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Council Hears Proposal on Making Dearborn Bicycle-Friendly

The plan highlights a low-cost option for encouraging bike travel in Dearborn.

A plan presented to Dearborn City Council on Tuesday evening would, if implemented, put the city on the map in terms of bicyclist innovation.

Resident Sean Galloway and Sustainability Coordinator Dave Norwood outlined a proposal to the council to essentially turn the city's streets into a bicycle tour of historic landmarks, architecture and prominent neighborhoods.

"We need something to develop that’s safe and efficient that aligns with master plan … and it has to be low cost and low maintenance," said Galloway, who also serves on the Telecommunications Commission. "We need to create an experience for residents and commuters."

That experience, according to the proposal, is less about construction than it is about making residents aware of the bicycle-friendly nature of the city—at least in the early phases.

The plan would take bicyclists on a self-guided tour of the city, suggesting routes to take and highlighting features along the way. Signs would direct people to turn left or right, and would include scannable QR codes leading riders to information about a historic spot, or a unique neighborhood.

“We’ll be a leading community by integrating this all together," Galloway said. "High-tech features will appeal to a younger generation.”

Additionally, the plan includes creation of a website that will inform bicyclists of bike rack, drinking fountain and public bathroom locations, as well as maps of routes.

Phase one would target the "Levagood and Ford Field Loop," taking bicyclists through the west and downtown neighborhoods, and past such landmarks as parks, schools, the Ford Homes Historic Neighborhood and The Henry Ford.

The first phase is estimated to cost around $15,000—including signage, QR stickers and paint to mark roadways along the route. Galloway and Norwood said they hope will be covered by sponsors or grants, including options from the League of American Bicyclists, Michigan Trails and Greenways, and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

No action is being taken on the plan currently, although members of city council present at the meeting—Brian O'Donnell, Mark Shooshanian and Robert Abraham—voiced preliminary support for the plan, as did Mayor Jack O'Reilly.

"This proposal gets us a start and we can build on that … and phase through,” O'Reilly said.

Galloway said they hope to implement phase one by the spring of 2013.

Diane Cliff November 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Excellent idea. It would also be great if it was safe for pedestrians and bikers to safely travel from the East to the West side of Dearborn; especially around the UMD and HFCC area. I see so many students trying to navigate those streets without crossing lights or side walks. It's ridiculous.
I.e. Burt November 28, 2012 at 01:23 PM
We need bicycle paths everywhere period! Since SMART totally sucks in Dearborn and is not the smart way to go, we need an alternative safe way of transportation big time!!!
becki kain November 28, 2012 at 01:56 PM
it would be good if something could be done for Michigan avenue (what Ms Cliff is asking for). I live 2 miles from where I work but it's too dangerous to ride my bike on Michigan, crossing the Southfield, to safely get to work.
Michael D. Albano November 28, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I totally agree with you Becki. I inline skated from east to west down Michigan Avenue, and many cars there drive like it's a freeway, and going over Southfield one takes their own life in their hands. I also wanted to mention that when I discussed the proposed path/trail with Sean, he also stated it would be walking and skating friendly, all of which sounded good to me.
Max November 28, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Dearborn could be a bike mecca. Our city sits at the end of the Gateway trail and is a destination point for many cyclists using Hines. The West Downtown area has great potential for catering to all types of cyclists.
Leslie November 28, 2012 at 05:44 PM
The bike path & tour signage sound terrific. It seems that this project would be a great candidate for grants and donations from corporations and individuals. It should be doable without using residents' tax dollars. And it could be present a good business opportunity for bike rental once the new train station is complete, bringing visitors who will be on foot. Yes, on the north side of Michigan Ave. there is no safe way to cross Evergreen. There’s a sidewalk on the south side, but to cross the Southfield, you have to cross over the freeway entrance/exit lanes. It's dangerous.
City of Dearborn (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 05:58 PM
There was discussion last night about, further down the line, creating more biking/walking/skating-friendly trails and lanes on major roads; however, that requires coordination with MDOT, the county, and possibly businesses as well. City council and especially the mayor do seem to agree with residents, though, that connecting east and west Dearborn in a safe way is the ultimate goal. And beyond that, connecting to Camp Dearborn.
matthew j schulte November 28, 2012 at 05:59 PM
We should look at some other cities and towns that are more bike friendly for inspiration. One thing I have noticed is the use of bells to alert pedestrians that your approaching, Marquette does this. Another thing would be rules for bikes, like riding with the flow of traffic on streets, nothing like driving down a narrow residential street and having to stop for someone texting while driving the wrong way. On the sidewalk having to yield to pedestrians, or at a certain age or speed you should get off the sidewalk. As for riding on major streets or the associated sidewalk try going over to the next street, instead of Telegraph try Westpoint, or Garrison instead of Mich Ave. I personally find the sidewalk and shoulder on Mich Ave at Southfeild to be fine, but then again I've ridden all the way to downtown Detroit and I use mirrors and lights. One thing that might help to bring about visibility is a social organization called critical mass, where a large number of bicyclist gather and ride around, some consider it a nuisance, probably those in cars, while the up part is that it increases visibility. Hopefully we can move forward on becoming a more bike friendly city, I look forward to the day when I can walk my dog and not have to worry about some one coming up behind me on their bike and sending him into a barking frenzy because there was no warning about the approaching wheeled vehicle approaching.
Seymour Poon November 28, 2012 at 05:59 PM
As a part-time Dearborn resident as well as northern and southern California, I can attest to perils of the bike path mentality taken to extremes. In places like Santa Monica - Venice, we have effectively lost half of our roadways to empty dedicated bike lanes and/or shared-lanes ("sharrows"). Now, traffic is snarled and local businesses (retailers and restaurants) suffer because serious cycling enthusiasts (in spandex shorts and helmets) don't consume anything other than an occasional coffee or tea. As the retailers and restaurants move out, they are quickly replaced by medical marijuana dispensaries. The City should focus on the fundamentals like walkability and sidewalks. There is no sidewalk along Michigan Avenue from Brady to the new City Hall location - what's that about?
Michael D. Albano November 28, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Seymour, there is a sidewalk on Michigan Avenue from Brady to the new city hall and beyond. It's on the south side of Michigan Avenue, the side with the railroad tracks. I just bladed it a few weeks ago to see the Vietnam Vet Memorial at Ford HQ.
Robert D. Byrnes November 28, 2012 at 10:29 PM
I live in East Dearborn and ride my bike all over Dearborn and beyond. Dearborn is a good bike city already thanks to some farsighted folks in the sixties who built sidewalks along Michigan Ave. and Rotunda Dr. East Dearborn has a beautiful and historic ride down Miller Rd. past the Rouge plant that few people, unfortunately, seem to use. The trees and plants that Ford Motor put in ten years ago have reached a scenic maturity that looks great year-round . Also, the Aviation Sub along Oakman Blvd. , Esper and South Morrow Cir. has homes to rival anything on the west side. As far as linking up to Camp Dearborn, I assume that means joining the trails at the end of Hines and I-275 to those around Kensington and Camp. Great idea. .
becki kain November 28, 2012 at 11:06 PM
really? and it was safe going over the southfield? my issue is that I could take that, but then I'd have to swing the 5 lanes of Michigan to goto Ford's World Headquarters. That's dangerous enough in my Fiesta, let alone a bike!
becki kain November 28, 2012 at 11:07 PM
all I can say is that if I could get safely from Mati's Deli to Ford's WHQ, this commuter would give up her car, most days.
matthew j schulte November 29, 2012 at 01:19 AM
There's a stop light at Evergreen WHQ and Mercury drive.
Andrew November 29, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I like the idea and the effort, but it seems like a website is enough. Do we really need signs and QR tags pointing out where The Henry Ford or Ford Homes District are? They both have signs already. I would guess the majority of the cost comes from signage.
Michael D. Albano November 29, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Andrew, signs and QR tags are common in the cities that have trails in California.that I have used. We also need to remember that not everyone in Dearborn, nor everyone that visits Dearborn and uses our soon to be trail will know all the Dearborn landmarks. Eventually this trail will connect to other cities, as well, and these signs and QR tax will make it a much better trip down the trail for everyone.
Peder Blohm December 02, 2012 at 01:12 PM
This is a great idea. The city of Copenhagen has a free bike program that only requires a deposit of a 20 Kroner coin to liberate a bike. When you are finished riding the bike, you will get your deposit back, but first some background information about Denmark and bicycles. Bicycles probably out number cars, especially in Copenhagen, where a separate system of traffic lights has been set up to control the two-wheeled traffic. It is not unusual to see a large pack of cyclists, sitting at a light waiting for the light to turn green. And then when it does the group moves in unison quickly down the city street until they arrive at the next red light. Many choose to travel to work in this manner, even business who think nothing of riding to work wearing coat and tie. At the central train station, the visitor will see so many idle bikes stacked up in mass, that they will wonder, how anybody ever finds their original bike, but somehow they do. You can use one of the many free bicycles that the city provides just by depositing a twenty kroner Danish coin in the locking device that holds the bike. This unlocks the bike and you are free to ride the bike around town. The bikes, when not in use, are stored in long, metal racks that must hold from ten to twenty vehicles. There they remain rain or shine until the next user comes along.
becki kain December 02, 2012 at 03:17 PM
personally, I would ride (the all of 3 miles it is for my commute each way) at least twice a week, if michigan avenue could be made safeer. it's a good way to get my exercise and get to work
Lee Jacobsen December 02, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Bikes for the masses, and places to tie them up, just like horses in the old west, would bring an old form of transportation back to life for the city of Dearborn, and get us all in better physical shape as well. Here is a site that lists the best 50 cities for bikes.http://www.bicycling.com/news/advocacy/america’s-top-50-bike-friendly-cities I notice Ann Arbor is among them. One obvious reason for that is that students and bikes are an item. Perhaps we can get some ideas and work our way towards getting on the list. I notice Grand Rapids, of all places , is also on the list. We don't want to go overboard, but make it safe to ride to a local store, have a place to park the bike, lock it up, and not worry about a car for a change. I try to ride the bike to work each day, only 11 miles one way, most of it a beautiful route on Hines drive. The one mile on side streets and sidewalks to get to Hines Drive is the hardest part as it certainly, with texting and all from cars, makes you extremely alert concerning one's surroundings. A great idea, how can we help to move it forward?
POWDERBURNER December 02, 2012 at 09:14 PM
So I guess we don't have enough sidewalks? Who the heck wants to be like Ann Arbor. You people make me sick. No wonder all the idiotic millages get passed in this "every day's like X-mas" town with free stuff and we got stuck with obongo for 4 more years. I don't have any brats and am forced to pay for your kids free education, and now I drive 25 miles to work every night 'cuz obongos policies closed my plant but will have to pay for your bike paths. How 'bout dedicated traffic lanes for immigrants who can't drive. That I'd support.
becki kain December 02, 2012 at 09:42 PM
No, we don't have enough sidewalks. Have you tried to ride and throw 5 lanes of Michigan Avenue on a bike? even a motorcycle? Ann Arbor is a very wealthy city so I fail to see how trying to be like them is a bad thing. I don't have children either but I have the balls to post under my own name, unlike you.

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