EDITOR'S NOTE: In a new series we call “Getting Around Metro Detroit we are highlighting problems and exploring the solutions, from auto insurance to potholes to regional transit or lack thereof
Imagine a world where you can ride a bike from Ferndale to Oak Park to Detroit on a designated bike lane the entire way. Well, local leaders are working to create this regional transit system for two wheels.
From South Beach to Fat Free, diet fads come and go. But the latest diet to hit metro Detroit doesn't involve food at all. It could be here to stay and it promises results.
“(We want) to create some bike lanes and a more walkable community by doing a road diet on 9 Mile road,” said Kim Marrone, economic development and communications director for the city of Oak Park.
A road diet is a lane reduction process, and in the city of Oak Park, 9 Mile Road is about to lose a few – a few lanes that is.
“It takes it from five lanes to three lanes,” Marrone said.
Funded by a grant awarded to Oak Park, the goal is to connect communities through adding bike lanes.
Officials in Oak Park have had talks with Southfield and partnered with Ferndale, while the city officials in Ferndale have had talks with Detroit.
“We know that people bike from Oak Park to Ferndale, from Ferndale to Detroit,” says Justin Lyons, planning manager for the city of Ferndale.
He says creating connected, protected bike lanes, “is a big priority in staying connected regionally.”
Ferndale is in the midst of installing “protected” bike lanes on Livernois, which is one of the first streets in the area to have them next to Cass Avenue in Detroit, which currently uses ballard’s along the bike lanes to create a barrier.
Protected bike lanes can also use street parking or concrete planters.
“We are using a mixture of those things to physically separate bicyclists from cars,” Lyons said.
Just like 9 Mile connects Oak Park to Ferndale, Livernois is a major connector between Ferndale and Detroit.
“We’re working on our protected bike lanes now and they’re working on some in the future on the Detroit side, and that connects to the Jo Louis Greenway, which is a 26 to 28 mile loop that is in Detroit but connects with regional neighbors as well,” Lyons said.
Creating a regional bike network could be life changing.
“The big thing we hear from employers is that filling positions is difficult," Marrone said. "Some of them can’t get to work because of transportation. This will allow those who were prevented from getting to work to take those jobs on now."
Think of it as regional transit on two wheels. And soon, you won’t even need to own a bike to use it.
You may have seen the MoGo bike sharing program in Detroit. It’s about to expand to include Berkley, Ferndale, Oak Park, Huntington Woods, and Royal Oak.
Soon riders will be able to rent a bike in Detroit and then dock it in Oak Park, Ferndale or anywhere else MoGo expands.