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Let’s share the road, Detroit!

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Bike lanes, rail line, oh my!

Michigan Avenue bike lanes being painted this fall
Courtesy of Detroit Greenways

Detroit, the Motor City, is known for having really wide streets to accommodate all the traffic. Wait, we don’t have that much traffic anymore! With many of our major arteries containing six or more lanes, it makes sense to divvy them up into streets that work for all traffic - bike, rail, and pedestrians included. So let’s recap where to drive, where to park, and where to allow others to share the road.

First, the M-1 rail is installed, smaller testing has started, and real, legit testing of the streetcars will start soon. Woodward is open again for all traffic (although you may see some cones here and there). Although it may be tempting to park along the rail line, don’t be that car! We’ve already seen some incidents of this happening downtown when the speeder was testing the rail. Yes, there won’t be parking along most parts of Woodward where the M-1 rail runs. There is still plenty of parking in structures and along side streets. We’ll get used to it, I swear. And as for bicyclists, they’re encouraged to use Cass, not Woodward, if they’re travelling north/south.

Second, and one that seems to be quite confusing to many, are the new protected bike lanes making their way across the city. You might have noticed them along Livernois, Jefferson in Jefferson Chalmers, and Michigan Avenue in Corktown. Friends and tipsters have noted that especially in Corktown, many seem to be confused as to where cars should park.

Traffic lane, parking lane, buffer, bike lane, sidewalk
Courtesy of NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide

Note: These bike lanes in Corktown are not completed yet, so be patient with them for now. They are not painted in green, which is confusing. Thankfully, we noticed these new signs today, which should help.

Courtesy of Chad Rochkind

So the bike lane is closest to the sidewalk now, with a narrow buffer zone, and then parking spaces for cars. Does it seem weird if you’re not used to this? Yes, but it’s safer for bicyclists, as they’re not directly in traffic and they’re not in danger of getting hit by a car door opening.

Todd Scott from Detroit Greenways stresses that these are not complete yet, and there may be more in the medians to delineate which lane is for which vehicle. Until then, he’s written an excellent blog post about how we need to be patient and careful when and where we’re parking. If you have feedback about the bike lanes, email them at and they can relay concerns to the city.

It’s a brave new world for Detroit, friends, and we’re all going to have to relearn where to drive, park, and bike.