Plans in place for Gordie Howe Bridge bike path to downtown – in Detorit

David Lafreniere
By David Lafreniere January 12, 2018 14:05

Bikes ready for a ride to a bike trail.

By David Lafreneire

When the new Gordie Howe Bridge opens it will have bike and pedestrian lanes that will connect to downtown Detroit and existing bike infrastructure.

“What we are doing is creating an enhanced connectivity network of trails which is just underway right now,” said Michigan Governor’s point man for the bridge, Andrew Doctoroff. “With the support of Michigan Natural Resources trust fund money, we will have trails that connect to what is already happening on the east side where there is much greater publication of trails. We really want to have it all connect to the bridge.”

On the Canadian side, to connect the bridge to other parts of the city you are going to need landscaping and directional signage and wayfinding signage and “getting it right is critical”, said WDBA focus group member and CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island Gordon Orr.

“I have been to a number of meetings over the last couple of years and we’ve all talked about what’s going to be on our side when they come across,” said Orr. “It’s fine to put a bike lane there, but what infrastructure do you have in place for them to continue to customs or ride to wherever their destination is and help them find their way.”

While there are no firm plans in place, Orr said there is some discussion going on and there is still time to do it.

Bike lanes on the bridge opens a whole other opportunity for bringing visitors across the bridge, according to Orr. He said the current city council has spent more money on cycling infrastructure than any other council before it.

“I think at the end of the day, that cycle tourism is part of major pillar of the minister of tourism, culture and sport,” said Orr. “It’s a big pet project of hers. I personally and professionally think it allows people a different way of seeing the region. It’s environmentally friendly, it’s active living.”

Cycle tourism is important to the region. The bike train was a program that Orr and TWEPI worked on probably a decade ago with Via Rail. It allowed people to bring their bikes to Windsor by train and TWEPI worked with Great Waterfront Adventure Trail to connect the train station to bike paths, according to Orr.

If you open the bridge and open a bike lane, without infrastructure in place, or open the bridge but not the bike lane, that’s going to be a negative experience that is not going to be good for anyone, said Orr.

Cycling advocates are asking the city to revamp its priorities and avoid using the recreationally driven 1980’s bicycle use master plan. Instead they want the focus to be on data it has collected, including a survey of over 1000 Windsor cyclists.

Oliver Swainson discusses bike infrastructure at Bike Windsor Essex.

In the survey done by Bike Windsor Essex three themes emerged for what people want to see with cycling infrastructure, according to the organization’s mechanical education coordinator Oliver Swainson.

“Connectivity between existing networks, whether it was connecting Riverside to Walkerville or Walkerville to downtown or getting any kind of infrastructure downtown,” said Swainson.

The second theme was setting downtown as a priority.

“It is completely devoid of any and all bike infrastructure,” said Swainson. “Its lack of infrastructure makes it a priority for getting something.”

The last theme that came out of the survey was an improvement on the overall quality of cycling infrastructure.

“No longer settling for simple painted line bike lanes, but elevating it to a protected and buffered bike lane.”

Windsor and Essex County will get $3 million of $93 million that the Ontario government has recently dedicated to commuter bike infrastructure for the province.

City council has set aside millions for future cycling infrastructure projects. With the additional funds from the province the city is waiting to hear which of its projects will be eligible for the provincial grant money.

David Lafreniere
By David Lafreniere January 12, 2018 14:05

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