In Ferndale, even in the middle of winter, you can find bikes -- whether it’s bikes to rent, bikes to buy, bike lanes or people simply riding their bike. Woodward Avenue is in the heart of the city’s downtown but Philip Lombard said he doesn’t feel safe riding his bike there.
“It’s it’s not easy to go north or northwest without taking Woodward. If you do you have to go in all the side streets, which adds a lot of time and out of the way, but it’s too dangerous to go on Woodward as it is now,” Lombard said.
Even walking on Woodward doesn’t feel safe to him.
“You can’t even get across Woodward Avenue in one light unless you run, which I do sometimes,” Lombard said.
Ferndale Mayor Melanie Piana said she has been hearing from residents and business about how unsafe Woodward Avenue feels.
“I’ve been hearing from residents and businesses for over a decade how unsafe Woodward feels to to walk, to even drive because of cycling visibility problems from the side streets turning on the Woodward, as well as crossing Woodward,” Piana said.
The city, in partnership with the city of Pleasant Ridge was awarded a $2.3 million grant from Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Southeast Michigan Council of Governments to make a change.
Matching grant funding will come Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge via Michigan Act 51 dollars generated by state taxes on gas and vehicle registrations. Ferndale will pay $1.23 million and Pleasant Ridge $140,000.
The plan is to take out the outer lane on each side of traffic to create bike lanes.
“The way that’s going to be reconfigured is going to be to curb, bike lane protection, parking and then traveling in each direction,” Piana said.
Priority improvements to alleyways, sidewalks and shorter pedestrian crossings are also part of the project.
It’s taken three years to get to this point; the process included multiple rounds of public engagement with residents and businesses.
“The street was really just designed for efficient and fast car travel. And now we’re saying ‘Hey, we’re gonna make it safer,” Piana said.
The final designs will be finished in April and construction is expected to start in the fall after the Woodward Dream Cruise.
MDOT will host a community meeting this winter to share a project timeline and more.