Posts Tagged ‘FHWA’

New Bridge inches forward

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

We previously discussed the plans for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge and whether it will accommodate bicycling.

Yesterday, the Federal Highway Administration made the following announcement:

Plans to build a second border crossing between Michigan and Ontario have received the necessary environmental approvals from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The “record of decision” (ROD), signed today by U.S. officials, represents the Detroit River International Crossing’s (DRIC) final environmental clearance and allows Michigan to begin right-of-way acquisition and construction planning for the bridge.

If completed, the project – including a plaza where tolls and U.S. border inspection activities will occur, and an interchange connecting it to I-75 – would span nearly seven miles. Under current estimates, the new crossing is expected to be open to traffic in 2013.

Prior to this announcement, MTGA and other groups (including the Detroit Mayor’s Office of Energy and Sustainability) submitted comments that encouraged biking and walking on the bridge.

These comments generally asked:

  • How does this project positively impact Detroit greenways and the City’s non-motorized plan?
  • How does the bridge accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians?

MTGA comments noted that not all of the greenways in the DRIC’s vicinity were included, nor was there any mention of Detroit’s non-motorized plan.  MDOT said they “will investigate ways to integrate these projects.”

MTGA also asked for clarification on how bicycle would be routed on the bridge.  (There is a sidewalk planned for pedestrians.)  MDOT  responded:

The accommodation for bicycles on the new river bridge is likely to be the right shoulder. When exiting the bridge, a bicyclist would remain to the right of traffic and proceed to a separate building near the primary processing booths for vehicles. After processing, there would be an exit to Jefferson Avenue. All of this is subject to the determination of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its Canadian counterpart to allow bicycle use of the new Detroit River bridge.

That last statement could be a deal killer, though it’s difficult to imagine how a bicycle could be any more of a threat than a car or truck.

Still,  it may make sense to involve folks like Senator Carl Levin early on.  Senator Levin has been a major supporter of the Detroit Riverwalk and there’s every reason to believe he would go to bat for allowing bicycling across the bridge.

What Bike Helmet Advocates Don’t Tell You

Monday, June 9th, 2008

If we’re going to make bicycling safer in the U.S., we need to be honest about what needs to be done.

The primary safety solution from many groups is to wear a helmet. But, according to research, wearing helmets is not the best way to improve bicycling safety. Creating safe bicycle facilities, increasing bicycle use, and educating users are the best means for improving safety. The results from the Netherlands support this. It’s one of the safest places to bike in the world yet almost no one wears helmets.

What do you call a cyclist wearing a helmet in the Netherlands? A tourist.

Helmet use Fatalities per 100 million trips
U.S. 38% 21
Germany 2% 8.2
Netherlands 0.1% 1.6

One study summarizes the six priorities that Germany and the Netherlands use to make biking so safe:

  • Better Facilities for Walking and Cycling
  • Traffic Calming of Residential Neighborhoods
  • Urban Design Oriented to People and Not Cars
  • Restrictions on Motor Vehicle Use
  • Traffic Education
  • Traffic Regulations and Enforcement

The big challenge in Metro Detroit is many road agencies and municipalities don’t know what better bicycling facilities are. For example, the Road Commission of Oakland County refuses to acknowledge much less use best practices for bicycling facilities. They ignore the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) guidelines for bicycling facilities. They ignore Federal Highway Administration guidance. They ignore bicycling safety studies that show their policies have been consistently found to be unsafe.

And similarly, many cities have followed the Road Commission’s lead. Rochester Hills and West Bloomfield have pursued wide sidewalks (ironically called “safety” paths) despite the overwhelming evidence that these are not safe options for cyclists.

If we truly want safe cycling, we need to start by forcing our local road agencies and municipalities to use best practices and provide safe non-motorized transportation options for cyclists. This should be our primary campaign. And that message needs to come from cyclists, citizens, AAA, medical professionals, health experts, the Traffic Improvement Association (TIA), and others.

This doesn’t mean helmet use should be discouraged. Helmets can lessen injuries when cyclists are hit. But it’s much better to prevent those “hits” in the first place.

FHWA Gives Award for Southeast Michigan Trail Efforts

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Congratulations to M-DOT, the GreenWays Initiative, and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance for their award and much-deserved recognition from the Federal Highway Administration.

MDOT honored for leadership role in GreenWays Initiative in Southeast Michigan: “A 100-mile network of non-motorized trails and greenways in southeast Michigan has been honored by the Federal Highway Administration.

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Kirk T. Steudle accepted the award for ‘exceptional environmental stewardship’ at the Nov. 29 State Transportation Commission meeting in Lansing. ‘This award reflects our commitment to making non-motorized trails available as a transportation mode,’ said Steudle. ‘Trails are a part of the transportation mix that is essential to protecting the health and well being of Michigan residents, and greenways contribute to enhancing quality of life.'”