Ideas sought for pedestrian paths in SE Michigan

SEMCOG held public meeting on future development of non-motorized trails

By Dean Cousino
The Monroe Evening News

MONROE, Mich. (AP) — Tom DeSloover of Carleton would like to see the crumbling bike path along I-275 from the Wayne County line upgraded in Monroe County.

“I’d like to see it hook up with Sterling State Park,” DeSloover, 64, said. “It’s difficult to ride this trail. I’m retired and ride at least six miles a day. I like to make long trips every once in a while.”

David Gnaedinger of Monroe enjoys longdistance biking and rode more than 125 miles around the perimeter of the county. He would like to see more paved shoulders on local roads to accommodate bikers.

“I ride county roads all the time,” the 63-year-old biker who rode more than 6,000 miles in 2012, said. “You ride a good road and then you find a lousy road and you’re stuck. I like riding on M- 50 because it has paved shoulders, but there are no shoulders on Dunbar or Albain Roads. Granted, you have more traffic on M-50, but you have a lot more room, too.”

Both men wrote their suggestions recently on maps displayed at Monroe City Hall during a three-hour public meeting on the future development of non-motorized trails and bike paths in the county, according to The Monroe Evening News.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments hosted the session, the last of eight similar meetings held in southeast Michigan this summer to consider ways to improve bicycle and pedestrian paths and amenities for bikers and non-motorized travelers.

SEMCOG and the Michigan Department of Transportation are ironing out a regional non-motorized plan for a seven-county region and the City of Detroit. For many communities, biking and pedestrian paths improve quality of life for residents and make the communities more desirable, officials said.

Brian Pawlik, project manager for SEMCOG, told the more than 40 people present that one of the goals of the plan is to create an inventory of existing and developing bike facilities in the region, such as bike lanes and paved shoulders.

Other goals include:

— Developing guidelines for new facilities.

— Addressing the most critical “gaps” or impediments to safe travel within the nonmotorized corridors.

— Creating a planning resource for communities in the seven-county area to coordinate facilities across boundaries.

Pawlik urged residents to take part in an online survey that focuses on bicycling and is divided into four sections.

The survey is available at by clicking a link under “Hot Topics.” It takes about 20 minutes to finish, about five minutes a section. Citizens can complete the first two sections if needed and then come back later and do the latter two sections in a separate entry, he said.

Plans for non- motorized trails from both the Village of Dundee and the City of Monroe are being incorporated into the plan, he said. Other area communities like Frenchtown Township and the City of Milan have language in their master recreation plans that include non-motorized elements. These, too, can be added to the regional plan, Pawlik said.

Communities that have no plans still can be part of the plan. SEMCOG has staff available to assist communities with drawing up their plans.

“If you want to see something happen, you need to talk with your local elected officials to get that going,” the manager said.

SEMCOG is building a data base for logging non-motorized trails to create maps for the public to use. It wants to find out where people are going on these trails and what obstacles are preventing them from getting to their destinations, he said.

Obstacles could include pavement conditions, large intersections, freeways and railroads.

Rob Peven, director of the Monroe County Planning Department, said the county has a conceptual plan for bike paths and nonmotorized trails, but more is needed to create a linked system that would enable users to reach destination points like the city, Lake Erie, schools and entertainment venues.

“We don’t have a good network of designated bike trails,” said Peven, who also rode his bike to the meeting. “We’re sorely lacking in this area. People want to see more trails. It’s a matter of funding and priorities. The (main) source of funding comes from the same pot of money used for roads.”

Visitors at the forum were able to write suggestions on maps of different parts of the county that were displayed in the council chambers. Pawlik said a number of ideas and recommendations were received to identify gaps in the trail systems.

“We had considerable input and one-on-one discussions, particularly in Monroe and Frenchtown areas,” he said. “This all feeds into our data analysis and the rest of our planning effort. Our goal is to have a onestop shop to any plan in the seven-county region.”

Maps with some of the basic concepts and trails identified so far will be posted within the next two weeks on SEMCOG’s website, he said. Included will be the Downriver Linked Greenways bike path that links the Huron-Clinton Metroparks with Lake Erie and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

Some of those who attended the forum rode a bike to the meeting, including Lee Markham of Monroe, who also rides to work each morning. He and his wife, Faye, like to ride to the library, Munson Park, the state park and the River Raisin National Battlefield Park.

“I ride as often as I can,” Markham, 64, said. “The battlefield is already a great destination point. There are others ... If you build it, people will come.”

Jeanne Micka said public grants like the Kellogg Grant can help local officials build new trails.

“There needs to be some funding devices because it’s not easy to do,” Micka said. “It does take some thought and a lot of planning.”

Another public meeting on the regional plan will be held in Monroe County before the plan is completed in June, Pawlik said. It will likely be held in another community outside of Monroe, such as Luna Pier or Dundee, he said.


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