Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

Birmingham surveys biking and walking interest

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Rebounding after a very public Complete Streets battle over Maple Road, the city of Birmingham is developing a transit and non-motorized transportation plan not unlike what other cities have done in Detroit, Royal Oak, and Novi.

A public survey was used to collect information for the plan. The Birmingham Patch reported the results.

Overall, the survey found that most of the responses were similar to those found in similar communities across the U.S. People want better to bike and walk more.

However, we’re not sure there’s much value in some survey answers. For instance, the survey asks people to evaluate bicycle facilities that don’t exist in the community or even Metro Detroit. How comfortable are you riding in a cycletrack? We’re not sure we could have answered that until we’d spent some time riding them in Montreal earlier this year.

We’d rather see cities just build bike facilities according to best practices and available funding. Best practices include designing the safest option that best meets the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. That’s basically what’s done for motorized transportation planning.

As an example, a survey of local community residents probably would not have shown much support for the Dequindre Cut before it was built. People vehemently said there would not go into that ditch. It took conceptual drawings, community Q & A meetings, and just building it to change minds. Now the community is asking when it will be extended.

It’s challenging for people to evaluate something they’ve never seen or used, or at least not seen in their community. It takes visionary leaders to absorb the community needs and build the best practices infrastructure to meet them.

Moving forward

This planning effort really shows how Birmingham moving in a positive direction for those who walk and bike. We’re excited to see where it takes them.

Among the communities in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties, Detroit is still at the top for their non-motorized efforts and lengthening their lead on the other cities. With its citywide bike network and improved bike parking, Ferndale is in second. Novi and Royal Oak are stepping up. Birmingham, Warren, Pontiac and Dearborn are making moves — and don’t count out Berkley.

Also, the new Woodward Complete Streets project will help knit many of these efforts together. It’ll be interesting to see where we are a few years down the road — or cycletrack.