Posts Tagged ‘Safety’

White Lake: Sign of the times

Monday, February 20th, 2012

A Bogie Lake Road speed limit sign in White Lake Township with a complex times has caught international media attention. The Oakland Press reports that it “irks drivers.”

Carol Burkard, a White Lake Township Trustee, said she is confined to a wheelchair because of a car accident in 2003.

“I was the clerk of the township and had to have my leg amputated because somebody was not paying attention to the road,” she said.

“When I saw this ridiculous sign, I thought, the sign doesn’t make sense. It’s an endangerment.”

Yes, it’s a silly sign.

But what perhaps is more revealing, if not more disturbing, is the apparent lack of concern for local kids walking and biking safely to school.

According to the most recent Google Map aerials, there are no sidewalks along either side of Bogie Lake Road near the three schools. The north school entrance has a traffic signal with no crosswalks or walk/don’t walk signals. The east entrance has a crosswalk that does not meet ADA requirements and has no sidewalk connection to the schools or neighborhoods.

Sign from Oakland Press; Map from Google Maps

If you look at the aerials, you can see the well-worn walking paths through the grass that students take from their neighborhood to school.

So while the Road Commission for Oakland County has replaced the speed limit sign with something simpler, as far as we can tell, the kids unsafe and inconvenient walking routes remain.

Public meetings for two Detroit safety improvement projects

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

In 2010, the city of Detroit applied for road safety funding and were successful. Building on this success, Detroit applied for seven safety grants last year and received six. The city’s plan is to add Complete Streets features to these roads to improve safety.

There are two public information meetings this week to review the newly improved road designs.

We’ve seen the 7 Mile designs and they are mostly improved crosswalks, no bike lanes. Our suggestion will be to stripe the parking lane to make it a de facto bike lane when no parked cars are present.

From Detroit Traffic Engineering:

Monday, February 13, 2012, 6pm to 8pm

The meeting is at LA SED – Green Site, 7150 West Vernor, Detroit.

The Safety Improvement Project are:

  • Vernor Ave (Lansing to 20th Street) Corridor
  • Dix Ave (Woodmere to Waterman) Corridor
  • Central (W Vernor Hwy to McGraw Street)

FREE Raffle for restaurant gift certificates donated by El Nacimiento, courtesy of Rodrigo Padilla, and Nuestra Familia, courtesy of Jorge Canchola.

Come to this open house to learn more about plans for traffic and safety improvements along the three corridors, including new crosswalks, upgraded traffic?signals, and changes to striping and lane use on Vernor, Dix and Central. This project is intended to promote pedestrian and vehicular safety and the vitality of the area.

For more information, contact Ghassan Khalaf at 313-224-1268

Thursday, February 16, 2012, 6pm to 8pm

The meeting is at St. John Conner Creek Village, 4777 E. Outer Drive, Detroit.

The Safety Improvement Project are:

  • E. Seven Mile (I-75 W. Service Dr to Vandyke) Corridor
  • E. Seven Mile (Vandyke to Gratiot) Corridor

Come to this open house to learn more about plans for traffic and safety improvements along this corridor, including new crosswalks, upgraded traffic signals, and changes to striping and lane use on E. Seven Mile Corridor. This project is intended to promote pedestrian and vehicular safety and the vitality of the area.

For more information, please contact: Stella Kulangara at 313-224-1733

Bike lanes: Safety and Southwest Detroit

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Here’s a quick thought for Friday.

It’s not uncommon to hear those who don’t ride bicycles or those who are just starting out say they don’t feel comfortable in bike lanes. One often heard reason? It’s just paint separating you from the cars.

Ask them if they’ve drive on a two-way road? You know those yellow lines in the center? That’s paint. (Thank you, Edward Hines.)

Cars crossing the centerline and hitting others is common crash type, especially with drunk or distracted drivers.

Bicyclists getting hit from behind is not very common. Most car-bike crashes occur at intersections, and usually in crosswalks.

Perceptions create reality

One interesting feature of roads with bike lanes is cyclists perceive them to be safer, so more cyclists ride. When more cyclists ride, everyone is safer due to the safety in numbers hypothesis.

When you have more people on bikes and you have roads with bike markings and signs, drivers’ expectation of seeing cyclists increases — and they adapt their driving habits. Safety increases.

Benefits to others

There is a Detroit resident in Southwest Detroit campaigning against bike lanes there. Her issues have gone so far as City Council where yesterday it was on the agenda for the Neighborhood and Community Services Standing Committee.

In response, the City Planning Commission reviewed the bike lane issues and wrote a report for the committee. The report noted that bike lanes “help develop more travel choices in Detroit, enhance travel safety, and improve the city’s quality of life.”

We agree.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are many benefit to bike lanes and most have nothing to do with bicycling. This paper from the Oregon DOT documents them.

Yes, even motorists benefit — something that’s always worth mentioning when making your bike lane sales pitch in the Motor City.

Besides, it’s just paint.


Detroit safety projects to include bike lanes “where possible”

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Many of the bike lanes installed or currently being installed in the city of Detroit are the result of local community development organizations (CDO). These CDOs have found private funding to match MDOT transportation enhancement grants.

More recently, the city of Detroit has been championing bike lane projects funded through MDOT safety grants. These grants are available for roads having high levels of crashes, something Detroit has plenty of.

For 2011, the city received funding for a mile of West Vernor (Lansing Road to Waterman) in Southwest Detroit. That project will be completed this year and it includes a couple miles of bike lanes.

Detroit has gotten more ambitious for 2012. The city received six MDOT safety grants for these four road corridors:

  • Central Ave. from West Vernor to McGraw
  • East 7 Mile from the I-75 Service Drive to Gratiot
  • West Chicago from Spinozza to just west Monica
  • Dix from Waterman to Woodmere

The city has said they will put bike lanes on these road corridors wherever it is possible. For example, parts of Central are too narrow for bike lanes, so other options will be considered.

Overall, the city engineers recognize that adding bike lanes as well as other Complete Street designs improve overall safety for all road users.

The U.S. DOT’s BIKESAFE web site agrees:

Bike lanes have been found to provide more consistent separation between bicyclists and passing motorists than shared travel lanes. The presence of the bike lane stripe has also been shown from research to result in fewer erratic motor vehicle driver maneuvers, more predictable bicyclist riding behavior, and enhanced comfort levels for both motorists and bicyclists. The extra space created for bicyclists is also a benefit on congested roadways where bicyclists may be able to pass motor vehicles on the right.

Safety in Numbers

In addition, studies show bike lanes encourage more people to ride. One survey of Detroit residents found that:

  • Majority of respondents felt uncomfortable riding a bike on a major road without bike lanes and through areas with numerous vacant buildings.
  • 37% of respondents would be comfortable bicycling on a major roadway if a bike lane was present.

And, the more bicyclists on the road, the safer it is for everyone.

“It’s a positive effect but some people are surprised that injury rates don’t go up at the same rate of increases in cycling,” says Sydney University’s Dr Chris Rissel, co-author of a 2008 research report on cycling.

“It appears that motorists adjust their behaviour in the presence of increasing numbers of people bicycling because they expect or experience more people cycling. Also, rising cycling rates mean motorists are more likely to be cyclists, and therefore be more conscious of, and sympathetic towards, cyclists.”

Leading the region

So while some road agencies in Metro Detroit are just starting to discuss bike lanes, the city is pursing safety funding and putting paint on the road. Though the City may not have a Complete Streets ordinance or resolution (yet!), it is beginning to implement Complete Street designs.

Complete Streets in Oakland County

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

We just sent the following letter to Congressman Gary Peters asking his support for continued bike and pedestrian funding and HR 1780 — the federal Complete Streets bill.

The fatality numbers for Oakland County, which Peters represents a portion of, are quite compelling. There have been reductions in road fatalities among motor vehicle operators, but far less so for pedestrians and bicyclists.

For that reason, 29% of all road fatalities in Oakland County in 2010 are now pedestrians and bicyclists. This is an increase from 25% in 2009. The national average? Only 14% in 2009.

And for 2010 Oakland County’s bike and pedestrian fatality percentage is higher than Wayne and Macomb County’s.

Clearly something needs to be done to reduce bicycle and pedestrian deaths in Oakland County. Building Complete Streets needs to be a priority.

[Data sources: Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]

Here is our letter to Congressman Peters: