Archive for the ‘Trails’ Category

Detroit RiverWalk community meeting, groundbreaking & love letters

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Perhaps you’ve seen Mt. Elliott Park fenced off for construction or watched the heavy equipment remediating the soil at the Uniroyal site. There’s much work being done on the Detroit RiverWalk right now.

To update the community, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is hosting a meeting form 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday, October 17th at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources. The building is on the Detroit RiverWalk at 200 Walker Street.

It’s a free event, but you need to RSVP by October 12th by emailing info@detroitriverfront.org or calling (313) 566-8248.

Globe building groundbreaking

The city of Detroit, DEGC, and DNR and hosting a groundbreaking event for the new Outdoor Adventure and Discover Center at the Globe Trading building. This event is on Saturday, October 6th at 10:30am. The Globe Trading building is at 1900 Atwater Street or more commonly recognized as the large brick structure at the intersection of the Dequindre Cut and Atwater.

What’s this building becoming? According to the DNR, “With hands-on experiences in everything from archery to ziplining, the Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center will become a base camp for residents and visitors seeking a destination for fun and fitness.” We’re in!

There will be a bike on the Dequindre Cut and a complimentary lunch after the groundbreaking. RSVP by emailing munsond@michigan.gov or by calling (517) 241-0341.

DNR seeking love letters

The DNR will be burying a time capsule at the groundbreaking and they are seeking submissions.

The DNR is looking for stories, sentiment, and visions for the future that can be included in a time capsule that will be buried on the grounds of the Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center. Submit your Love Letter by October 1 and become part of Detroit’s legacy. Detroit Riverfront Love Letters can be sent via email to Erik Thornbury at ThornburyE@michigan.gov.

You have until Monday to submit your best work!

A Cycling perspective on the Belle Isle agreement

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

There’s been a great deal of media coverage on a proposed agreement between the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan to make Belle Isle a state park.

Based on what we know right now, how would such a lease affect bicyclists?

Here are some changes we’ve seen in based on the proposed Belle Isle lease agreement.

  • Belle Isle would remain free if you rode your bike onto the island or brought your bike via a re-established DDOT bus route.
  • If you bring your bike onto Belle Isle using a motor vehicle, you will need to have a $10 annual Recreation Passport starting in April 2013.
  • Six to 12 months after signing the lease, the DNR would meet with MDOT to convert some internal roads on the east end of the island into two-way trails — a concept the current park manager has already put forth.
  • MDOT will assume maintenance on all park roads.

The existing asphalt paths and bathroom facilities would also be improved under the DNR.

One major concern we have is MDOT’s commitment. We want these roads improved, not just maintained. These roads should be made into Complete Streets.

  • We need sidewalks on many of the roads. Without them, people have little option but to walk in the bike lane.
  • The two bike lane cross over points at the entrance to the island need to be improved.
  • The MacArthur Bridge doesn’t require five vehicle travel lanes. We would like one lane removed, the bike lanes widened, and a buffer zone added.
  • The connection between E. Jefferson and the bridge needs to be improved for cyclists. While the entire intersection needs a redesign, that responsibility would remain with the City.

The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance has submitted comments to Detroit City Council that suggest a change to the proposed lease — MDOT should commit to “preserving” these roads, which would include the above ideas and more.

This is a 30-year lease with two 30-year renewals. If this lease goes forward, do we want these roads only maintained as they are for the next 90 years?

MDOT has a greater commitment to state trunklines within the city of Detroit. The roads on Belle Isle should be given that same level of commitment.

Lafayette & Elmwood Trails now in Google Maps

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Unless you live in Detroit’s Lafayette or Elmwood neighborhoods, you may not be aware of the huge trail network that runs throughout the area. The trails are rarely straight and it’s easy to get turned around.

They may not provide shortcuts for cyclists but they can make your ride more interesting.

But be forewarned that there are some issues with the trails. Some sections require maintenance. It’s not uncommon to encounter cracked pavement drainage issues, or little sinkholes.

Also, these trails typically do not have well-designed road crossings. You shouldn’t come to the road and have to search for a crossing (with curb cuts.) If these trails would be much more popular and well-used if they had easy to use road crossings, improved maintenance, and some directional signs.

One of the more unique trails runs along the west side of the Elmwood Cemetery. It’s paved with brick and makes for a bumpy ride for those on skinnier tires.

With encouragement from Kelli at Wheelhouse Detroit, most of these trails have been added to Google Maps bicycling layer. More of the smaller connections need to be added, but it’s usable now – so start exploring!

Google Map Maker video highlights Detroit bicycling

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Google released a video on their Map Maker software a little over a week ago. The video focuses on how we’ve used their program to update Google Maps with the latest bicycling and trail information.

Hailed as the birthplace of the automotive revolution, the city of Detroit, Mich. is taking its transportation legacy down new paths. As Detroit embraces a greener, non-motorized outlook, cycling is steadily increasing in popularity. The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is facilitating this transition by creating an interconnected statewide system of trails and greenways, including the development of bike paths throughout the Detroit area.

How did this come about?

First it began when I became heavily involved in updating the bicycling and trail information in Map Maker. I began in the city of Detroit but slowly progressed across all of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties. Google tracks how many edits contributors make and this work put me near the top of those in this region. They were having a North American Google Map Maker conference in Montreal and they invited me.

At the conference I had the opportunity to share stories of our work in Detroit, which left a positive impression. Google contacted me afterwards about making Detroit part of their upcoming promotional video.

As one can tell by the quality of the video, this was not some small project. At one point their were nine other people in my home office for a video shoot. They shot video for three days at locations across Detroit, including the Heidelberg Project, Belle Isle, Dequindre Cut, RiverWalk, Spirit of Hope urban garden, and even the Ambassador Bridge for the Bike the Bridge event. Some of the most dramatic shots were taken from a helicopter.

Of course the East Side Riders looked great in the video as well.

Though Detroit’s bicycle and trail info is quite up to date, there’s other mapping work that can be done – and it’s something everyone can do using Map Maker.

Others are also working on printed Detroit bike maps as well as Open Street Maps. We’re not done!

The Detroit News, MLive, and the Huffington Post also covered this story.

Updates: Detroit RiverWalk, Belle Isle and more

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Much of this is older news and others, like Mode Shift have done a fine job covering last month’s RiverWalk announcements. We’ll just in some gaps and clear up some misconceptions.

In case you missed it, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Governor Rick Snyder and others broke ground more sections of the RiverWalk. More specifically, the Mt. Elliott Park makeover is underway. Not much has begun yet except for some construction fencing, but that will change soon.

As we mentioned, Mode Shift wrote a very good article on this event, as did the Free Press, Detroit News, and Click on Detroit (with video.)

The Governor has shown great interest as well and made this statement.

It’s a win for all Michiganders. The riverfront in Detroit coming back is a great thing for the citizens of Detroit and for all Michiganders. I encourage anyone in our state to come down and enjoy the experience. I’m looking forward to going for a bike ride myself one of these days.

Saddle up, Governor. Summer’s coming to an end.

The Governor continued his comments by stressing the importance of placemaking, which he views as a combination of “economic development, environmentalism, and community all coming together.” Former DNR Director Rodney Stokes has been transferred to the Governor’s office to work on placemaking, including Milliken State Park, the Globe Trading Building, and Belle Isle. This is a very positive move as Stokes is a former Detroit Recreation Department director and has put a priority on engaging urban youth in the outdoors.

Snyder also applauds the Detroit RiverWalk’s public-private partnership model, which he is also pushing for the new Detroit River bridge.

The Uniroyal site just east of Mt. Elliott Park continues to be cleaned. With some luck this work will be completed so that the RiverWalk connection to the Belle Isle bridge can be started next year.

That $44 million that was announced at the groundbreaking is funding we’ve already mentioned in earlier stories. Only now is the Conservancy able to spend it.

Some media stories have said this is the “final phase” or that these project will complete the RiverWalk. No, they won’t. They’ll complete the eastern portion of the RiverWalk. The western portion from Joe Louis Arena to Riverside Park, just beyond the Ambassador Bridge still needs to be completed.

Belle Isle

The state’s interest in helping Detroit with Belle Isle has gotten much press and attention. There’s both strong support, opposition and misinformation.

Here’s some questions and answers:

Q. The Belle Isle assistance is in city’s consent agreement. Does that mean it’s a done deal?

A. No. According to city councilmember we spoke with, it’s only an affiliated project. It’s not part of the agreement.

Q. If Belle Isle were part of Milliken State Park, would there be an admission fee?

A. No, but motor vehicles on the island would probably have to have a Recreation Passport. The Passport costs $10 a year and is valid in all state parks and state forests. It’s a bargain and costs less than a few gallons of gas.

Q. Does this bring Detroiter’s state tax dollars back to the city?

A. No. Since 2004, state parks have not received state taxpayer funding. Councilman Gary Brown, Deadline Detroit, and others have been mentioning this as a benefit, but they’re not correct.

There have been many concerns voiced about the state having a long term lease on the Belle Isle. We’re not concerned. Leases can be written to say what the state can and cannot do. It doesn’t mean the state will be building condos. These leases are common.

In fact there’s a similar lease just down the river. That land under Milliken State Park? It’s city land that’s on a long term lease to the state.

How’s that working out?