Posts Tagged ‘ferry service’

Bicycling between Detroit and Windsor by bridge & ferry

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The push continues for a means of getting bicyclists between Detroit and Windsor. The two preferred routes are a planned ferry service and the new bridge.

On September 14th, cycling advocates from Windsor and Detroit helped kick off a Share the Bridge campaign. Their focus is to ensure bike access on the New International Trading Crossing (NITC) being promoted by Canada, the state of Michigan, and others. According to Member of Parliament Brian Masse:

“People want the new crossing to be an asset for the community as well as for the North American economy. By investing in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure on the new crossing we will create a signature feature that can have economic, environmental and cultural benefits for the region.”

A press conference was held along the Windsor side of the Detroit River. Masse led the event where he stressed the need for cycling advocates to make this happen. An excellent video from the event has been uploaded with this quote from Masse:

“We get one chance at this border crossing to do it right, and we don’t want to be like the other communities out there that are having to fight to go back and rework things.”

State Representative Rashida Tlaib of Detroit was also there with many other political and cycling supporters.

This event was covered by the Windsor Star, CBC, and OurWindsor.

The campaign asks not only for bicycling access on the bridge, but proper connections to the greenways planned on both sides of the border. Those connections are planned on the U.S. side but not on the Canadian side.

U.S. bridge plans

We’d written about this last December and even showed a bridge cross section design. It appears we were looking an alternative design. The final design has two 10-foot shoulders for bicyclists and a separated 5-foot sidewalk for pedestrians — or less confident bicyclists.

This design is what was in the Bridge Type Study Report and Conceptual Engineering Report. Both documents are referenced in the final Record of Decision and recently submitted Presidential Permit application.

We’ve asked for MDOT’s commitment to these plans, but they are unable to directly address them. Governor’s Rick Synder’s office is handling the project communications.

The Canadians are still unsure of Transport Canada’s commitment.

Will these U.S. plans coerce the Canadians into supporting bicyclists? No one seems to know.

Detroit River ferry service

Masse also visited the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority in August. His mission was to ensure that Canadian Customs could use this facility for the ferry service. Under this scenario, both customs would be on the U.S. side as is done elsewhere on the border.

The Windsor Star created a couple videos of the event.

The second video is of Steven Olinek, deputy director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority.

Detroit River ferry would help cyclists cross the border

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Detroit River ferry service was back in the news last week – the Windsor news that is.

This CBC video and article provide a good background on where we stand with ferry service, including its potential to help bicycle tourism.

Gord Orr with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island said the idea holds great promise.

“The potential of the bicycle tourism part of it is very exciting as we start to look at more trails and routes and see how we can increase more of that healthy lifestyle,” Orr said.

We agree. We need to connect the Detroit RiverWalk and Windsor River trail, as well as provide a crossing for the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route and future U.S. Bicycle Routes.

The CBC ran a similar article that spoke with MP Brian Masse of the Canadian Parliament.

“To me, this would be an exciting opportunity to put pedestrians and cyclists back and forth along the water,” Masse said. “Detroit has a marvellous waterfront now. They’ve worked hard on it and need to be commended for it. Ours, of course, is really nice and has been remodelled recently. This could be an exciting time to share both of our cultures again.”

The Windsor Star also chimed in with an article that also quoted Orr.

“I think that allowing passenger travel on ferry and bicycles included would also help the interest in cycle tourism. We have a number of trails to be enjoyed by cycle tourists and obviously this would eliminate the hassle of parking, crossing an international border at the tunnel or the bridge.”

It sounds like we’ve got the message out about the importance of this crossing, at least on the Canadian side.

What about the new bridge?

Progress continues to be made on a new Detroit/Windsor bridge – the NITC.

As mentioned earlier, the plans call for a bicycle/pedestrian path on one side of the bridge. We spoke with State Representative Rashida Talib. She said that if it’s in there, it’s unlikely MDOT can renege.

On the Windsor side, bicycle advocates are now making sure Canadian Customs is prepared to handle bike and pedestrian traffic. They also want to ensure their new greenways connect with the bridge. MTGA submitted comments to U.S. and Canadian officials asking that greenways are connected to the bridge.

Do cyclists need a bridge and ferry service? We think so. The bridge would be a 24/7 option, but it comes with a steep price – a steep climb. It’s also located a short distance away from the riverfront trails and downtowns. Ferry service would be more centrally located and you’d only have to climb on board a boat. However, ferry service might not be available year round. The bridge would also provide some amazing views.

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Bridge path a greenway?

Also, one suggestion is to create a name for this trail connecting Detroit and Windsor. Something like the International Freedom Trail sounds much better than just calling it the bike path on the bridge. Who could be against a trail with a name like that?

Or can you think of a better name?

Detroit River trails and ferries in the news

Monday, July 9th, 2012

It’s becoming increasingly challenging to highlight all the trail and bike media coverage for the city of Detroit.

We’re even seeing great photos like this one of regular people riding the “Dequinder” Cut in a Detroit News article about the weather.

Below are some updates primarily about the RiverWalk, ferry service, and TIGER grant.

Detroit RiverWalk’s 10th anniversary

The Free Press ran stories about the RiverWalk that were run during the RiverDays event. It’s great that Harriet Saperstein is part of the article as she’s been one of the longtime proponents of developing riverfront trails as well as other bicycling facilities throughout Detroit.

…Saperstein, who still visits the waterfront and Belle Isle on a regular basis from her Lafayette Park home, said the vision developed for the riverfront in the 1970s continues to motivate fans of the waterfront today.

“You stay patient and persistent, and you come at it again and again and again,” she said earlier this month.

The idea for Detroit riverfront trails is more than 10 years old. It pre-dates Saperstein and goes all the way back 113 years to Mayor Hazen Pingree.

The Free Press also created this video that interviews RiverWalk users.

Craig Fahle Show

Last Friday’s Craig Fahle Show included a more general discussion of trails and biking in Detroit, including changing perceptions of greenways, connecting greenways, the $10 million TIGER grant, public bike sharing, and more. A podcast of the show is available on-line.

Detroit & Windsor Ferry Service

This CBS Detroit article gives an optimistic update on ferry service between Detroit and Windsor, which may start as soon as next spring. As we’ve been saying for a few years now, this would be an ideal means for bicyclists to get across the Detroit River.

Detroit Port Authority Chairman Louis James told CBS Detroit this news.

“We’ve already been funded for the ferry, we have companies that are coming to us that own ferries who would like to contract with us, so I don’t really see any real cost at this time. We hope to have, as I said, private contractors to come in and operate them,” he said.

James said he views the ferry as being a People Mover on the water. He said there could be one big ferry or several smaller ferries along the river, transporting roughly 200 passengers at a time.

?This morning we had another inquiry from bicycle tourists looking to cross the river. We’re hoping to have a good answer for them soon.

Essex County Wide Active Transportation Study

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

The city of Detroit touches four counties. Most everyone can guess Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne, but the fourth? It’s Essex County in Ontario.

Essex has put together an impressive County Wide Active Transportation Study (CWATS) which looks to improve cycling throughout their region.

According to Bike Friendly Windsor:

The study aims to add a lot more bike lanes, multi-use trails and signed bike routes on county roads, and to also connect the county’s lanes with active transportation facilities neighbouring municipalities (like linking the Chrysler Greenway Trail to city routes).

The one missing piece seems to be biking links between Essex County and Detroit — whether that’s by the proposed ferry service or New International Trade Crossing bridge.

Earlier this month I submitted comments on this omission as MTGA’s Detroit Greenways Coordinator. We also provided four reasons why this cross border link is so valuable for cyclists.

Here are those submitted comments:


Detroit Riverwalk under construction at new port

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

The Detroit RiverWalk remains closed near Hart Plaza. This closure is due to the construction of the new port and wharf for cruise ships and ferry service.

There is a ribbon cutting being planned for June. However there’s a chance this section of RiverWalk will be opened closer to the beginning next month.

The Detroit Free Press recently had an article regarding this project.

The port authority is working with officials in Windsor, local businesses and private ferry consultants on a market study to determine the feasibility of ferry service between Detroit and Windsor, Kerr said. Service could begin as early as 2012.

Supporters say a ferry could have a built-in demand from tourists and an estimated 6,000 commuters who work in one country and live in the other, including about 4,000 health care workers.

As we mentioned before, this international ferry service would be invaluable for cyclists wanting to get between Detroit and Canada.