GREEN Task Force – Vision of Greenways for Detroit’s Lower East Side

The GREEN Task Force, a coalition of Detroit-based non-profit groups, presents to you a vision and a realistic plan for creating a network of greenways on Detroit’s greater riverfront east. Just as greenways serve many functions – from recreational venues to economic linkages between neighborhoods – this report also aims at many goals. This plan serves as a catalyst for:

  • Economic development

  • A tool for bringing communities together

  • A way of defining a new future for Detroit’s greater riverfront east

Based on more than a year of fact-finding and visioning, this outline for future greenways emerged from a well-founded process that listened to multiple stakeholders across a broad spectrum of Detroit; that is rooted in a systematic analysis of data, particularly the unique characteristics of the area; that has been benchmarked to successful national precedents for walkable urban communities; and that was developed with the assistance of a respected national design firm based in southeast Michigan.

We believe this report paints a picture of greenways that will belong not to the privileged few but to everyone in this great diverse city. To that end, our effort has provided not only a framework for understanding and moving forward with physical improvements, but a vision of hope. This hope lies in a framework to support sustainable neighborhoods: urban places that bring people together, that encourage healthy lifestyles, that are catalysts for community and economic development, and that foster environmental stewardship.

This is our vision. This is our hope. This is our act of faith in us and our city.  Click on link below to download PDF file of complete report:

Detroit Greenways Vision – FINAL – 2012-02-23_LowRez



What is a greenway?

A greenway is a path reserved for strollers, joggers, bicyclists, dog-walkers, rollerbladers, and anyone else getting from here to there without the use of a motorized vehicle. Greenways are typically located off the street, sometimes resembling extra-wide sidewalks, and hence provide a safe environment for walking and biking.  In an urban environment, a greenway may also include on-street bike lanes and cross-walks. Dedicated greenways often run for miles, connecting neighborhoods, providing healthy and safe venues for exercise, and tying together the many parts of a city and region.

greenways1In Detroit, enthusiasm and support for greenways has grown exponentially in recent years. Within the past decade alone, several major greenways have been built or at least begun, including the RiverWalk, Dequindre Cut and Trail, Conner Creek Greenway, Lyndon Avenue Greenway, and the Midtown Loop, which broke ground in the spring of 2010.  Many more greenways are in various planning stages at this time.

Recognizing the benefits of greenways, the City of Detroit recently developed a Non-Motorized Transportation Master Plan that was adopted by City Council in 2008.*  This document envisions a time when any decisions about transportation infrastructure will include options for getting around without the use of cars. When fully realized one day, the Non-Motorized Transportation Master Plan will have helped Detroit to integrate its network of greenways into the life of its citizens, both those with their own vehicles and those without.

The benefits of greenways


Greenways create important social benefits that go beyond providing alternative transportation options. Greenways make good gathering places for neighbors, and they offer seniors and those of limited mobility a place to enjoy the outdoors. Greenways can ease tensions in society by forging safe, convenient links between diverse communities, setting up a new and shared common ground. And by encouraging an active lifestyle that includes bicycling and walking, greenways can reduce the incidence of obesity and other ailments.


By creating a valuable public amenity, greenways can foster higher property values. That in turn creates incentives for new businesses to locate along a well-traveled greenway route, creating both direct and spin-off jobs and tax base. Greenways also provide a venue for special events such as parades, fireworks, and fun races, all of which brings in new dollars to a greenway community.


By allowing us to take many of our shorter trips by bicycle or walking, greenways can reduce driving and congestion, which lowers the amount of pollution from motor vehicles. Cleaner air means a healthier community.  And greenways reclaim land from concrete and sprawl, creating a more natural landscape that reduces the stress on our natural ecology and riverfront, fostering a more sustainable community.

About the Greater East Riverfront Greenways Planning Project


To create a vision for a network of greenways to connect the diverse neighborhoods of the greater east riverfront both to each other and to the city’s magnificent asset, the Detroit River, thereby forging stronger bonds throughout the community.


To create a detailed Master Plan for linking together existing and future greenways in the project area bound by St Aubin (W), Alter Rd (E), Detroit River (S), and Mack (N), with recommendations on how to build and fund future development of this network.


The planning process is being conducted by the Greater Riverfront East Environmental Network (GREEN) Task Force, a coalition of non-profit organizations and greenways stakeholders working to further the planning and development of greenways on Detroit’s greater east riverfront.  Coalition members include Creekside Community Development Corporation, Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Detroit Greenways Coalition, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Gleaners Community Food Bank, Jefferson East Business Association, Mt Elliott Business and Community Association, West Village Association, and various local residents.  The GREEN Task Force is facilitated by The Villages Community Development Corporation.

The professional consulting team of JJR/Greenway Collaborative/Active Transportation Alliance is creating the Master Plan in collaboration with the GREEN Task Force.

Funding for the project has been generously provided by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

The images in this brochure are courtesy of JJR/Greenway Collaborative.