Protected bike lanes, traffic circles, ferry services and a promenade are among the ideas being contemplated to improve mobility on Belle Isle.
And the state Department of Natural Resources is urging members of the public to weigh in.
The DNR is accepting feedback through July 24 on a host of recommendations to make travel to and from the Detroit island park safer. The ideas are the product of a 12-month multimodal mobility study being led by the DNR and Belle Isle Conservancy to find ways to better manage parking, traffic patterns and wayfinding on the island. Consultants with Detroit-based Wade Trim hope to complete the study by the end of 2023.
The reminder comes after more than 100 people turned up for a weekend open house on the island to share findings and gather visitor responses. The comment period is one part of the overall public feedback efforts tied to the project, DNR officials note.
“Public feedback is one of the major components of this study, so we want to extend opportunities for input a while longer,” Amanda Treadwell, an urban field planner for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said in a Wednesday news release.
Proposed improvements include converting the main road around the island to two-way and adding traffic circles for safer and easier access as well as protected bike lanes on MacArthur Bridge, more accessible toll booths and parking sites. The plans also call for more signage and public transit options, like ferry service.
Last year, the island saw about five million visitors – nearly doubling its annual visits since it began operating as a state park in 2014 under a 30-year lease arranged as part of the city’s bankruptcy.
Detroit residents and park visitors have long complained about speeding, distracted driving and crashes on Belle Isle, including a fatal hit-and-run crash last summer that killed a young beachgoer. Transportation advocates have decried fatal crashes and frequent accidents resulting from what they contend is unsafe infrastructure that has prioritized vehicles over pedestrians and bicyclists. Some have called for vehicles to be banned from the park.
Wade Trim collected data on modes of transportation at dozens of intersections last summer and through an aerial traffic inventory study as well as in-person observations of how visitors use and move around the park. The consultants also conducted on-site surveys with hundreds of visitors and held talks with the city, island tenants and community groups.