Detroit Bicycle lanes

Detroit to put 30 miles of bicycle lanes on streets

Detroit is embarking on an ambitious plan to create bike lanes on roads across town, giving cyclists like Jon Koller designated space for riding as city leaders and community groups rethink street and land use in a shrinking city. It's a big change. Although the city is starting with about 30 miles in a handful of neighborhoods this year, there eventually could be as many as 400 miles of bike lanes in Detroit. "I think it's going to encourage more people to get out there and take biking as a serious form of transportation," said Koller, 25, who lives in the city's Corktown neighborhood and commutes by bike to Wayne State University, where he's a doctoral student in transportation engineering. Supporters envision a city that's easier to maneuver without a car, with bike lanes and paths connecting the Cultural Center, Mexicantown, parks and other attractions. The largest share of 30 miles of marked on-street bike lanes that the city plans to add this year will be 17 miles in southwest Detroit connecting the Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods. That area also will get nearly 12 miles of roads designated as bike routes, with signs directing cyclists to destinations and alerting drivers to bicycle traffic but no painted bike lanes. Other bike lanes will be added on streets near Wayne State University in Midtown, the New Center area and the city's east side as Detroit spends more than $3.6 million -- mostly federal funds with matching grants provided by private nonprofit groups -- for signs and repainting on the first batch of what ultimately could be hundreds of miles of lanes set aside for cyclists. The bike lanes are part of a larger greenways effort in southeast Michigan, supported by groups including the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Kresge Foundation, to create a system of non-motorized community links that tie together neighborhoods, parks and other amenities through pedestrian and bike paths. "You're starting to connect these neighborhoods that have their own strengths in ways they haven't been in a number of years," said Scott Clein of Giffels-Webster Engineers, a firm that helped put together a master plan for non-motorized transportation that Detroit adopted in 2008. Advocates say the city has emphasized moving vehicle traffic at the expense of walking or biking -- key indicators of a community's livability. "Kids should be able to walk or bike to school," said Todd Scott, Detroit greenways coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. "You should be able to walk or bike to the local coffee shop. It's a quality of life issue." Detroit has bike lanes on Belle Isle and on segments of scattered streets, but nothing of the scale now planned. Detroit ranked among the bottom among the largest American cities in number of bike lanes, signed routes or multi-use paths per square mile in a 2010 League of American Bicyclists report. About 4% of commuters either walk or bike to work in Detroit, below the 5.6% average among big U.S. cities. City traffic engineer Prasad Nannapaneni said the bike lanes generally will be created using space from existing traffic lanes, with striping repainted to make room for 5-foot-wide bike lanes adjacent to curbs or parking lanes. Nannapaneni said most of this year's bike lane work will start in September. Contact MATT HELMS: 313-222-1450 ormhelms@freepress.com
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