On July 10th, I had the pleasure of attending Training Wheels 2014 – a bicycle facility design training session sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), hosted by the City of Lansing, and taught by two excellent instructors from the T.Y. Lin International office in Chicago – Nate Roseberry, PE and Tim Gustafson, AICP. The six–hour course was superb and covered a wide assortment of bicycle infrastructure topics including:
- Principles of Bicycle Facility Design
- On-Street Bicycle Facilities (Shared Roadway, Paved Shoulder, Shared Lane Markings, Bike Lanes, Buffered Bike Lanes, Protected Bike Lanes/Cycle Tracks, and Bike Boulevards)
- Off-Street Bicycle Facilities (Shared Use Paths)
- Bike Parking
While, as an avid bike commuter, I was familiar with most of the issues surrounding each of these types of facilities, the session was quite useful in providing more details about their design principles, their pros and cons, statistical data on each topic, and their proper application within an urban, suburban, or rural context.
The classroom training was followed by several hours of pedaling the local bicycle infrastructure of Greater Lansing and discussing the merits of each design as seen in real world applications throughout the city. Afterwards, we participated in a design challenge related to one of the roadway segments – Saginaw Avenue near Frandor, which if you are familiar with Greater Lansing, is quite the headache for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike.
The only disappointment with this session came from those who did NOT participate – not a single representative of any county road commission/department in the area attended Training Wheels 2014 – not one! Given the general animosity and sometimes outspoken hostility directed towards complete streets and non-motorized travel by county road commissions/departments in Michigan, this is not totally surprising, but one always hopes that someone, somewhere amongst all our road commissions/departments there would be at least one open mind to new (and often better) ideas. One can only shake their head in disbelief at the cynical silos some professionals build around themselves.
If you get the opportunity to attend one of these sessions, please do. It is worth every minute and in our case did not cost a cent. Kudos to MDOT, the City of Lansing, and the representatives of T.Y. Lin International. All of you deserve many accolades for a job well done, as those of us attending can now safely take our training wheels off.