‘Training Wheels’ Volunteer reports on biking program

FLINT TWP. — When the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) “Training Wheels” course rolled into Grand Blanc in July, township resident Reuben Arceo grabbed his helmet and took it for a spin.

“Training Wheels,’’ courses are being scheduled around the state to educate community planners about how to provide safe bicycling facilities for residents and visitors.

A biking enthusiast since last spring, Arceo volunteered his services to Township Supervisor Karyn Miller to attend the meeting on behalf of Flint Township. He reported back to the full township board last month.

The “Training Wheels’ course included four hours of classroom instruction at the Grand Blanc police station followed by a police-escorted on-the-road bike ride. Arceo said their harrowing ride took them down Dort Highway, south to HIll Road and along Hill to Saginaw Street.

“After we got done, everyone was shaking like mad,’’ he said. “ We said why did you take us that way?”

It was done to stress the dangers of bike paths placed in high-traffic areas. They were told that some 13,000 vehicles travel through that area in half a day.

“Training Wheels” courses are intended to educate city, township and county managers; council members; engineers and others involved in planning community biking facilities. Arceo said his seminar was taught by two young men who started the program in Chicago and are now teaching it nationwide.

“They teach you what to do and what not to do,’’ he said. He learned about bike path widths, riding with the flow of traffic, obeying traffic laws and even what to wear.

Arceo displayed two bright neon T-shirts he wears while biking and cautioned bikers with young children to be sure to wear bright clothing.He also advocated wearing a helmet.

Arceo said he met some people at the seminar from the county Road Commission and discussed with them how to sign up for grants to provide more biking trails in Flint Township. He told Miller he would volunteer his time to help set it up.

Miller added that the county is now working on updating its regional plan and there are discussions about Swartz Creek adding bike paths from Elms Road Park to connect with the bike trails in Flint Township. Township park paths are now connected to the Genesee Valley Trail which extends almost to the Flint City limits. The City of Flint also is hoping to add a trail from downtown Flint to connect with the Genesee Valley Trail paths, she said.

Another proposed trail corridor is along the Flint River connecting Flint Township and Flushing.

A draft of the 2014 Genesee County Regional Non-Motorized Plan is posted online at www.gc4me.com/departments/ planning_ commission/transportation/ docs/2014_ Genesee_ County_ Regional_ Non_ Motorized_ Plan.pdf

It outlines plans for creating a network of interconnected non-motorized trails in Genesee County. There are 81 miles of existing bike trails in Genesee County but they are not connected, according to the plan summary. It includes a map and description of existing trails and a prioritized 20-year plan for connecting them and adding more.

The plan states a “critical need” for paths along Miller Road in Flint Township.

“With Miller Road being the highest concentration of commercial development in Genesee County, it is the source of a large amount of destinations for county residents,” the plan notes.” This entire corridor is lacking any type of travel method for non-motorized travelers, creating a serious safety hazard. The bus route along Miller Road is heavily used, yet there are no sidewalks to get to a bus stop or from a bus stop to a destination.”

Another stated goal of the countywide trail plan is to provide an alternative means of transportation for commuters, students and others who prefer non-motorized travel.

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