Posts Tagged ‘SMART’

Our Economic Stimulus Bike Projects

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

img_1255The first round of Metro Detroit’s transportation stimulus checks are in the mail and some are for major bike projects.

This funding is mostly from 3% transportation enhancements sub-allocation, which is $25.4 million for all of Michigan.

I-275 Bike Path (MDOT)

The original $10 million request to recontruct the bike path was reduced to two requests. The first is for $4 million. The second is for $5 million and will only be available if Michigan can recover unused road funds from other states.

Clinton River Trail Bridge (Pontiac)

This bridge at Telegraph and Orchard Lake Road has been long awaited. It will connect the two developed rail-trail segments on both sides of Telegraph. The funding amount is $2.1 million.

Midtown Loop (Detroit)

This $2.3 million in funding is going towards Phase I of the Midtown Loop, a 2-mile walking and (casual) biking loop through Wayne State and cultural center. It’s expected that this stimulus money will push previously secured funding into the second phase and possibly help fund the connector between this project and the Dequindre Cut.


These projects are aimed at making a road more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly. For example, the Woodward project includes “sidewalks, tree planting, street lights, trash receptacles, bike racks.”

  • Woodward in Detroit between I-94 and Euclid (MDOT)
  • Monroe and Brush Streets in Greektown, Detroit
  • Michigan Avenue in Detroit between Cass and Woodward
  • Shelby Street in Detroit between State and Griswold

Transit-Related Projects

Both DDOT and SMART are receiving funds to improve/build bus shelters and related amenities. We’ll contact both to determine whether these projects include bike racks. DDOT has been pursuing bike racks for their bus shelters as well as their buses.

Other Detroit Road Work

We checked and none of MDOT’s Detroit stimulus road work coincides with the city’s non-motorized plan. However MDOT is replacing some bridge decks over I-96 which may coincide with the plan.

Wayne County is receiving funds to reconstruct sections of 7 Mile and Fenkel Roads. Both should have bike lanes. We will contact both Wayne County and the city officials to make sure this is known.

The city of Detroit is receiving over $14.4 million for major street repair. Once we learn which roads those involve we’ll cross check them with the non-motorized plan to see if they are scheduled for bike lanes.

This should clearly show the value of having non-motorized plans in place for cities.

All of MDOT’s Metro Region stimulus projects are available on-line. SEMCOG also has a list of all accepted project requests within their seven-county area.

Driving Down, Buses and Bikes Up

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Moving 12-Month Total On All US HighwaysAmerican’s and especially Michiganders are driving their cars and trucks less.

This trend isn’t all that recent. As the most recent Federal Highway Administration graph shows, the mileage has flattened during the past couple years and is now on the decline.

Comparing January 2008 to January 2007, the nation drove 1.7% less. Michiganders drove 4% less, a reduction of 350 million miles for one month. Comparing December 2006 to December 2007, Michigan drove 6.2% less or 525 million miles.

Given the recent gas price increases, this downward trend should only grow.

This is good news for bike shops and bike advocates. Why should we spend more money on expanding roads while the vehicle use is declining? Now is the time to invest in alternatives such as on-road bike facilities.

These trends are also good for SMART. Their April ridership numbers continued to climb and are now setting records.

The Suburban Mobility for Regional Transportation (SMART) is posting the highest ridership since its formation in 1967. SMART carried more than 44,000 passengers daily for the month of April. Weekend service on SMART is also at its peak. Overall, ridership on the Fixed Route system has increased more than 6.5% from this time last year.

Unfortunately there is a significant drawback to Americans driving less. Transportation funding relies heavily on fuel taxes. The less people drive (or the higher MPGs their cars get) the less money flows into the system to fund transit, roads, and trails. The funding mechanism is clearly broken.

The Governor created a Transportation Funding Task Force which is looking at alternatives. MTGA, TRU, and other groups are working with this group to ensure biking and transit funding is adequately funded, especially as more Michiganders switch to these modes.

Getting bike racks on DDOT buses

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

SMART bus bike rackSMART buses have them. Lansing CATA buses do too. Flint and Marquette buses are getting them thanks to recent MDOT grants.

So why don’t DDOT buses in Detroit have bike racks?

One big reason is they haven’t received many requests from their customers for them. That’s something we can change.

If having bike racks on DDOT buses is something you would use, please contact DDOT to let them know. Your options include:

  • Writing them a letter (DDOT, 1301 E. Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48207)
  • Calling their customer service line at 313-933-1300.
  • Attending the upcoming DTOGS public open house on May 7th at Wayne State. Talk with the DDOT officials about bike racks on buses. The DTOGS plan would allow bikes on the trains.
  • Testifying at the City budget hearing on May 8th, 5:00 PM, Coleman A. Young Center, 13th floor. Ask City Council for more money than what the Mayor has recommended to help pay for bus bike racks. This gets the message to City Council and the Mayor’s office.
  • Speaking about it at the monthly Customer Comment meetings, which are every third Thursday, 5pm at DDOT, 1301 E. Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48207.
  • Attending the monthly DDOT Advisory Commission meetings, which are held every third Wednesday at 10 am at DDOT, 1301 E. Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48207.  You have the opportunity to bring it up during the open public comment period near the end of the meeting.

Make sure you’re clear about requesting bike racks on the buses versus just installing bike racks at the bus stops.  And, the more times and ways DDOT hears this message, the better our chances for success.

It should also be noted that there was initial opposition from SMART officials for their bike racks. Some of those who originally opposed them are now singing their praises. The rack usage was “far greater” than what they anticipated. It was a noted reasons for their increased ridership. SMART has even discussed upgrading their current 2-bike racks to 3-bike racks.

As for funding, MDOT’s Transportation Enhancements grants program has funded bus bike racks in other Michigan cities. Increased ridership can help offset any additional maintenance that these racks require.

Detroit’s Light Rail Plans accomodate biking

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Congresswoman Kilpatrick discusses Light Rail in DetroitYesterday was the public announcement regarding DTOGS, the Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study.

We had concerns about the study’s proposed Woodward renderings. They appeared to remove the wide curb lane that makes Woodward more bike friendly. On other streets they removed the traffic lanes altogether.

On a positive note, they did have bike racks at the light rail stations.

During Monday’s announcement we learned that the light rail trains would allow bike roll-ons. This is a major benefit. It means cyclists could bring their bikes right on the train without the hassle of external racks like those currently on SMART buses. It also eliminates the two-bike limit those SMART racks currently face.

We also spoke with the planners afterwards to discuss wide curb lanes and in some cases bike lanes depending on the available road right-of-way constraints. Fortunately the planners are from Minneapolis and are familiar with light rail/cycling issues.

For further reading, the DTOGS announcement was covered by the Detroit News and Free Press.