to dispel some myths out there.

We’re not giving away or selling any neighborhoods to anyone. This is about determining what areas of our city are best suited for residential use, commercial and industrial businesses, parks and green space.

When I imagine Detroit’s future, I see a city with vibrant neighborhoods, with retail and grocery stores, a city that’s home to thriving small businesses, better mass transit and community parks and green space. But it will take all of us to make that happen and it’s a process that will not happen overnight.

And he also mentioned Detroit’s Safe Routes to School effort.

Downsizing Detroit

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Photo by CDAD

Detroit’s been downsizing for the last 50 years. It’s not a question of whether to downsize or not, but a question of managing it or letting it continue happening organically.

The topic has been discussed and studied, especially during the past year, some of which we covered. Groups like Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) and the WARM Training Center have been at the forefront.

After the election of Mayor Dave Bing, there didn’t seem to be much talk on this topic. The priority and focus were primarily on city finances.

That’s beginning to change.

The Mayor spoke about downsizing at a recent Community Development Conference. This will receive more attention beginning in 2010.

From CDAD:
“We don’t have the luxury of targeting specific areas within our city, Bing told the crowd. There’s been a lot of effort given to those who have the least-but everybody is hurting. Good neighborhoods are slipping-and they need help too.” Bing noted that Detroit is currently using about 50% of its 139 square miles, and stated that within six to twelve months, Detroit will have a long-term land-use plan for the city of Detroit.

Mayor Bing stated that the development and execution of a long-term plan for the city will require community involvement. “We must be open to the community-be very inclusive and get help with our priorities,” Bing stated.

Also included in the conference were round table discussions on various topics related to the reshaping of Detroit. In my role as MTGA Detroit Greenways Coordinator, I led discussions on non-motorized transportation and greenways.

Can Detroit be Saved?

Mayor Bing also reiterated similar comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Bing is brimming with other ideas to make Detroit more livable. One challenge he faces is how to successfully downsize. “We have a city that still has a footprint from when we had almost two million people. In the 2010 census, we’ll be lucky if we’ve got half of that population with the same footprint and infrastructure.”

He wants to tear down buildings and dilapidated homes and convert thousands of acres to “parks and greenspace.” He also wants to privatize public services to save money and create a new cosmopolitan environment that will attract middle-class and affluent families that have fled to the suburbs.

As noted at the CDAD conference, greening the city’s abandonments and brownfields would give Detroit one of the highest ratios of greenspace-to-residents among large U.S. cities.

Not just Bing

This summer, then city council candidate Charles Pugh asked us what role greenways can play in the downsizing of Detroit.

Now as council president, Pugh addressed CDAD members on downsizing.

“The city of Detroit needs a clearer vision as to where we’re going in our city. We need to pack in and create more density where there is density, and decide what happens with the areas where there is lower density. We have to put out a vision for how we are going to reshape this city.”

This is exciting to hear as downsizing is not politically popular. You don’t have ribbon cutting ceremonies for closing things down and letting areas revert to more natural states.

Still, we would certainly welcome ribbon cuttings for more greenspace and trails.