Detroit Serious About Pedestrian, Bike Safety

(DETROIT, MI) – The City of Detroit is to begin the East Jefferson redesign to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The first phase, along a 5.4-mile stretch of East Jefferson, will begin this week and will redesign driving lanes and install new protected bike lanes and dedicated parking lanes.

Project Highlights

The road surface redesign will help improve safety for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians and will include new and improved pedestrian crosswalks along East Jefferson, connecting residents safely to the Riverfront. Key elements of the redesign include:

  • Converting the road from seven driving lanes to five lanes; two driving lanes in each direction and a dedicated left-turn lane. This will create shorter crossing distances for pedestrians and help to calm traffic along East Jefferson.
  • Installing clearer crosswalks to further improve pedestrian safety.
  • Adding protected bike lanes on both sides of East Jefferson. The bike lanes will occupy the curb lane.
  • To improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, a designated formal parking lane will be installed next to the bike lane, away from the curb, and with a buffer zone between it and the bike lane.


The project will begin this week and is expected to be complete by July 4. Work will be done in three individual phases to reduce the project’s impact on traffic.

The first section to be redesigned will be on the east end from Lakewood to St Jean streets. Once that is completed and fully reopened, Phase Two installation will occur from St Jean to Van Dyke, followed by Phase Three from Van Dyke to Rivard.

Public Education

Because the new design will bring together several new visual street elements, including red painted boxes on the pavement to identify bus stops and green sections where bikes and cars share the road, the city is undertaking a public education effort to help residents understand the changes before they are put in place.

This week, every household north and south of East Jefferson within the project limits will receive a printed brochure that explains each aspect of the redesign and provides tips for motorists and bicyclists on how to safely use the newly designed road.

Street signs will also be installed temporarily along the length of the project reminding motorist that the parking lane is now set farther out from the curb because of the addition of the bike lanes.

As well, the city has set up a web page which includes the same information, along with an email address where residents can submit feedback. The city will evaluate the project based on safety data, mobility data, and community feedback to determine any design changes that may be necessary.

“The safety of our streets starts by designing them for everyone who uses them,” said Department of Public Works Director Ron Brundidge. “Effective public education is another part of that strategy that reinforces safety when we bring new designs to our roads.”

east-jefferson redesign

Reasons For The Changes

East Jefferson, which carries more than 20,000 vehicles per day, saw 777 traffic crashes from 2012-2016. Six of those crashes were fatal, with three of them pedestrians. The Detroit Police Department regularly addresses issues of speeding and other traffic violations along this stretch of East Jefferson, which passes several schools and residential buildings for senior citizens.

The City of Detroit wants to ensure that everyone, whether they’re driving, walking, or riding their bike can safely get to their destination. The safety improvements and protected bike lanes along East Jefferson will help accomplish this goal by providing safe routes for cyclists while also improving experiences for pedestrians and improving traffic safety.

The protected bike lanes are being installed this summer ahead of a planned 2020 repaving of East Jefferson when the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will also replace outdated water and sewer lines. To avoid repetitive and wasteful repaving, the city will restripe East Jefferson this summer, waiting until 2020 to fully resurface the road.

Minor Impact On Vehicle Traffic

There may be a minor adjustment period during the construction period, but the conversion of East Jefferson’s lanes is not expected to significantly impact the overall flow of traffic, and will calm traffic along East Jefferson.

Street parking will be unavailable for a short period in each phase of construction. When construction is complete, drivers will have designated on-street parking spaces located on the traffic side of the protected bike lanes.

Drivers will park in areas marked by paint along bollards protecting the bike lanes.

Improved Safety For Bicyclists

Cyclists can expect safer bike lanes protected by bollards, painted buffers, and on-street parking following construction. During construction, bike lanes will have limited access in construction zones. Upon completion, cyclists will be able to ride protected from vehicular traffic and separated from opening car doors.

Shorter Pedestrian Crossing Distances

Pedestrians can expect limited impacts during the construction period, and great benefits following construction. New and improved pedestrian crosswalks will be installed along the entire stretch of East Jefferson, improving safety and walkability.

The conversion of lanes will also create shorter crossing distances using nationally recognized standards, and promoting connectivity from east side neighborhoods to the Riverfront, which millions of visitors enjoy each year.

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Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.