Bicycle-only lanes currently exist on East Fourth Street in Royal Oak. New north and south bike lanes will expand bicycle-only lanes to portions of Washington Avenue and North Main Street, as well as Campbell Road.

Bicycle-only lanes currently exist on East Fourth Street in Royal Oak. New north and south bike lanes will expand bicycle-only lanes to portions of Washington Avenue and North Main Street, as well as Campbell Road.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

North and south bike lanes coming to Royal Oak roads

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published April 10, 2018

ROYAL OAK — Based on a recommendation from the Royal Oak City Commission, Royal Oak will create new north and south bike lanes along Washington Avenue, from Woodward Avenue to Euclid, east across Euclid, and along North Main Street, from Euclid to Normandy Road.

Officials estimate that the approximately 3 3/4-mile project will begin in mid-June and will take approximately four to eight weeks to complete.

The route includes “road diets,” or changing four-lane roads to three lanes, with a center turn lane, two directional lanes for traffic and two outside bike lanes.

The “road diets” are planned for Washington, from Woodward to Lincoln Avenues, and for North Main Street, from Euclid to Normandy Road, with the exception of approximately 300 feet north and south of 12 Mile Road, per a request from the county.

The city will also install a traffic signal at Euclid and North Main Street, with a weight-sensitive bike pad for bicyclists to activate the signal for a left turn onto North Main Street. 

Royal Oak City Engineer Matthew Callahan said two such bike pads already exist at North Connecticut Avenue and 12 Mile, and at East Harrison Avenue and South Main Street.

The areas not on “road diets” will include sharrows and signage to designate that they are for bicyclists and motorists to share the road. A sharrow is a bicyclist-shaped road marking that indicates where people should cycle.

The share-the-road areas include Washington, from Lincoln Avenue to Euclid, along Euclid, and the area surrounding 12 Mile Road. Callahan said the city will not remove the angled parking along Washington.

Officials hope the new routes, including the “road diets,” will help motorists to slow down and pay more attention while driving. Callahan said the added left turn lanes help prevent rear-end crashes by allowing those wishing to turn to have the ability to get out of the way of traffic.

The plan also includes new landscaped pedestrian islands along North Main Street for safer crossing.

Currently, the only established bike-only lanes in the city are on East Fourth Street.

Additionally, a Campbell Road improvement project slated for this summer includes bike lanes. The completed road will have a center turn lane, two directional lanes for traffic and two outside bike lanes that would connect to Ferndale’s Hilton Road bicycle route via the East Fourth Street bike lanes.

Callahan said the city would review the timing of traffic lights along the streets impacted by “road diets” so that the reduction of a lane in either direction would not negatively impact travel times.

He said the city applied for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant to cover the cost of the work.

Callahan said the city has been working “pretty heavily” on the project in question for approximately eight years.

He said the city advertised the project April 3, the plans would be ready to pick up the following week, the city would open the bids May 7, and then the City Commission would vote on a contractor at its May 21 meeting.

“It will probably be under construction sometime mid-June,” Callahan said, adding that he expected the project to wrap up in four to eight weeks. “They build the islands first, then grind off all the pavement striping, and they start putting down the lane lines, and then afterward, they start putting the crosswalk striping in,” he said.

Due to the need to order parts — including some custom pieces — for the traffic signal, he said that part of the plan may take up to 12 weeks.

The estimated cost of the project is approximately $800,000, and Callahan said another $50,000-$100,000 would likely go toward engineering and administrative costs. The full cost of the project is covered by money allocated from the state under Public Act 51, he said.

Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids said the new bike routes would include signage, road paint and green paint in areas where crashes are more probable in order to serve as a warning to motorists to be cautious.

“Green paint means cars do not belong in areas where there is green paint,” she said.

Davids said Royal Oak and Ferndale plan to partner to host bike law and bike safety classes in the future to help residents better understand bike lanes and how to navigate them.

In August 2016, Davids said, the city conducted a three-week pilot study by Detroit-based Opus International Consultants Inc. along Main Street to see how reducing four lanes of traffic to three, with a center turn lane and the two outside bike lanes, would work.

In short, she said, it was a disaster.

“People drove in the bike lanes. Cyclists didn’t always follow the rules — sometimes they rode in the bike lanes two abreast. They’re supposed to ride single file,” Davids said. “Some people thought bike lanes could go against traffic, so they were riding the wrong direction.”

Callahan said the portion in question was not the best choice, since approximately 20,000 cars travel along it daily. He said the city opted for different, less-traveled routes.

“The sections now where we’re going on Washington and North Main, we have 12,000 and 8,000 (daily), respectively,” he said. “The people that are negative feel they need to yell the loudest, but for the most part, the majority, they welcome change. They welcome new things that make it nicer for the neighborhoods.”

A possible concern, he said, is that vehicles seeking an alternate route around the roads with bike lanes will speed through residential streets.

“We picked Main Street so they have Crooks Road or Rochester Road if they need to get past Main Street,” Callahan said.

Despite the city’s efforts to publicize the impending bike lanes, including mailing out flyers with quarterly water bills and a Ride On campaign, Davids said some residents still are unaware that they are on the horizon.

“We’re beyond the point now whether you think bike lanes are a good idea or not,” she said. “It’s happened. Now everybody needs to come together and follow the rules of the road. My goal is to make sure people have a better understanding of how to use them.”

She said another benefit of the bike lanes is that they connect to the Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak High School, Royal Oak Middle School, Wagner Park and Clawson.

When the lanes open, she said the city plans to hold a community event and bike ride to raise awareness.

For more information, call the Royal Oak Engineering Division at (248) 246-3260 or visit