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Transforming underutilized space into bike paths.

Upgrading alleyways to accommodate cyclists, providing a safe and efficient space for those commuters.

Photo of Jordan Murphy
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My idea is to take a system that isn't living up to it's full potential and transform it. Biking is the fastest growing commute system in Grand Rapids. However, the city isn't acting fast enough to keep up with it. Rather than spend money implementing ideas that will be abandoned, such as bike-shares, we can recycle what the city already has!

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Citizens who use bicycles in the city would benefit greatly from this solution. Downtown is a horrible space for biking. The majority of the roads don't have bike lanes, and there are places where sidewalk riding is illegal. We have a 1:4 bike to road network milage, this statistic reflects the entirety of bicycle facilities located on and off road compared to the reported mileage of all roadways. As a city, Grand Rapids ranks Bronze on The American League of Bicyclists 'Bicycle Friendly Community' program. This solution is a system for all cyclists.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users
  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

I do not have an organization, but I hope that I can speak for a community of cyclists in Grand Rapids.

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Funding Request

  • $25,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

I think my idea works so well because I hope to use something that is already available to us. There will be no waste, this solution is completely sustainable. To complete my pilot, I will test out different solutions to combat the low visibility in the hours of dusk and dawn. My prototype offered string-lights to combat the harsh glow of street-lights and offer a comfortable and an aesthetically conscious atmosphere. I will also need to test out different systems of navigation throughout the alleyways-- colored stripes that one could glide along with in order to exit close to their intended destination. Flowerpots where there's space can also add some comfort and beauty to the systems. I would also want to test out the idea of having a common area in the alley. A bench so people can rest, complete with a water fountain which people can use to refill their bottles!

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

If bicyclist commuters express genuine interest in using the system after experiencing my pilot, I would consider that pretty successful. When it comes down to it, my main goal is to save the city from using extra funds to implement bike facilities when we can build on what's already here.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Angela Eick

To add on to this, it would be great to find local artists to add murals to some of these spaces. It's amazing how art can transform the vibe (and safety) of a space - have you ever visited an alley that became a destination because murals were added? I have been to a couple in Detroit and Milwaukee that I love.

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