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Cyclists encouraged to give input on new bike routes

COURTESY PHOTO

COURTESY PHOTO

By Donald Barnes
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — A plan for more bike routes and lanes seeks input from area cyclists.

The Non-Motorized Plan (Nomo Plan) developed by the Southeast Michigan Councils of Government (SEMCOG) in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is a seven county plan that analyzes bicycling pedestrian needs and issues. It is an opportunity for cyclists to submit ideas for area routes and safety measures, says SEMCOG planner Alex Borgeau.

“What we’re going to end up with is a set of recommendations on either facility types or recommendations for fixing gaps,” Borgeau told the Michigan Citizen. “We gathered all the plans we could from local communities, from the counties and the state. We put all those together, mapped them and that’s what we brought to the public meetings. We said to the people in each of the counties, ‘you know your community better than we do. Did we get this right?’”

SEMCOG began gathering data in early 2012 and has held eight public workshops in July and August of 2013.

A second set of public hearings will take place in spring of 2014. SEMCOG’s Nomo plan survey is currently on their Web site. The survey gives cyclists the opportunity to express their desires and ideas for improved non-motorized transit, including safety improvements and new routes.

Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne County have all submitted recommendations for improved non-motorized transit.

Last year, the city of Detroit received $10 million through the TIGER grant. They are using that money for a non-motorized plan called LINK Detroit (see the Sept. 22 issue) — 20 miles of bike lanes, streetscapes and greenways in Midtown, Eastern Market, the Dequindre Cut, the Riverwalk and downtown.

The MDOT-funded Nomo Plan relies on public involvement. It’s designed to be an addition to existing projects.

“We’re encouraging roadway designers to consult this non-motorized plan when they get ready to rip up the roads,” said SEMCOG planner Brian Pawlik. “When they’re doing their planning, this guide will help them know if there’s an expressed interest in a non-motorized facility on that road. Hopefully they can implement it as part of that project.”

The Nomo Plan is currently being drafted and will be presented next spring for adoption before a SEMCOG committee.

Detroiter Andrea House, a visual artist, has ridden her bike for many years. Last year, she says, she rode her bike more than she drove her car.

House likes the new planning for non-motorized transportation. She says she’d like to see more attention placed on cyclists in the media to ensure safety.

“With the current efforts to improve non-motorized transit, communication between cyclists and drivers is essential. I’d like to see more commercials informing drivers to look out for bikers on the road,” House said. “Similar to the crosswalks for kids, maybe something along those lines for (cyclists) would be nice.”

According to Pawlik, having public input will bring the Nomo Plan to life.

“We’re trying to identify the needs of residents within southeast Michigan, each of those residents may have a different preference,” Pawlik said.

“We’re encouraging them to take the survey, that way we can know the places they’re trying to get to.”

The Nomo plan survey link can be found here, http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SEMCOGNoMoPlan

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