Posts Tagged ‘Ken Cockrel Jr.’

Detroit Elections & Biking

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

City of DetroitDetroit City Council has been quite supportive of biking, walking, and greenway efforts within the city. And we’ve been quite fortunate to have a cycling advocate in Ken Cockrel Jr. as Council President to lead the way.

With the recent Detroit elections, the nine-person council will welcome five new members. Will there be the same support for our issues, especially with Cockrel no longer serving as president?

Prior to Tuesday’s election, Model D interviewed the candidates. One question in particular provided a gauge for where the candidates stood on biking and walking.

Many thriving cities in the U.S. have a reputation for sustainability via recycling, green building incentives, complete streets that promote biking and walking, and robust mass transit. Discuss your thoughts and priorities on these matters.

Here are excerpts from responses given by some candidates who won a seat on the council.

Charles Pugh

“We should look at re-zoning certain sparsely used parts of the city for bike trails and park use. The Dequindre Cut is very encouraging and should be used as a model for how we transform future plots of land.”

Gary Brown

“Public-private partnerships have been instrumental in building greenways in Detroit, such as the RiverWalk, Dequindre Cut and Conner Creek.”

Saunteel Jenkins

“The Dequindre Cut is a great example of one of the things we’ve done right here in Detroit to promote walking and biking. Now we need to amend that concept to create the same kind of walking and biking trails in city parks like River Rouge and Palmer Park. I would like to see a project like this funded and implemented through partnerships with businesses and non-profits.”

Ken Cockrel Jr.

“This has been a major focus of mine. As Council President, I sponsored and passed a resolution urging the city to implement a ‘non-motorized plan’ for the development more bike and walking paths. “

Kwame Kenyatta

“The young, talented, best and brightest usually leave Detroit for major cities that boast a commitment to biking, walking, robust mass transit and green building initiatives… Biking and walking paths must be developed in concert with this.”

Jo Ann Watson

“Detroit must become one of those cities.”

Mayor Dave Bing also responded to the survey by adding, “Detroit certainly needs to become more of a ‘green’ city.”

Throughout the entire Metro Detroit Tri-County area, there probably isn’t another elected body that better recognizes the importance of biking, walking, and greenways. That’s exciting.

One poster on a popular Detroit forum was concerned that the city saw biking as just a white urban hipster activity. These responses should allay those fears.

Pedal Press around Metro Detroit: September 1st, 2009

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

m-bike is still here! We’ve been enjoying (and recovering from) a crazy adventure in Colorado for the past couple weeks…

Here’s a collection of recent media coverage regarding trails and biking across Metro Detroit.

Orion Township

The Oakland Press is reporting on improvements to the Polly Ann Trail extension. This extension runs from the south border of the Indianwood Golf Course to just south of Waldon. This is 3.5 miles in total. The new surface is apparently crushed limestone similar to the Paint Creek.

Unfortunately Orion Township is still pushing side paths (known as safety paths in Oakland County) as bicycling facilities despite the national guidelines saying they shouldn’t be. While sidepaths and sidewalks are fine for pedestrians and less skilled riders, they should not be designated bicycle facilities. Instead the township should be calling for safe on-road bicycling facilities that meet the AASHTO national guidelines.

Shelby Township

The Free Press gave brief mention to the trail construction underway in Shelby Township as part of the much larger Macomb Trail Loop.

Construction is under way for a hiking and bike trail that is designed to eventually link to a loop around central and northern Macomb County.

Crews are building a 1-mile trail in River Bends Park near 22 Mile and Shelby Road in Shelby Township that will link up with a trail that runs along the Clinton River in Dodge Park in Sterling Heights.

Leaders plan to eventually have a 70-mile trail loop. So far, 44 miles are completed.

Detroit RiverWalk

Crain’s Detroit Business has thorough article on the Detroit RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut — they’re current status, planned construction, and future developments.

The pace of private investment in the riverfront district has slowed with the economy, but plans to bring aesthetic improvement and ease accessibility to the river are to be finished or expanded.

Current public space improvements will serve as a foundation for renewed private development on the water once the economy rebounds, said Faye Alexander Nelson, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Two of the six major residential developments that were in the planning process in 2007 are still moving; one has been reconfigured as an office/industrial building.

The DNR is also continuing to move forward with future enhancements to Tri-Centennial State Park next to the Rivard Plaza. The next phase will certainly include yet another RiverWalk path extension and an improved connection to the Dequindre Cut.

Detroit’s Green Task Force

M-Live has a great written and audio coverage of Detroit’s Green Task Force, which headed by Detroit Council President Ken Cockrel, Jr.

Bicycle trails and greenways trough out the City of Detroit are part of the Green Task Force’s non-motorized plans.

“At least during the warm weather months, I like to bike a lot, and I’m a big fan of the Dequindre Cut, the new trail opened up earlier this year for walkers, joggers and bikers,” Cockrel says. “And we want to do more of that in Detroit.”

Yes we do want to do more of that! In fact, in my role as Detroit Greenways Coordinator for MTGA, we recently proposed an eight-figure stimulus request which would effectively extend the Dequindre Cut around the city’s midsection. While this proposal is not looking too likely today, there is a great deal of interest among many parties to make it happen somehow.

Pizza Super Highway

Model D has a very cool article on Detroiter Karen Gage. Given that Karen’s an owner of Wheelhouse Detroit, it’s no surprise bicycling is entertwined in her daily routine.

Noon: A slice at Supino Pizzeria in Eastern Market. If she can squeeze it in, she loves to grab lunch at this relatively new spot next to the region’s premier farmers market. “It is hands down the best pizza I’ve ever had,” she says. The Wheelhouse crew often bikes there on the Dequindre Cut bike path, which opened this year. With graffiti encouraged, the $3 million, 1.2 mile greenway replaced a former depressed rail corridor. And now Karen and the bike shop crew call it their “pizza super highway.”

With her job at the New Center Council, Gage is also active in promoting non-motorized transportation, including potential bike lanes along Second Avenue, which would connect the Fisher Building to the Wayne State Campus.

Getting Outdoors

And finally, the Detroit News is reminding everyone to get outside as summer wraps up and take advantage of the many opportunties that we have in Metro Detroit. Our favorite quote is from another Wheelhouse Detroit owner.

“Biking is absolutely the best way to see Detroit,” says Kelli Kavanaugh of Wheelhouse Detroit, which rents bikes and also provides bike tours of the city. “It’s flat and fast and, since our roads were built for a population of 2 million, there is plenty of room on them for bikes,” Kavanaugh says. “It’s healthy … it’s green, and most of all it is super fun.”

Greening the Heartland

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

greening-heartlandThe 2009 Greening the Heartland conference wrapped up in Detroit yesterday.

AmericaJR covered the event and recorded Council President Ken Cockrel Jr.’s welcome address. In it, Cockrel highlighted Detroit’s green efforts, including our non-motorized transportation master planning efforts.

Of course we are the Motor City… We want to encourage people to get out of their cars and look at alternative forms of transportation.

Regular readers of m-bike know of Cockrel’s strong support for making Detroit more bike friendly. And clearly that support continues despite his recent mayoral election loss.

Also at the conference was renowned environmental activist David Suzuki. In his keynote speach, he spoke of growing up in nearby Leamington, Ontario and how he enjoyed visits to the Detroit Zoo.

The Detroit Zoo is looking to create a green plan in partnership with Detroit Edison. This plan would likely include improving non-motorized access to the zoo — a topic we’ll soon write about in greater detail.

National Bike Summit Breakfast: Day Three

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

img_2189Thursday began with a National Bike Summit breakfast. I took the opportunity to speak briefly with Congressman Earl Blumenauer about biking and walking in Detroit.

I didn’t need to provide much background.

He immediately noted how his cycling city roll-model Portland is different in that it’s a growing city, whereas cities like St. Louis, Detroit, and others are dealing with shrinking populations, jobs, vacant land, and more.

I spoke about the collective effort with the support of Mayor Cockrel to reinvent Detroit as a green city, where biking and walking are a strong component. I noted our non-motorized plan, greenways network vision, and our application for Active Transportation 2010 funding.

He added that we need to make sure our bike solutions at the federal level are not one-size-fits-all.

Although it seemed longer, it was perhaps only a minute of conversation. Still, it was one of the most rewarding minutes during my stint at this summit. It was very good to know that one of the primary congressional leaders in biking and walking advocacy was already on point with urban non-motorized perspectives outside of the Portland’s and Boulder’s of the world.

After our discuss, Congresssman Blumenauer addressed the entire group on his new Multimodal Commuter Credit legislation. It basically addresses some flaws in the current implementation of bike commuter tax credit and provides more flexibility.

Why was the bike commuter act flawed from the start? asked Blumenauer’s staffer Tyler Frisbee that question.

Frisbee said the reason is that it was passed as part of the financial bailout package, “instead of a more orderly process.”

We reported on this back in October. Blumenauer’s bike commuter bill was added to the bank bailout bill perhaps to garner his vote — it didn’t work. He voted against the bailout and the commuter language was flawed.

Fortunately the Congressman’s commited to correcting these flaws.

Detroit Mayor’s Office and Biking

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Much has changed since last summer.  Al Fields, our main go-to guy for bike issues within the May0r’s Office left for a job at DTE.   We struggled to find a friendly ear to help us move things forward.

The change in Mayors solved that problem.  Not only is Mayor Cockrel pushing a green agenda, he’s a cyclist.

And near the end of last year he created the Office of Energy and Sustainability.  One of their key initiatives?

Promote implementation of the city of Detroit’s master plan, which will include the non-motorized plan, and many other pedestrian friendly initiatives, bike paths, parks, etc.

And more positive news?  The City of Detroit has completed the grant application for 16 miles of bike lanes and trails for Corktown.

With the upcoming mayoral primary election this month, the Metro Times has interviewed many of the candidates.  It was somewhat of a surprise seeing biking mentioned by a couple candidates.

  • Before November, candidate Nicholas Hood III promises to “establish a series of free ‘healthy activities’ for the city such as city wide bike ride / walk with the mayor.”
  • To reduce our dependence on foreign oil, candidate Sharon McPhail proposes “bike Lanes on all main roads with a system of high level fines for anyone found driving in them.”

Much has changed.