Posts Tagged ‘Wayne County’

To Metro Detroit Counties: Bike lanes are inevitable

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

While giving public comment to the Road Commission for Oakland County about building bike lanes, one Road Commissioner kept his head cocked with a look of confusion that said, “Why are you here?”

The comments that the Road Commission wasn’t following best practices for bicycle design and that there were no excuses fell on deaf ears. There was no response.

Bike lanes are an easily dismissed request among the Metro Detroit’s three main counties. At one time all three county road agencies had unwritten policies against providing bike lanes.

But that has to change eventually. The cities of Detroit, Ferndale, and others are setting the example locally while the federal government is providing reinforcement from above.

And just last month Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood celebrated the opening of bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.

It was hot, sizzling hot, and summertime-in-DC humid. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I’m talking about yesterday’s dedication festivities to inaugurate Washington, DC’s newest bicycle lanes. And these are not just any bike lanes. These lanes run right down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue–America’s Main Street–from the White House to the U.S. Capitol.

For too long, walking and biking have been overlooked as important forms of transportation. Now we see local governments answering that call by creating new opportunities for people to take advantage of streetcars, transit, walking, and bike lanes. They’re taking the needs of pedestrians and cyclists into account like never before.

Building bike lanes on county roads is inevitable. When will the Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties stop resisting and start building them?

When will Secretary LaHood celebrate bike lanes opening on county roads in Metro Detroit?

MDOT Transportation Enhancements

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

First the good news. MDOT recently made the following Transportation Enhancement (TE) awards that should improve bicycling in Metro Detroit.

From MDOT’s press release:

Macomb County

The city of Utica will construct a nonmotorized bridge over the Clinton River to provide accessibility and connectivity to the city of Utica’s portion of the bike trail that will connect the Huron Clinton Metroparks at Metro Beach and Stoney Creek. The project is part of the Macomb County Bike/Hike Master Plan and will allow bicyclists to connect to the Macomb Orchard Trail as well as the Clinton River Trail in Oakland County. The project cost is $452,525, including $303,192 in federal TE funds and $149,333 in matching funds from the city.

Macomb, Oakland, Wayne counties

SMART, in coordination with its community partners, will purchase and install bike racks at several locations in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The intent is to provide communities with secure bike racks at locations away from bus routes for the convenience of SMART riders who also ride bikes. The project cost is $20,016, including $16,013 in federal TE funds and $4,003 in matching funds from SMART.

Clawson is also getting bike racks installed along 14 Mile Road. Unfortunately they only seem willing to make mild improvements to walkability and even milder ones for bike-ability. Their conceptual plans for their Main Street road diet included bike lanes. Their final plans and implementation did not.

MDOT Five-year plan

MDOT recently released their five-year spending plan. With reduced revenue from people driving less, Michigan cannot provide the full 20% match for federal transportation funding.

This does affect the Transportation Enhancements program. Normally MDOT would provide $12 million in match for TE projects on their roads. That may be reduced to $1 million per year, which means MDOT will undertake fewer TE projects like paved shoulders, bike lanes, and streetscaping on MDOT state trunklines.

However, it also means that local governments will received more TE funding since they provide the match and not MDOT.

It’s also worth highlight this language within MDOT’s plan. This provides useful quote for cycling advocates in Michigan.

Pedestrian and bicycle transportation are on the rise due to increased fuel costs. Injury and fatality statistics are humbling reminders of the importance to design and build safe facilities for multiple modes of transportation and of the importance of education and enforcement.

It may be surprising to some that in Michigan, one pedestrian is injured every three hours and 59 minutes and one bicyclist is injured every five hours and 13 minutes.

In addition, in 2006, 17.9 percent of the 1,002 traffic fatalities in Michigan were bicyclists or pedestrians, whereas nationally, 11.6 percent of the 42,642 traffic fatalities were bicyclists or pedestrians. A reduced [Transportation Enhancements] program would severely jeopardize MDOT’s ability to provide safer pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

This does raise one question.

If 17.9% of road fatalities are non-motorized users, why did the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning only allocate 0.36% for non-motorized safety under the State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program in 2009?

How do you define “safe”?

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

The following was posted during a discussion on living car-free in Detroit on (emphasis ours):

Ahh, the myth that the metro area is all Detroit. I live in a very nice suburb that is quiet and safe. The only reason I feel the need to leave here is just so I can depend less upon a motorized vehicle and more upon my own power. The car culture here is strong and the roads are just not safe for riding everywhere I would like to be able to go.

So which is it? The suburb is safe but the roads are not safe?

From a cyclist perspective, if the roads aren’t safe, your community isn’t safe. Cycling advocates shouldn’t let local governments view safety only from behind a windshield.

But surely suburbs do have lower reported crime rates compared with Detroit. Then again, having a motor vehicle on their horn and passing unsafely is?assault with a deadly weapon, though it’s rarely reported.

It does seem Detroit’s streets are safer for cycling — a conclusion supported by the average yearly bicycle crashes per 100K residents from 2004 through 2009.

Detroit 16.5
St. Clair County 18.9
Oakland County 19.4
Wayne County (without Detroit) 25.0
Macomb County 26.1

Also, Detroit has the lowest bicycle crash rate despite having a highest bike to work rate.

And as for living car-free, it would be tough to beat Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

Oakland County Roads are Not the Safest

Monday, May 11th, 2009

irtadIf you read the Road Commission for Oakland County web site you’d see their claim that the county has “the safest roads in the world.”

They’re wrong.

To jump to this conclusion, they divided the number of fatalities by 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The more miles driven on the expressways, the safer the rest of the roads look.

And in 2008, 27% of all Oakland County road fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists. To divide those fatalities by the number of vehicle miles traveled is clearly invalid — and it reflects the low priority the Road Commission places on road users who are not inside a motor vehicle.

What the Road Commission should be reporting is the fatality rate based on the population size.

Here are the 2008 fatality rates per 100,000 people (based on 2008 SEMCOG population estimates):

  • Oakland County 13
  • Macomb County 13
  • St. Clair County 18
  • Wayne County 20

These are not world class when compared with other countries.

The U.K.’s Department for Transport’s recent report “A Safer Way: Consultation on Making Britain’s Roads the Safest in the World.” (via How We Drive) compiles road fatality rates for many countries (See the above chart).

Our county rates show we are among the least safe. Oakland and Macomb counties are only marginally better than the U.S. average, yet double the Canadian average.

We’re apparently neck and neck with Bulgaria.

Oakland County clearly does not have the safest roads.

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.