Wayne State University wants people to start thinking differently about a busy thoroughfare called Warren Avenue which runs through its Detroit campus. So later this month, it's sponsoring a three-day event, Walkable Warren, which will use flexible streetscape designs to temporarily transform the corridor into an environment that's safer and more friendly for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Coinciding with the week of the annual Detroit Design Festival, the three-day happening will take place Sept. 22-24 and is intended to give people a glimpse of what might be possible on a two-block stretch of Warren between and Woodward and Second Avenues. The event will combine temporary streetscape alterations with a variety of activities to draw people in and get them excited about the project. Organizers also hope to encourage retail activity in the area.
Jeri Stroupe a Senior Project Administrator with Wayne State's Office of Economic Development tells Mode Shift Walkable Warren was inspired by two related efforts: a federally funded City of Detroit plan to make safety improvements along a five-mile stretch of Warren and the Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation's Walking in Woodbridge initiative which seeks to improve non-motorized connectivity and the pedestrian experience in a Detroit neighborhood that borders Wayne State's campus.
"We wanted to see how Wayne State could be most helpful," says Stroupe. "Both... getting people talking to each other and also potentially testing out some of the ideas and alternatives that the city is exploring and would also be considering as part of the Walking in Woodbridge plan."
Prototypes and ideas inspired by the project will also be used to help shape Wayne State's next master plan.
Walkable Warren's featured street improvements will include bike lanes with barriers to separate cyclists from parked vehicles, shortened crosswalks and pedestrian bump outs, which are physical extensions of the curb into the street. All roadway enhancements will be non-permanent in nature.
In addition to the altered streetscape, each day will also have its own themed event. On Thursday WSU will be hosting a food truck rally in the courtyard next to the university bookstore from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. That will be followed up Friday with the placement of bistro-style patio seating at various locations around the project footprint. Finally, a small park at Woodward and Warren be transformed on Saturday into an open air market which will host both food and retail vendors.
Walkable Warren is far from the only project of this type WSU has been involved with in recent years. The university has also been a significant investor in the Midtown Loop greenway as well as spearheading a feasibility study for a Detroit bike share program that should be operational next year.
Take Action: Individuals or organizations interested in volunteering with the Walkable Warren initiative can contact the university here.