Newport & M-14

Stopped. Watched. icon

One pothole too many. Hugging the shoulder to let a car pass, must have hit an asphalt chunk. X-rays show nothing broken. But that’s not how it feels. Bike came through better than I did, but the helmet is toast. [photo] Please fix the roads. [See update on May 31, 2014]

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  1. By Dan Ezekiel
    May 22, 2014 at 6:41 pm | permalink

    Really sorry to hear about this, John. Feel better soon.

  2. By Tom Brandt
    May 22, 2014 at 6:47 pm | permalink

    Yikes, John. I’m glad it wasn’t more serious. Get better.

  3. May 22, 2014 at 9:13 pm | permalink

    You should see Pontiac Trail. They came last week and dug out the 3-5″ deep top coat encompassing the main sections of potholes, then left it – no traffic cones, nothing. A 5″ deep drop off right next to the bike lane, with cars are swerving into the oncoming traffic, have been running up on the curbs to avoid the unmarked roadwork. The constant rattle of trailers, squeal of bus brakes.

    Incompetent, incomplete and a danger to the citizenry – that is the state of our road repairs. Whoever is in charge of these surfacing projects should be let go immediately. No help from our city council reps, either – but they are doing that critical resurfacing job at the Northside Grill parking lot – thanks for nothing.

  4. May 22, 2014 at 10:01 pm | permalink

    Oh gosh, I’m so sorry! Feel better!

  5. By abc
    May 22, 2014 at 10:56 pm | permalink

    Wow John, that certainly puts ‘stopped’ in a new light. I am so sorry. It may mean something else for ‘watched’ too but who cares. Please feel better. Arnica?

  6. By John Floyd
    May 22, 2014 at 11:05 pm | permalink

    I appreciate all the words of encouragement. I’m as big a sympathy hound as the next guy. My purpose here was to personalize the dismal state of our roads from the perspective of bike riders. Much noise is made about non-motorized transit, and being a bike-friendly town. This is the talk of “a noisy gong or a clashing symbol” {1st Corinthians 13:1}. Fix the roads, and Ann Arbor will be less of a Gong Show.

    Sounds like Mr. Haynor has a rendezvous with some disputed bike lane in his future. Any mayoral candidates want to address this? Or don’t Millennials ride bikes?

  7. By John Floyd
    May 22, 2014 at 11:06 pm | permalink

    @ 5 a friend dropped some off tonight, and I’m about to indulge!

  8. By Dave Fanslow
    May 23, 2014 at 8:58 am | permalink

    Wow that sucks. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen for bikes this year. Not IF but WHEN you hit rough stuff remember to keep a firm grip, and relaxed but spring-like tension through your arms and shoulders to act as shock absorbers. Dont try to turn out of it, and keep pedaling (speed = rotational inertia = stability).

    With regard to city staff, certain positions like the Transportation Coordinator should be required to live in the City Limits, not “Faraway Hills”, and to regularly experience first hand what the taxpaying residents deal with every day. Nothing like bouncing your big noggin off the busted up road or off the side of a SUV to really understand the issue.

  9. May 23, 2014 at 8:59 am | permalink

    I miss my bike but I don’t have the courage to ride one on Ann Arbor’s streets. Somewhere else there was a comment about the point that we have so few non-street paths that bikes can use. (And pedestrians, too.) One of the great benefits of bike riding ought to be the ability to cut across long blocks, etc. where cars can’t go. There was an issue some months ago about how to handle sidewalks that are not in the right of way. As I recall, the stumbling block was that adjacent property owners didn’t want the responsibility of maintenance, especially during snow.

    It does seem odd that despite all the talk about our being a bike-friendly city, there is not a comprehensive, unified approach to planning,installation and maintenance of non-road paths. Painted stripes on too-narrow roads just don’t do it.

  10. By John Floyd
    May 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm | permalink

    @5 also like your take on the word “Stopped”.

    @7 wish you’d told me this BEFORE I hit the pavement… good point about the Transportation Coordinator

    @8 I’ve not been brave enough to try the bike lanes on middle-of-town streets for exactly that reason: they just don’t look safe.

  11. By Rod Johnson
    May 23, 2014 at 11:01 pm | permalink

    I really want someone to explain that Northside Grill parking lot thing.

  12. May 24, 2014 at 9:37 am | permalink

    Re: #11 The City owns the alley by the Northside. I know Jim Koli (owner of the Northside Grill) has complained regularly about the lack of maintenance by the City. He told me that he met with the City Administrator and showed him the problems. At some point after that meeting, the resurfacing of the alley was included on the annual street resurfacing plan.
    The City does routinely resurface alleys. We just aren’t a city with a lot of alleys. Most are in the downtown; few are in residential areas.
    I regret that Mr. Floyd fell – and regret even more that bike lanes are often treated as afterthoughts when we evaluate the quality of street surfaces. Good news – although not perfect news – is that both Newport and Pontiac Trail will be torn up this year and rebuilt. Pontiac Trail will have dedicated bike lanes, more sidewalk, and new storm water (and water main) systems intalled. Newport will be resurfaced, with bike lanes and a new sidewalk.
    Before those projects are finished, though, at best there will be inconvenience. Please be cautious.
    And I’ve privately wished a quick recovery to Mr. Floyd. I benefit from hearing his voice.

  13. By Lyn Davidge
    May 24, 2014 at 12:26 pm | permalink

    Sabra, I had missed the part about Newport being worked on this year. Thought it was next year. Is this the part in the city or the township, or both? Do you happen to have dates or a timeline? John, heal fast!

  14. May 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm | permalink

    #13: Dear Lyn,
    The City defines the Newport Road resurfacing project as work within the City. The City’s website states that Newport (from Sunset to south of Bird Road) will be resurfaced. This project includes sidewalk construction from Sunset to Riverwood. Generally, resurfacing includes removing and replacing drainage inlets and utility structures (manholes) and repaving the roadway. In some areas, curbs need to be repaired or replaced (I don’t recall curbs on Newport, but I can be wrong) and repairing or replacing sidewalk ramps (and there may be some of these along Newport).
    A significant stretch of Newport was reconstructed a few years ago, extending water mains and sanitary sewers in the area.

    The construction schedule for Newport is not yet final. A public hearing on the special assessment district for new sidewalks was held and closed on Monday, May 19. We should all hear about when construction will start fairly quickly now. But given the delays on construction this spring, my only goal is that the sidewalk be complete before school opens in the fall.

  15. By Lyn Davidge
    May 24, 2014 at 8:35 pm | permalink

    @14 Dear Sabra,
    Many thanks for the clarification. It may be that the township stretch of Newport (roughly Steiner School to Maple) is scheduled for next year, and perhaps I was thinking of that. I’ll double-check, and maybe take myself out to the Road Commission for a chat if it’s not coming up soon. It is the pits! Dangerous for all between the bad road bed, faded lane markings, and very deceptive little dips that take oncoming cars out of sight. Not sure just where John’s mishap was, but all should beware of Newport outside the city limits.

  16. By Rod Johnson
    May 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm | permalink

    Thanks for the info on Northside Grill Alley, Sabra.

  17. By DrData
    May 25, 2014 at 5:21 pm | permalink

    Re Vivienne’s comment:

    …One of the great benefits of bike riding ought to be the ability to cut across long blocks, etc. where cars can’t go…

    Berkeley, a city Ann Arbor often aspires to, has such a thing [link]. The streets usually parallel a major street but have a barrier preventing cars from using them as a through street every 4-5 blocks – like the Forest/Hill intersection.

  18. May 25, 2014 at 6:28 pm | permalink

    The archetypal example is Davis, CA, where there are scenic bike paths, commuting bike paths, tunnels, overpasses, etc. designed for bikes. There are greenways between neighborhood clusters where bicycles can travel across the cul-de-sacs. They have a map showing bike routes that includes travel times.

    The June edition of the Ann Arbor Observer has a letter from a woman who lives on Miller (recently resurfaced with painted-on bike lanes). She complains that cars park on the bike lanes and in winter it was covered up by snow. And of course, there are the trash containers. So even when we do address bicycle travel in new road construction, there is a lot to be desired. I admire the intrepid Ann Arbor bicyclists who suffer through all these obstacles.

  19. By DrData
    May 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm | permalink

    I agree that Davis is better than Berkeley. Some European cities also do this – separating bikers from cars by more than a line of paint (or a colored bike lane a la San Francisco).

    I was surprised to see so many bikers without helmets in many European cities, but if they are separated from cars by a different path or a barrier, then the only thing to worry about is potholes (to bring this full circle to the original post).

  20. By John Floyd
    May 26, 2014 at 12:57 am | permalink

    Closing the circle-

    I am much improved, thank you all for your good wishes. Must be the arnica. I fell in front of the Newport entrance to Bird Hill (in the area to be re-surfaced) but as Lynn noted, the lower portion of Newport is much worse than my accident site. The re-built Newport stretch Sabra mentioned does have curbs, but not an inch of shoulder, let alone bike lanes. Apparently the coming resurfacing will increase the paved width of that stretch of Newport.

    I hope other mayoral candidates will also discuss re-surfacing, in one public forum or another. It’s not as glamerous as art, but it is where the rubber hits the road.

  21. May 26, 2014 at 7:57 am | permalink

    So glad you are feeling better, John. Your story illustrates that the condition of our local roads does not affect only automobile users, but other forms of transportation as well.

    Attempts by our city council and mayoral candidates to address the problem of our road conditions will be hampered by the complexity of road funding, which is broken in Michigan and troubled nationwide. The State Senate takes it up again next week. This is not (only) a local problem and the sums needed to do a completely satisfactory job are too large for our limited local taxing ability. (We already levy a road tax on ourselves in Ann Arbor.) The current method of funding most road work (the gas tax, highway trust fund)has been inadequate for the job for the greater part of the last decade. As reported by the Chronicle, Washtenaw County has also been struggling to find a new funding mechanism for roads. (I’ve been trying to keep up with all this in my blog.)

    I guess that what our elected council members and candidates could offer would be a look at the operations side of our local transportation planning and to ask how these projects are executed. There are some fine points that could be debated locally.

    I believe that part of our problem is the pressure to become more of a regional center. We are bringing a lot of people in cars into the city every day. They really are causing wear and tear on the roads. Newport is an example of a heavily used exit road.

  22. By Dan Ezekiel
    May 26, 2014 at 9:21 am | permalink

    Re: Vivienne’s astute comment (#21) above: the entire comment could also apply to how we fund public schools.