Feb 21, 2024 - News

Woodward's confusing new bike lanes raise worries

A postal truck is parked on bike lanes in Ferndale in front of Como's.

This postal truck was one of several vehicles improperly using Woodward's new bikes yesterday. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

Woodward Avenue's new bike lanes north of 8 Mile in Ferndale are confusing some drivers and raising public safety concerns.

Why it matters: This redesign of Woodward could be replicated in other cities along the iconic roadway as government officials look to modernize regional transportation with more options.

  • But the rollout has not been smooth. Axios Detroit witnessed several vehicles, including an Amazon delivery truck and a U.S. Postal Service truck, parked in the bike lanes Tuesday.

Yes, but: Although the bike lanes are open for use, nearly 1,000 delineators to separate vehicle and bike traffic along Woodward haven't been installed yet due to the winter weather.

What they're saying: "The short term, yeah, I'm very concerned about safety," Ferndale city manager Joseph Gacioch tells Axios. "I'm really looking forward to finishing the project this spring, getting those delineators out and completing some kind of visual buffer that is required to norm drivers to the new normal."

State of play: The bike lanes zigzag along Woodward to accommodate street parking spaces, making it difficult to discern where to park.

  • Parking in the bike lanes could result in a $50 ticket.

Between the lines: The Michigan Department of Transportation's original plan was to simply resurface Woodward and install ADA-compliant pedestrian ramps at intersections. But Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge approached the agency with the "road diet" concept that included new bike lanes.

  • Officials discussed the possibility of moving the curb to segregate bike lanes from the parking lanes. But that would've required rebuilding the surrounding drainage infrastructure — a job footed by the cities because it was outside MDOT's original scope of work, MDOT spokesperson Jeff Cranson tells Axios.
  • Moving the curbs exceeded Ferndale's project budget, Gacioch says, which relied on grants and other funding outside the city's general fund.
  • The entire project cost $9 million.

Meanwhile, bicyclists are beginning to use the new lanes as the weather warms.

  • Ferndale resident Adam Milgrom tells Axios that he's used the bike lanes a couple of times and encountered a confused driver blocking his path.
  • "It's weird that it zigzags," Milgrom says. "But it's certainly better than not having it."

The bottom line: "I'd say it's about 90% done," Gacioch says. "But that last 10% is pretty important and we're seeing why."

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