A basic life lesson eludes, or is ignored by, some drivers on East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. The truism goes like this: If it looks too good to be true, trust that instinct.
So if it seems as though East Jefferson Avenue suddenly has invitingly empty parking spots along every curb, look and think again.
The far right lanes in each direction aren’t marked with bright green paint as a “go here” signal for drivers — they’re four-week-old bike lanes. And those cute white plastic poles are another keep-out clue. So are signs that point to a parking lane alongside the poles, sitting between the bike lane and a traffic lane.
Alas, just as a few clueless folks still park on Woodward’s QLine tracks, the 5.4-mile cycling route is having a shaky shakeout on the east-side thoroughfare. Two readers last week shared photos of cars parked in the new path between Rivard Street near downtown and Lakewood Street near Grosse Pointe Park.
“Bike lanes are so awesome here in Detroit [that] people just park in them,” Anthony Biondo tweets sarcastically with the July 26 scene at right on Jefferson’s eastbound side between Joseph Campau and McDougall streets.
A day later, in a discussion thread at our Twitter page, we got this:
This is from a few weeks ago but it’s still just as baffling. pic.twitter.com/FYAELwQSZM
— Chris Bernard (@nmuchris) July 27, 2018
Baffling and potentially costly, starting Wednesday.
The city hasn’t ticketed violators during this getting-acquainted month. The grace period ends Aug. 1, when $45 tickets for improper parking will start being issued, according to Municipal Parking Director Keith Hutchings.
His enforcement agents have slipped flyers under violators’ windshield and asked merchants to advise employees and customers that the new lanes are just for two-wheelers.
Detroit’s Planning Department, which now is adding bike lanes on four miles of East Warren Avenue between St. Jean Street and Mack Avenue, sent “a detailed informational mailing to every residence in each Zip Code through which this stretch of Jefferson runs,” the city’s media relations director, John Roach, tells Deadline Detroit.
‘We did a press release and round of media to educate the public at the beginning of the project. There was a lot of direct community engagement,” he adds via email. “We also have a web page for this project and have and extra amount of signage that was installed along the project to indicate which lane is for bikes and which is for parking.”
An urban cyclist in Southwest Detroiter reinforces that point:
jefferson is the only place i feel like they have done a good job rolling this out – they actually used signs pic.twitter.com/iJaFflniGj
— patrick crouch (@dirtysabot) July 27, 2018
Other reactions to claims of inadequate signage or public education are less polite.
Bike lanes “are really not that hard to figure out if you can extrapolate on the concept that a solid line means ‘don’t cross,” tweets Elizabeth King, a Metro Detroit planner at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.