FERNDALE — The Ferndale Downtown Development Authority has not been coy about making downtown Ferndale an easy location to reach and navigate by any transportation means necessary.
In the past year, the DDA has installed five on-street bike racks in different locations in Ferndale, including Nine Mile Road, Troy and Vester streets. In May, a sixth on-street bike rack will be installed on Woodward Avenue, the first of its kind on that street.
“It is five times more safe for people to bike with traffic on the road as opposed to sidewalks where many collisions could occur with drive approaches and streets, as well as even pedestrians,” DDA Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius said. “This will be a continuation of more to come this season. One bike corral can hold up to 12 bikes, making a parking space that much more effective.
“The more we can provide opportunities to use multiple modes of transportation to get to downtown Ferndale, the stronger our economy will be.”
The bike rack will be installed in a former car parking space on the east side of Woodward, just north of Nine Mile, in front of Howe’s Bayou and Woodward Imperial. Sheppard-Decius said the DDA had to submit details and drawings to the Michigan Department of Transportation to receive the permit and she was excited at how they embraced the project.
The MDOT Complete Streets policy program helps guide development of roadways to more user-friendly modes of transportation.
“Obviously, (bicycling) is gaining popularity across the state and as a primary mode of transportation,” said Josh DeBruyn, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for MDOT. “It is critical for younger people who can’t drive or older people who choose not to drive. Next to transit, bicycling is one of the more popular options to pursue because it is a little less effort than walking and you can go longer distances.”
DeBruyn said MDOT reviews each city and community on a separate basis depending on their needs and options. With a place like Ferndale, he said, providing projects that help encourage other modes of transportation outside of motor vehicles is important.
“Certainly, the more people you can get out of a car, walking, biking and using transit, studies show it helps create desirability of a community, and Complete Streets contributes to that,” DeBruyn said. “Each project is very sensitive to the context of a community and what the desires are and what they support. A project like this helps contribute to the vibrancy of the downtown area.”
Over the past four years, the DDA has added approximately 35 bike racks to the sidewalks all over town before installing the first on-street bike parking rack in May 2012. The new rack on Woodward will include yellow U-shaped rails and be protected from traffic with rubberized bumpers and traffic delineators.
While the DDA has seen positive results from its five previous on-street bike racks, Sheppard-Decius feels the Woodward one will bring with it the extra incentive of staying out of the motor vehicle traffic on the busy street and enjoying more of the local surroundings.
“Some people say you can bike as fast as driving to a location in downtown because you save time through lights and traffic,” Sheppard-Decius said. “Overall, this is one step for us toward working to that overall goal of making Woodward Avenue much more multimodal. In Ferndale, we like to be trend-setters and we want to make Woodward the next great thing.”