Lansing Updates its Master Plan

The City of Lansing is updating its non-motorized plan. Please attend if you can:

November 15th @ 6:30pm
Allen Neighborhood Center
1611 E Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48912

November 29th @ 6:30pm
South Lansing Community Development Association
800 W Barnes Ave, Lansing, Michigan 48910

Work on Michigan is Starting

It looks like the repairs have started on Michigan Avenue. A paving crew was out this morning patching a section of the turn lane just west of Clemens. As CATA's BRT plans continue to spark fierce debate, the city of Lansing has started to fix the worst of the sections on Michigan and will be repaving all of Michigan Avenue between 127 and Pennsylvania between now and October 30.

County Millage Money is Coming In

Dollars from the County Trail Millage are starting to be spent in the City of Lansing. The first project to be done is shown above: the River Trail within Hawk Island Park was resurfaced and widened. This is only the first of many projects within the city. Scheduled projects include:

1. Bridge repair at Lansing Center and Oakland Avenue
2. Replacement of metal steps leading down to the River Trail off of Michigan Avenue
3. Larger parking areas at Maguire and David Parks
4. Pavement repairs on 10 miles (out of 16 total trail miles)
5. New bridge between Potter Park and Aurelius Road (reducing flood closures)
6. Repair of trail near Moores River Drive and Elm Street
7. Bridge repair near Moores River Park

Within the county, most of the money is being spent on bridge repair during the first round of funding. These projects were given high priority for safety concerns (I however have never felt unsafe crossing a bridge on the trail system). It is unfortunate that so much money from a millage to create new trails is being spent on deferred maintenance project.

The next round of funding should include trail extension projects to better connect all the trails together. The tagline for the millage is: "Connecting communities for a better tomorrow!" Maybe it should be, "Fixing yesterday's problems with tomorrow's money!"

Buying a Great Bike in Lansing

While these riders at the Capital City Cycling Classic Criterium on Saturday likely spent thousand of dollars on their bikes, you don't have to spend nearly as much to find a great bike to ride in Lansing. On the other hand, I have had a few friends recently ask me where they can buy a great bike for $100. My response is to them is Craigslist, but using Craigslist requires being knowledgeable about bikes to find a good deal. My wife and I currently own eight bikes. The road bikes were bought from bike shops. The two mountain bikes were hand-me-downs from a friend who was upgrading his mountain bike fleet. Another bike was bought for $120 on Craiglist and is my daily commuter. Another was bought from Share-a-bike in East Lansing and another from Kid's Bike Repair in Lansing for $20 (this will eventually be a bike polo bike and required a lot of work). The last is my wife's father's bike from college. The road bikes were purchased when we knew little about maintaining and repairing bikes and also didn't have many connections in the local bike community. However, as we've learned more about bikes, we've tended to stick to the used market to find good deals on solid bikes.

Department Stores

Please don't buy a bike at a department store. There are higher quality bikes available for similar prices elsewhere. Many people will head to a department store (Walmart, Target, Meijer) to buy their first bike. These stores indeed have bikes to buy that are relatively inexpensive ($100-$300) but are of questionable quality. These bikes are typically referred to as Bike Shaped Objects. They are typically assembled without care and their non-standard parts can lead to maintenance issues down the road.

Bike Shops

If you don't know much about bikes, I suggest first visiting a bike shop. There are many in the local area staffed by knowledgeable and friendly people. When you walk in, they will ask what type of riding you'll be doing, and how much you're looking to spend. They will be able to tell you what size of bike you'll need and sizing is very important when it comes to riding a bike. A poorly sized bike will not be comfortable and you will not want to spend much time on it. The cost of adult bikes at a bike shop will range from $300 to more than $5,000. Most bikes purchased at a local shop will also come with free tune-ups for as long as you own the bike. The local shops in alphabetical order: American Cycle and Fitness, Denny's Central Park Bicycles, Evergreen Cycles and Repair, MSU Bikes, Riverfront Cycles, Spin Cycles, and Velocipede Peddler.

Kid's Bike Repair, Lansing Bicycle Co-op, and Share-a-Bike

These three groups have different missions, but all include repairing donated bikes and selling them to help fund their operating costs. There groups are full of volunteers who take used bikes (some with more than few issues) and use their expertise and supply of parts to bring these bikes back to riding shape. Kid's Bike Repair has the largest facility on the south side of Lansing. Expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a bike. The price might be the same as a brand new department store bike, but most of the available bikes are are superior quality and have been assembled and tuned by folks who enjoy bicycling and want others to share in the fun. These groups are a great place to make connections in the local bicycle community. The Lansing Bike Co-op has open shop on Wednesday evenings where you can bring your bike in and learn to fix it with the help of the volunteers.


Craigslist is the holy grail of the used bike market, but I would suggest avoiding it if you are new to bicycling. The Lansing bicycle section has healthy supply of new ads posted daily of bikes ranging in price from $10 to thousands of dollars for a used high-end road or mountain bike. There is a lot of variability in the quality as well and you should know what you're looking for when you go to take a bike for a spin. Try to bring someone along who knows what to look for (or post a link below and we can offer some pointers).

So where can you buy a bike for $100? Your best bet is Craigslist, but you'll need to know what you're looking for. You won't be able to buy a brand new, high-quality bike for $100 or even $200. You'll likely end up spending a bit more if you head to a bike shop but you'll get a well-fitted and tuned bike. If you spend $800 on a great bike, the healthy used market might allow you to sell it for $600 a few years from now if you end up upgrading or finding a new mode of transportation or hobby.

2015 Lansing Crash Statistics

Forty-nine crashes were reported in the city of Lansing that involved a bicyclist in 2015. The Lansing Police Department submits a UD-10 report for each crash which is then publicly available from the Michigan Traffic Crash Facts. Each report contains information about the location of the crash, the vehicles involved, their behavior prior to the crash, and a brief description and diagram of the crash.

Almost half of all crashes involved a bicyclist on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk. The bicyclist involved where usually travelling straight or crossing through an intersection when they were hit and the motorists where either travelling straight or turning right or left when hit. The most common hazardous action taken by either party was failing to yield and only four citations were issued even though most of the crashes involved one vehicle acting hazardously.

Some more details about the crash data:

  • 49% occurred while the bicyclist was travelling on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk
  • 37% occurred while the bicyclist was safely travelling straight ahead with the motor vehicle acting hazardously
  • 29% were hit-and-runs (three bicyclists leaving, eleven motorists leaving)
  • 12% involved minors
  • 37% noted bicyclists injuries
  • 0 fatalities

The reports indicates the behavior of each vehicle prior to the crash (going straight, turning left or right, leaving driveway, etc.) and also any hazardous actions performed by the driver (none, moving too fast, unable to stop, failure to yield, unknown, etc.). Below is the breakdown of the hazardous actions taken by vehicle type:

The most common hazardous action was 'Failure to Yield', which occurred in half of all crashes. Motor vehicles acted this way more often than bicyclists. The next most common action besides 'Unknown' and 'Other' was 'Speed too fast' which was cited to two bicyclists while on the sidewalk. In many of the crashes that involved a bicyclist on the sidewalk or crosswalk, the driver was not always listed as 'Failure to Yield' even though Michigan Vehicle Code states that motorists should yield to those in crosswalks. Below is the breakdown of the vehicle action before the crash by vehicle type:

The majority of bicycles were travelling straight ahead or crossing through an intersection. The majority of motor vehicles were travelling straight ahead, turning right, or turning left. These trends align with state-wide trends and are consistent with how most bicyclists are struck: at intersections or when a motor vehicle turns in front of them.

In forty-one of the forty-nine crashes hazardous actions where noted which leads to the interpretation that one party was at fault. However, only four citations were issued: three to motorists for failure to yield and one to a bicyclist for failure to cross a street at a crosswalk. Why does everyone else get off the hook?

The crash report includes a section for the officer present to include notes and witness statements that may shed some light on the lack of citations. Many of the motorists 'didn't see' the bicyclist, or the bicycle 'came out of nowhere'. There is even note of how one bicyclist wasn't wearing any reflective clothing (without mention of the motorist's attire).

In my experience, most of the times where I have almost been hit, the driver told me they didn't see me. I always ask them to be more aware of their surroundings, or to get their eyes checked depending on the incident. It appears from the crash reports that this is very common and the police officers identify with this and don't issue citations accordingly. It isn't the bicyclists' responsibility to be seen (except at night when lights are required). I do everything in my power to be seen while biking but am still told by drivers that they didn't see me. All road users need to be aware of all other road users. The roads are a public resource that we are all using.

Want to stay safe on your bike in Lansing? Follow these tips:

  • Ride in the road, not the sidewalk
  • Ride with traffic, not against
  • Always ride with front and back lights
  • Assume every motorist does not see you and ride defensively

Interested in learning more, check out these links:

Lansing query from Michigan Traffic Crash Facts

Common bicycle crash scenarios

Lansing Bike and Seek 2016

Photo credit: Lansing Bicycle Press

The first annual Lansing Bike and Seek sent bikers all over the city in search of ten clues and some great prizes. The event kicked off at Hunter Park where about seventy adventurous bicyclists divided into twenty-five teams and prepared to race around the city.

Photo credit: Tim Potter

The first team to arrive at the finish at Midtown Brewery Company was Dean, Devon, and Katie who finished in under two hours after biking the entire fifteen mile route. They received a 1st place plaque, bike lights, and beer glasses donated by the TCBA and Happy Day Decals.

Photo credit: Tim Potter

The clue locations included Moores River Park, Frances Park, the State Capitol grounds, the Brenke fish ladder, the Turner-Dodge house, Willow Elementary, and the Vietnam Memorial. The route from Julie and Nathan shows a slightly longer than ideal solution to the scavenger hunt.

Based on all the positive feedback, the organizers are already starting to plan next year's hunt. Follow the Lansing Bike and Seek Facebook page for notifications.

Complete Streets Lansing

Photo credit: Complete Streets on Flickr

In 2011, Lansing enacted an ordinance known as, 'Complete Streets'. The goal of the law is to encourage the city to build transportation infrastructure that accommodates bicyclists, pedestrians, public transportation passengers, and users of all ages and abilities.

The Complete Streets movement stems from the idea that transportation systems should cater to all road users. The last fifty years have seen the prioritization of motor vehicle traffic to the detriment of pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users. Consider this image:

Photo credit: Lansing Bicycle Press

This is Cedar Street at Holmes. Four lanes of fast-moving traffic in wide lanes, no curb island in the center for refuge, and the cross walks can be a quarter mile away. The trees have been cleared from intersections to increase sight lines and speed at the cost of beauty. It is basically a highway through the city. Contrast the first image with this:

Photo credit: Smart Growth America

This is Hamburg, New York. This road probably once had four travel lanes for cars but has been redesigned using Complete Street design principles.

  • Only two travel lanes: no lane changing or passing
  • Narrow lanes slow traffic down
  • The curb jogs out at intersections to provide pedestrians more safe area from traffic
  • Bike lanes are wide and distinguished using a colored surface treatment
  • Trees (albeit many small ones) line the street

This street invites you to stop and take a stroll, or to live nearby. Not so much for streets like Cedar. Many cities throughout the country and across the world have embraced the Complete Streets movement. 'Vital Streets' in the Grand Rapids version that incorporates the economic advantages of building and maintaining a transportation system for all users. Many cities across the country that have seen population increases recently have acted to implement Complete Street concepts throughout their city (Grand Rapids is a great Michigan example).

The Lansing law targets that five percent of all transportation funding from the state should be used to implement the Non-motorized plan that the law requires the city to develop. Any future construction or re-construction of a right-of-way must follow the guidelines in the Non-motorized plan, given financial constraints. The city will be updating the Non-motorized plan this year in accordance with the law and is looking for citizen input.

We will be organizing events to discuss the plan update and how bicyclists can help. Stay tuned for details.

Interested in learning more, check out these links:

Lansing Complete Streets ordinance

Lansing Master Plan page

National Complete Streets Coalition

Lansing Bike Party

The Lansing Bike Party is a party on wheels! Every Friday they go on a casual urban group ride of 10-15 miles, looking for adventures around town!

Kids Repair Program

The mission of the Kids Repair Program is to provide positive experiences and educational opportunities in bicycle safety, repair, and maintenance for youth in the Lansing and Tri-County area.

Lansing Bike Co-op

The Lansing Bike Co-op empowers our community through bicycle education and access. We provide a welcoming space for taking transportation into our own hands.

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