Friday, May 10, 2013

Restricting Cars in Rouge Park

Road in Rouge Park - Photo by Frank Nemecek

The master plan presentations for the future of Rouge Park were earlier this week. One of the many ideas that are currently on the table to is to limit the access of automobiles into the largest park in Detroit. There is even talk of banning them from the area outright.

I could dwell on the irony of a place like the Motor City banning cars from the park. However, there are lots of different reasons why some residents and other stakeholders in Rouge Park would like to see less automobile traffic in the area.

The presentations on Wednesdays spent a fair amount of time discussing this idea. There was even more documentation in the reports themselves. Here is a quick summary of the rationale behind limiting automotive access to Rouge Park.
  • We've seen lots of speeding through that area. The posted speed limit in the area is 25 m.p.h., but drivers routinely travel through Rouge Park at 40 m.p.h. or faster. The Detroit Police Department has been rather ineffective at enforcing speed limits in the area.
  • The infamous cars "parked" along the side of road throughout Rouge Park. This includes people who park their cars along the side of the road while engaging in a variety of illicit activity, none of which is conducive to kind of parkland that residents want in their neighborhood. Again, the Detroit Police Department has been rather ineffective in 
  • Plus, it's hard to do much illegal dumping in Rouge Park area if you can't take your car through it (at least not the large-scale dumping of construction debris that we see so much of there).
The solution recently proposed is to take all of the roads in the Rouge Park to only one lane in each direction and to limit the areas where one can legally park. If/when they identify enough funding to operate a shuttle service in the area, they might also pursue an outright ban on cars in the park.

If that happens, there will be a few park and ride lots near the park entrances and a shuttle will take people where they want to go. Walking, bicycling, and so on would not be effected by this proposal at all.

Since the picnic areas are mostly near the various park entrances, which is where the park and ride lots would also be, this wouldn't be much of a change for people carrying coolers and such. They would simply go from carrying coolers from the side of the road to the picnic area to carrying from the lot to the picnic area; a difference of a few yards.

The park users who would be effected by this the most are those activities that more along the interior of the park. This includes things like the archery range, the mountain bike trail, tallgrass prairie visitors, and so on.

Limiting the number of lanes and instituting certain "no parking" areas seems like a good idea in my opinion. It'll be interesting to see if the outright ban on cars ever materializes.
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