Bike Lanes, Bump-Outs, Crosswalks and More as Ferndale Considers Mobility Plan

Bike Lanes, Bump-Outs, Crosswalks and More as Ferndale Considers Mobility Plan

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 16, 2020)

Ferndale, MI – The City of Ferndale is continuing efforts to improve transportation options for all, with projects and discussions coordinated through the Ferndale Moves website.  Since the site began in 2014, along with the passage of Complete Streets ordinances, impacts of this targeted effort continue to be seen around town.

A public meeting was held virtually Dec. 9 to update the public on the successes and start planning for the future.  In progress is a Mobility Plan that “will take stock of Ferndale’s network of non-motorized transportation options, identify ways to improve the planning process, and plot a path forward for future street design projects.”

SUCCESSES SO FAR

Since Ferndale Moves began in 2014, the City has:

~ Received over $1 million in grants

~Added over 10 miles of bike lines protecting riders on most city-owned major streets

~Upgraded more than 60 pedestrian crossing

~Converted approximately 800 sidewalk ramps to ADA compliant ones

~Implemented 13 traffic calming projects

~Set up a bikeshare system with MoGo that also connects with neighboring communities

~Upgraded bus shelters

The City has also conducted a traffic study and safety audit of Woodward Avenue with a focus on biking, walking, and transit improvements. The study is part of an ongoing collaboration with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to add bike lanes.

FERNDALE MOVES GOALS MOVING FORWARD

Kristin Saunders of Toole Design is working with the City of Ferndale on the Mobility Plan.  She presented the proposed four goals of the plan, which are:

1 – Ensure mobility options are welcoming and available to all.

2 – Decrease emissions from transportation.

3 – Develop a network of safe and accessible routes connecting community destinations.

4 – Support high quality regional transit.

The idea, Saunders said, is “that your public space truly feels public.”  In addition to the improvements already made, the City is looking at a number of physical changes to make Ferndale accessible to all.

CROSSWALKS

Crosswalks are an easy way to make drivers more aware of pedestrians and those traversing in wheelchairs or strollers, or those on bicycles.  The City evaluated crossings and created a map where green shows acceptable crossings and red shows those that are more stressful.

Saunders explained that nationally experts recommend having a crosswalk every 200-600 feet, yet MDOT recommends 600 feet, and there are places on major roads like Woodward where the distance even exceeds that.

Ferndale’s Mobility Plan could include making crosswalks more visible, adding more painted crosswalks, or even including raised crosswalks.

“Raising crosswalks makes it easier for mobility devices, and it’s like a speedbump to cars,” Saunders said.

Pedestrian refuge islands are another option for slowing traffic and helping pedestrians feel safe.

SLOW ZONES/TRAFFIC CALMING

There are ways to slow traffic by making small changes to the streetscape.  Some options for this include signage reminding drivers to slow down, curb extensions that make the roadway feel smaller (thus prompting people to slow down), and traffic circles which are small decorative-looking medians at intersections that force drivers to slow as they drive around them.

WOODWARD AVENUE – BIKE LANES AND MORE

Barbara Mosier of Toole Design handled the presentation of what’s next for Woodward Avenue.  In January 2020 the City did a Woodward Avenue Road Diet Feasibility Study that examined taking the road from four lanes to three and adding bicycle lanes.

Mosier and her team observed that Woodward currently has four lanes plus a parking lane, narrow sidewalks, and cyclists using the sidewalks instead of the street.  “There’s a lot of competing uses in this space,” she said.  Yet the space used for the road is larger than necessary, with 42,116 cars per day on a road built to handle over 100,000.

In the short term, the parking lane could be removed to add the bike lane. A temporary concrete curb and plastic flex posts could protect the bike lanes from the traffic.

Long term road re-design could include a parking lane and a bike lane. The bike lane could be one-directional or two-way, and the sidewalks could be extended to allow for more accessible use.  A two-way bike lane would take up more space, however it would also reduce the chances of someone going the wrong way.  The plastic flex posts and concrete curb could be replaced by more aesthetic features such as planters or more decorative delineators.

The median was not considered in the road diet study because of the possibility of light rail or other regional public transit solutions ultimately going into that space.

OTHER IDEAS AND BIGGER DREAMS

The City is already active in ongoing discussions on public transit, and making upgrades to bus stops is also on their radar. Other suggestions include ongoing work to identify bike routes, literature to help people bike safely and to help drivers share the road, and doing studies of pedestrian and bicycle counts.

Saunders also asked those on the Zoom meeting to share their dream projects.  Many suggestions echoed what the City already has been planning, such as the bike lanes and re-design of Woodward, improving the 8 Mile and Woodward intersection, and adding slow zones.  Others included expanded public transit, and a pedestrian overpass on 9 Mile so people on foot don’t have to wait for trains.

WHAT’S NEXT?

City staff and the design team will take back recommendations and feedback from the meeting, and create a plan to present to City Council for approval.  The public is welcome to review documents on the Ferndale Moves website and to chime in at the meeting which is expected to be in early 2021.

Mayor Melanie Piana, who has been a driving force of the complete streets movement in Ferndale and regionally, is proud of the way the first six years have gone.

“This was really community-focused, and council took those recommendations and input from the residents, and took street by street as it was up for repaving and as projects came forward,” she said.  I’m really encouraged by tonight’s level of participation and technical knowledge… I’m really excited that this plan will come to council and we’ll set the course for the next five years of what our streets can look like.”

Learn more on www.FerndaleMoves.com.

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