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New project links city’s greenways

Bike lanes on the Dequindre Cut greenway

Bike lanes on the Dequindre Cut greenway

By Donald Barnes
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Cyclists will soon enjoy greenways from their neighborhoods to downtown Detroit, Midtown, Eastern Market and the Riverwalk. Link Detroit, a $25 million multi-modal enhancement initiative administered by the city, is now underway.

Link Detroit connects existing greenways and streetscapes, in five separate projects: a streetscape enhancement at Eastern Market, three non-motorized travel connections including an extension of the Dequindre Cut north, a new section of the Midtown Loop greenway and bike lanes that will connect trails of the city of Hamtramck.

“We have 60 miles plus of non-motorized improvements already completed — that is the bike ways and walk ways all around the city,” Deputy Chief of Public Works Jose Abraham told the Michigan Citizen. “(Another) 60 miles or so are scheduled for completion by the end of 2013.”

According to Abraham, Hamtramck is currently working on a “non-motorized master plan” that will connect the cities through Link Detroit.

“Once they implement their non-motorized project, they can connect to our Link Detroit project and come all the way to the riverfront or east, west, north or south,” he said.

Phase I has already been constructed in the Dequindre cut area; phase II has been planned and estimated and phase III has secured right-of-way (ROW) funding.

Abraham says Link Detroit is focused on improving the accessibility of roads for the walking and biking community. Streetscapes and greenways will allow extra space for citizens with non-motorized means of transportation.

In 2012, Link Detroit received $10 million in federal funds through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program.

Eastern Market will be improved with streetscapes while three bridges over the Grand Trunk line will be reconstructed: Adelaide, Wilkins Street and Division.

The plan will also improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“All along the Midtown loop there are pedestrian lights and street lights. In Eastern Market, we will replace all the existing street lights,” Abraham said. “All along the Dequindre Cut, we have pedestrian lights and security cameras. These will be extended to the Dequindre Cut in phase two. Throughout this project we are providing more facilities for the walking and biking community.”

According to Bryan Pawlik, a SEMCOG planner within the Planning Implementation Group who specializes in bicycle travel, Link Detroit will not take away from motorists and bus riders, it will create opportunities for both kinds of travelers.

“It enhances the mobility of all users and creates safer walking biking environments,” Pawlik said. “It creates more capability and safer means for motor vehicles which include transit as well.”

According to city cyclist Max Daley, drivers are the biggest danger to walkers and bicyclists. Daley’s only means of transportation is his bike. He’s never been hit by an oncoming vehicle but says he’s had a few close encounters.

“I think that drivers need to be more aware of cyclists. People pull out in front of me all the time,” Daley told the Michigan Citizen. “They assume that I can stop quickly. They just don’t care; they’re too much in a rush or not paying attention.”

Daley lives and works in Corktown and walks to work. He says Link Detroit can definitely aid bicyclists, but says drivers have to stay out of the greenways and streetscapes.

“(Link Detroit) is a designated area for (bicyclists) to travel so that makes it safer,” he said. Daley says he takes Trumbull frequently and encounters a lot of problems with drivers. “People need to stop driving in the bike lanes; I see that all the time. (Drivers) try and pass other cars in the bike lane,” he said

“That’s a really wide bike lane over there and I see drivers pulling over and passing cars,” Daley said despite it being a two way road.

According to Abraham, Link Detroit is the only project funded through the Tiger Grant 2012 in Michigan.

“We are very proud of that and extremely happy about that accomplishment,” he said.

When complete, Link Detroit will consist of 20 miles of continuous walking and biking paths. A free event to celebrate the new greenways is scheduled for Sept. 24, 6 p.m. at Eastern Market, Shed 2.

The project is scheduled for completion November 2014.

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