Posts Tagged ‘Windsor’

Taking the Bike Train on VIA Rail

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

This article is being written and posted from the VIA Rail Train 70 which runs from Windsor to Toronto, Ontario every morning.

This passenger train is part of the Bike Train program and allows roll-on bicycles as checked baggage. No disassembly is required, but it does cost an additional $20 each way. Still that’s much less than the standard airlines fees.

According to the VIA Rail web site, cyclists should arrive an hour before departure. Train 70 departs Windsor at 5:30am, but there’s no need to show up before 5am when the station is scheduled to open.

One caution: Not all VIA Rails allow bikes. You need to make your reservations while referencing the Bike Train page. There also seemed to be limited trains returning to Windsor on the weekend.

Another advantage of this service? You can find free parking and ride to the station to avoid the $10 daily fee at the local parking lot. Depending on how long your trip is, that could cover your Bike Train fee.

Now if only Detroit cyclists could get to Windsor without requiring a motor vehicle…

Overall, this nearby system seems to be a good model for Amtrak in Michigan. MDOT told us over a year ago that Amtrak would have such service but that was very optimistic. This M-Live article seems to have the most recent news on this effort.

There is an on-line petition for roll-on bicycle service as well.

Windsor’s effort to boost bicycling

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Riding the Riverfront Trail in Windsor

From bike lanes to riverfront trails, Windsor has had a big head start on Detroit. While that gap has narrowed over the past few years, they’re arguably still ahead. In fact they just got their Bicycle Friendly Community designation last year which Detroit applied for this year.

This CBC News article gives a glimpse of what they have and what they need to make Windsor more bikeable.

According to Windsor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, the city plans to eventually add approximately 46 kilometres of bikeways.

Every year since 2001, the city has annually spent $400,000 on cycling infrastructure and programs. That doesn’t count the lanes that are added during regular construction.

The goal of the master plan is to have bike lanes and pathways within a five minute radius of every Windsor neighbourhood. It will add up to 350 km of trails and bike routes when it’s done. The current tally is 177 km.

For a really interesting and dynamic look at their plans, check out this before-and-after map.

This is all the more reason why we need a cross-border connection for bicyclists.

Here is a video from the CBC article, Windsor focuses on commuter cycling, bike paths.

Biking and walking on the new Detroit bridge?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Governor Rick Synder continues to push forward on the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) bridge between Detroit and Windsor. Given the apparent lack of support within his own party, the governor may now “go it alone” according to the Detroit Free Press.

One question we hear often is will the new bridge allow bicyclists and pedestrians along with motor vehicles?

But first, let’s mention that the Ambassador Bridge used to allow both on a narrow sidewalk — a sidewalk that is no longer there after the most recent re-decking. Without access to the Tunnel or operating ferry service, bicyclists have no convenient means to cross between the two countries. (Pedestrians can use the Tunnel Bus.) Could the NITC be an answer?

No one knows for certain whether we’ll get bicycles on the NITC as of today, but here’s what the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) says:

The new bridge over the Detroit River and the plaza will be engineered to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its Canadian counterpart (Customs and Border Services Agency) will determine whether this traffic is allowed. All facilities will be designed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. This will include sidewalks along the roads to be repaved as part of the project. This will be an upgrade at many facilities as they were built before the ADA requirements were established.

“Engineered to accomodate” is further defined in the 2008 Bridge Structure Study:

Initially, the section consists of three lanes in each direction, with a 1m flush median between travel directions and 3m outside shoulders. A sidewalk is only currently required on the U.S. bound approach to the toll and inspection plaza. This sidewalk is separated from the shoulder with a traffic barrier. A 1.066m metal railing provides fall protection on the outside of the sidewalk.

The designs show this sidewalk is 5.2 feet wide and more like a shared-use path. And having this path on the U.S. bound is smart since bikes and pedestrians will have the best views of both downtown skylines.

There are also 10 foot shoulders on both sides of the bridge.

The bad news? The Study says that if there’s increased motorized traffic, the path would be removed and the shoulders narrowed in order to add more lanes. However, we doubt traffic demands would necessitate that.

This brings up another question. would they allow a cyclist without a passport to pay the bridge toll, bike to the middle of the bridge, enjoy the view, then return back to their respective county?

MTGA Comments

During the FEIS process, the Michigan Trails and Greenways made these comments and received MDOT responses.

MTGA Comment MDOT Response
Which AASHTO bicycle facility type would be used [on the new Detroit River bridge], bike lanes or shared lanes The commenter is referred to the “Detroit River International Crossing Study, Bridge-Type Study Report,” dated January 2007, Revised July 2007. This document is on the project Web site (www.partnershipborder under U.S. Reports, Bridge Type Study Report. It discusses bike lane options (pages 3 and 29). A final decision on the bicycle treatment will be made in the design phase
The report does not address bicycling access from the bridge to the processing area to local surface streets. Shared pathways would likely be acceptable for these connections but not narrow sidewalks per AASHTO’s Guide for the Development of Bicycling Facilities. The accommodation for bicycles on the new river bridge is likely to be the right shoulder. When exiting the bridge, a bicyclist would remain to the right of traffic and proceed to a separate building near the primary processing booths for vehicles. After processing, there would be an exit to Jefferson Avenue. All of this is subject to the determination of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its Canadian counterpart to allow bicycle use of the new Detroit River bridge.
the FEIS. . . does not mention the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink, Southwest Detroit greenways, and Fort Street Greenway projects. These project should not be negatively impacted by the DRIC. MDOT will investigate ways to integrate these projects.
It appears the FEIS does not analyze the DRIC impact on the Detroit Non-motorized Transportation Master Plan . . . Any local road reconstruction that has been identified as a bike route should be rebuilt to accommodate bikes per the plan. MDOT will investigate ways to integrate these projects.
The AASHTO U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) has a designated corridor (Route 25) that includes the DRIC. Though the road route has not yet been set, it is likely to follow Fort Street or Jefferson Avenue. It is important that nay DRIC plan consider bicycling access?between this route and the new bridge. This connecting to Canada would be an invaluable addition to the Bicycle Route System MDOT will investigate ways to integrate these projects.
The cities of Detroit and Windsor are actively pursuing improved nonmotorized transportation and greenway trail networks. Connecting these two systems would bring a unique and significant benefit to the Metro Detroit and Windsor communities Comment acknowledged. As noted in the FEIS Section, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, along with its Canadian counterpart, will determine whether pedestrian and bicycle traffic is allowed on the new Detroit River bridge

Similar comments were made during the Canadian Environmental Assessment process, however they do not appear to have published written responses.

Inaugural Bike Friendly Windsor Annual Meeting

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

From our friends in “South Detroit”:

Come on out for an evening of bike talk, including a showing of another locally made bike film. Rubber Side Down documents the 8000km journey of Greg Mailloux and Vin Heney as they cycled across Canada in support of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada. Greg, Vin and the film crew are all natives of Amherstburg, and have raised over $84,000 for the CCFC to date.?Bike Friendly Windsor is honoured to present this film to its members and the public as part of their first AGM.

Pilot ride on the Lake Erie Cycling Route

Friday, September 16th, 2011

On Monday, a group of cyclists rolled out of Windsor for a pilot ride on the proposed Lake Erie Cycling Route.

From the Windsor Star:

The project is being spearheaded by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, which has established a similar 900-kilometre signed route from the Niagara Region, along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, to the Quebec border. Also involved are the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, Transportation Options and the Carolinian Canada Coalition.

The goal is to establish a mapped and signed Lake Erie cycling route that will help attract cycling tourists and encourage local bicycle use, said Marlaine Kroehler, executive director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. It could be completed as early as 2013.

This new route is a mix of paved roads with some sections of unpaved rails-to-trails added — mostly the Chrysler Canada Greenway. This is one difference from the otherwise similar U.S. Bicycle Route System which keeps to paved surfaces.

Interestingly enough, the Chrysler Canada Greenway was perhaps less scenic than the road, which ran closer to the lake.

Some highlights along the first leg are Amherstberg and the Fort Malden National Historic Site; Ontario’s wine country; the John R. Park Homestead (no relation to Detroit’s John R. Williams); and the Point Pelee National Park. The latter is about 60 miles from Windsor.

The Lake Erie Cycling Route connects with the existing Waterfront Trail along Lake Ontario, which also connects with Quebec’s Route Verte. Yes, you’ll be able to ride from Windsor to Montreal along these cycling routes.

One bonus: The Bike Train means you don’t have to ride out and back. One could take the train and take the route backwards to Windsor.

For Detroit residents, having these mostly rural bike routes (and wineries) so close to the city is a real bonus. This is much closer (and much flatter) than Metro Detroit’s rural roads and much closer than the vineyards near Traverse City. Southeast Ontario drivers seems to be rather congenial as well. The biggest issue is once again, getting across the Detroit river without needing a car.

The Windsor Star published this follow up article with more details, including a discussion on the growing Detroit bicycle scene and the plans to build bike routes through the Motor City. Ignoring the Windsor Star’s inappropriate reference to “the poorest neighborhoods”, the article does capture the excitement of bicycling in the Windsor-Detroit area and the potential to grow the culture and cross-border tourism opportunities.