The state Department of Natural Resources and Belle Isle Conservancy are working to gather feedback on options to make traveling on Belle Isle safer and easier. (Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources, by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Jacob Chamberlin)

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. 

A July 8, 2023, open house was held on Belle Isle to gather feedback for an ongoing mobility study. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker)

“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.

To learn more, the public can watch this recorded presentation and visit the project website. Feedback can be sent via email to or by phone at (313) 261-5059. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Without being able to drive, I cannot get to the park. I am sufficiently handicapped that boarding busses is almost impossible. and, personally, I hate traffic circles and purposely avoid areas that have them.

  2. Two way traffic will make it less safe. A ferry would cost too much. Small shuttle busses should be sufficient. The island needs more 🌲 trees 🌴 and restaurants and concessions with good food. Clean rest rooms.

  3. Make a designated walk run area,so people are not in traffic! Bring in a band shell so there is a stage and a grassy knoll for concerts and school plays!Hire teens in the summer to keep liter and clean restrooms!!

  4. Create well maintained walk ways throughout the park. Removing weeds regularly and edging sidewalks would do so much for the overall appearance. The park continues to look ragged.

  5. It’s a people problem not a road problem. The park has gotten along fine for over 75 years, drivers don’t pay attention when driving. If you have two way traffic all you will get is head on collisions. It would be good if they had a bike, walking and jogging lane.

  6. I’m getting older and having trouble walking any distance and getting up and down the stairs of a bus. Better parking areas on the island would be good. Two lane traffic would cause more accidents. Cycling would be helpful or walking lane. upkeep of the weeds and area along with routine bathroom cleaning will be a big plus.

  7. Would it be possible to add another bridge? & I think water taxi’s would be a hit! Not only to the island but on the river period! That would save a lot of time. Especially if we can get it to go to Canada!

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