Local communities will be getting grant money for a bike-sharing program in the metro Detroit area.

Local communities will be getting grant money for a bike-sharing program in the metro Detroit area.

Photo provided by Kevin Vettraino

Detroit receives funds to help bicycle, pedestrian transportation

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published June 22, 2018

DETROIT — On June 13, SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, awarded nearly $13 million in Transportation Alternatives Program funding, and more than $900,000 in Planning Assistance Program funding, to local communities for a total of 50 projects.

This funding is meant to contribute to southeast Michigan’s regional trail system and improve safety, and it includes two notable projects in Detroit. A total of $495,380 was provided to foster a new multi-community bike-sharing program in Detroit, as well as in Berkley, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Oak Park and Royal Oak. The city of Detroit also received $1.2 million from SEMCOG to make nonmotorized infrastructure improvements.

“For these projects, we looked at a lot of regional traffic and nonmotorized plans, and these projects provide new transportation options, have a direct impact on helping get people out of cars, and complement other projects going on the area,” said Kevin Vettraino, manager of plan implementation at SEMCOG.

The bike-sharing program is designed to help people better get into and out of Detroit, as well as around Detroit, with less reliance on cars.

“The first one would continue progress made by the MoGo bike-share program in Detroit, as well as help make connections to jobs or other locations,” said Vettraino. “Other locations, like Berkley, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Oak Park and Royal Oak, are hoping to take a similar model and transfer it north along the Livernois corridor. They want to bridge these communities so you can travel from, say, Royal Oak to downtown Detroit.”

Vettraino said SEMCOG and TAP programs are working to ensure that biking and walking options are available for Detroit-area residents as a realistic means of getting from place to place. 

“We’re estimating 30 or 31 stops, with 140 total bikes across those communities,” he said. “This also would piggyback on other TAP projects from the past, such as creating designated bike lanes that provide safer access for biking. The hope is to one day have a seamless transition between the bike-sharing programs in various communities.”

According to a spokesperson, MoGo is glad that bike-sharing programs are catching on and that more options will build on the success it’s already seen in Detroit.

“With more than 132,000 rides taken by over 23,000 riders in its first year of operations, MoGo has quickly become a part of the city’s transportation ecosystem,” MoGo spokesperson Sydney Perkins said in an email. “MoGo’s mission is to serve a wide range of people and needs, and our team is excited for new opportunities to advance this mission, both in the city of Detroit and in additional communities in the region.”

The nonmotorized infrastructure improvements will be aimed at improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and ensuring they are able to share the road with automobiles.

“(The second distribution) will be looking at the downtown area and will look at road alignments to add protected bike lanes or improving crosswalks,” Vettraino said. “This would also include widening sidewalks or making roads more pedestrian friendly. The streets are Adams, Park, Grand Circus, Grand River, Clifford, Gratiot, Library and Griswold. These are infrastructure improvements.”

He added that this project will serve many purposes to help make Detroit a city that is more welcoming to visitors and more open to residents.

“This will make downtown more accessible to those visiting and slow down traffic on certain roads so people can walk and bike from place to place more easily and safely,” he said. “It makes the core of the city a more walkable city.”

Those who were responsible for choosing the projects that benefited from these funds said it should result in more options and better quality of life for those in the metro Detroit area.

“Walking and biking improvements implement regional planning priorities, offering transportation choices, promoting safety for all road users, and improving quality of life in southeast Michigan” Kathleen Lomako, the executive director of SEMCOG, said in a press release.

Those behind the funding said projects like this are crucial in ensuring that Detroit keeps up its recent financial improvement. Vettraino said having new attractions in Detroit is no good if people can’t get to them.

“Regarding bike sharing, if you live somewhere in Oakland or Macomb county, you can park your car in a more affordable location and then take a bike to make it to that final destination if that destination is out of walking distance,” he said. “It extends the range people can go; it eliminates the reliance on using motor vehicles and will eliminate congestions while providing a healthy and more environmentally friendly option for transportation. This is a big step, as tourism and visits to the city have been increasing in the last couple of years.”