Ferndale launches first downtown bike storage facility, with more mobility planning in the works

Ferndale has earned a reputation as a community that embraces innovative biking and walking infrastructure. But it's certainly not resting on its laurels. In fact, Oakland County city has been quite busy lately, both working on new infrastructure and updating its vision for community mobility. 

Perhaps the coolest of the new developments is the launch of Ferndale's new downtown bike room. The space, which opened last month, offers residents andBikeroom at The Dot. Courtesy City of Ferndale. visitors offers residents and visitors a safe place to store their bikes while their spending time in the area. It's located at the dot, a city-owned mixed-used parking facility at 221 west troy street that opened this past December. 

"Personally, I'm very excited," says Justin Lyons, Ferndale's planning manager."We'll have a permit for people, so if they want to ride their bike downtown, they'll have a closed space that's climate-controlled year-round and secure."

Prospective users can purchase monthly or yearly rental passes through parkferndale.com. Through that site, they can download the JustIN Mobile app, which will grant them 24/7 access to the bike room after a short waiting period. In the not-too-distant future, people will also be able to buy daily access and a physical access bracelet. 

Beyond the new bike room, Ferndale is also in the process of bringing painted bike lanes to West Marshall Street. They're being installed as part of the city's resurfacing of the road between Woodward Avenue and Allen street.

"It's a local emergency road, so we had to leave off a number of things to have on-street parking and emergency access," says Lyons. "We were able to do the conventional striped bike lanes [and] give it a road diet. It's a better way to distribute people along the street."

The resurfacing project is being funded in part by $373,386 Transportation Alternatives Program grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation. In addition to the new bike lanes and on-street parking, West Marshall Street will also be getting, bio-retention areas for stormwater management, bike parking, mid-block pedestrian crossings, curb extensions, and new tree plantings, as well as new asphalt. 

Resurfacing of the road began in April. West Marshall Street is expected to be open again to traffic this August, while the other aspects of the project like tree plantings should be wrapped up by October. 

Upgrading mobility

Ferndale's community mobility plan, Ferndale Moves, has also gotten its own fresh coat of paint. On April 26, Ferndale's city council voted to adopt an update of the community's mobility plan. The approval followed a community engagement process that kicked off last summer and included small focus groups, online meetings, and an online map where stakeholders could bring up issues and propose improvements

The new document is an update of the original Ferndale Moves plan, which was adopted in 2014.

"It's a five-year project list," says Lyons. "It's got a number of different goals for mobility across the city. Obviously, we had to take into account the health and safety measures that were going on at the time with COVID, but we still reached a lot of community members." 

Courtesy City of Ferndale.Among other things, the document references the ongoing efforts to bring bike lanes to Woodward Avenue and Hilton Road and recommends several new bike infrastructure projects, including new protected bike lanes on sections of Livernois Avenue, Allen Road, and 8 Mile Road in Ferndale; a bike-friendly zone on the city's east side between Martin Road and Wanda Street from Woodward Heights and 8 Mile Road; and a shared-use path along the CN Railroad. 

It also calls for a slew of traffic calming measures and sidewalk, bus stop, and crossing improvement, as well as an increase in bike parking, investment in bike-specific programming like bike rodeos for children and bike month activities, and a commitment to working towards a goal of zero traffic‐related deaths and serious injuries.

Community feedback

Clearly, there's a lot of new mobility projects happening and being considered for theSven Gustafson. Courtesy photo. future in Ferndale Right now. But in order for these sorts of projects to be a true success, they need to meet the needs of those who use them. So what do Ferndale residents stand on these new developments? 

Sven Gustafson, 50, is an avid runner who regularly uses his bike to get around town. He works in the healthcare communications field and lives with his family in a home near 8 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue.

Gustafson is a strong supporter of the city's new bike room, which reminds him of amenities he's heard about in countries like the Netherlands that have made safe and accessible biking infrastructure a big priority.

"I love the idea, especially for people who work in downtown Ferndale or visit regularly, and I will definitely consider a membership. I also love the symbolism of it being located inside a big structure that is devoted to parking motor vehicles," says Gustafson. "It's also another reminder of why I'm so glad the city didn't cave to those who wanted a no-frills single-use parking garage."

As someone who frequently rides his bike down West Marshall Street, Gustafson is also glad that the city decided to include some traffic calming measures in the resurfacing of the road there. 

And he likes the idea of bioswales on the street too, which he feels will help manage stormwater while beautifying the neighborhood. In regards to the Ferndale moves update, he believes adding bike lanes to the entire Ferndale stretch of 8 Mile Road is ambitious, but as a resident of the area, he heartily welcomes the idea. 

Bikeroom at The Dot. Courtesy City of Ferndale.

Christa Azar, 57, has lived in her home in northwest Ferndale for 27 years. An architect by trade, she is a big cycling enthusiast and loves to bike from Ferndale to the Detroit riverfront with her husband on weekends. 

Like Gustafson, she's very receptive to how the resurfacing of West Marshall Street is being handled.

"I love the improvements for many reasons, safety for cyclists and the more environmental handling of stormwater," she says. "So glad it is a comprehensive design."

Similarly, her reaction to the new Ferndale Moves plan is a positive one. 

"I appreciate the range of the plan and that it spans filling in sidewalk routes to tackling major corridors like Woodward and 8 Mile," she says. "I’d like to think the previous improvements are sensitizing people in vehicles to be aware of others and the plan will build on that. I think when peds/other mobility users feel safer it promotes use, then, in turn, provides more vehicle awareness."

Christa Azar. Courtesy photo.Azar used to avoid Livernois altogether before bike lanes were installed there. But now she frequently relies on the city's bike paths and is appreciative of how they separate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. In her opinion, the city's embrace of biking and walking infrastructure has had a real impact on the community. 

"I’m so happy when I see so many people outside in Ferndale. We really are known as a place where people walk, ride and get out. I think promoting mobility adds value for residents, and for them to see how they can reduce car trips."

As for Lyons, he's quite happy with Ferndale's new mobility developments and expects that it will continue to expand its focus on safe accessible streets over the coming years.

"We'll continue to evolve, and we'll add more options for people that maybe haven't used transit. or bike-share in the past," he says. "We're happy to partner with our neighboring communities, like Oak Park, who are doing great work on 9 Mile, and Detroit. And I think we'll continue to prioritize  safety for everyone on the streets."

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Read more articles by David Sands.