If you’ve been on Cass Avenue lately, you might’ve seen some kiosks being installed along the sidewalks in a few places. Or the smooth new blacktop road surface.
They’re part of larger plans to bring protected bike lanes to the street, from West Grand Boulevard in the New Center all the way to Lafayette near the riverfront downtown.
Two kiosks have been installed — one in front of Old Main, on the Wayne State campus, and the other near the Rosa Parks Transit Center downtown.
“It’s gonna count bikes riding in the bike lane and then it’s going to count warm bodies going on the sidewalk. And it’ll keep them both separate,” said Todd Scott, executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition, which advocated for the project.
Data from the kiosks will be uploaded to a server for analysis — and hopefully used to justify more of the same kind of projects around the city, Scott said.
Also included in the project are bike boxes — green-painted areas for bikes at the head of traffic lanes at traffic signals. They’re meant to provide bicyclists with a designated safe space and a chance to get ahead of vehicles at a red light.
— Detroit Greenways (@DetroitGreenway) July 28, 2017
The project is intertwined with $63 million in road improvement projects planned this year in the city. The Cass Avenue improvements stemmed from a $1 million federal grant allocated through the Michigan Department of Transportation to offset the lack of safe bike access along Woodward Avenue because of the QLINE tracks.
We’re not sure when the project will be completed. An MDOT spokeswoman forwarded me to Richard Doherty, an engineer with the Detroit Department of Public Works, who did not respond to phone and email messages. But the resurfacing portion of the project appears to be mostly done, along with some of the green-painted bike boxes.
You can see the original bid and scope of work for the work here. It calls for extending the bike lanes from West Grand Boulevard south to Congress. From there, they would go east to Washington Boulevard, then south to Jefferson, east to Bates and south to Atwater Street to connect with existing bike lanes near the RiverWalk at the Port Authority.
Back in May, we had Scott on as a guest on the Daily Detroit Happy Hour podcast. The whole episode is worth a listen, but here’s how he explained the Cass Ave. project:
“Initially the plan was to build buffered bike lanes as an alternative safe route to Woodward due to the QLINE, and we got some funding from MDOT to make that happen. But when the new (Detroit) planning director came online, he believes the minimum design standard is the protected bike lane, so they changed the design for Cass to be protected, which is why it’s taking longer than expected. We were hoping to get this done before the QLINE started. But it’s gonna be a great project. It is going to be a tight squeeze to get everything in there. They’re pushing some of the limits on some stuff. We’ve done some traffic counts of bikes on Cass. A couple of years ago we measured over 500 people in a 24-hour period, which is pretty significant. So we expect once the bike lanes go in we’re going to see even more people using Cass.”