Houghton earns designation from national bike group

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Josh Myles of Houghton's Bike and Pedestrian Committee talks to the Houghton City Council Wednesday. The League of American Bicyclists again named Houghton a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community.

HOUGHTON — For the second time, Houghton was named a silver-level Bicycle-Friendly Community.

The designation came courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists, which announced the status Wednesday of 65 new and renewing communities.

Houghton is one of 11 cities in Michigan and 400 nationwide to earn the status. There are five rankings to the program — diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

Houghton first earned a bronze level in 2010. It reached silver in 2013, which it maintained after reapplying last summer.

“This achievement reflects the accomplishments and progress we’ve made over the last few years,” especially with the more rigorous standards for the latest round, said Josh Myles of Houghton’s Bike and Pedestrian Committee.

In a release explaining the ranking, the league cited Houghton’s pro-bicycling policies and investment in bicycling promotion, education programs and infrastructure.

One of the biggest upgrades in bike-ability is the Houghton Avenue bicycle boulevard. The number of stop signs along the 1.7-mile route were reduced from 18 stops to seven.

Shared lane pavement markings demarcated space for drivers. Wayfinding signs were deployed for aid in getting around and for directing riders to the rest of the route.

“It’s an ongoing project,” Myles said. “We’ve already been talking about plans for adding traffic-calming features in the spring.”

Non-motorized chair use connecters were also added on MacInnes Drive and at the west end of Houghton Avenue.

“There were gaps in our non-motorized network we were able to close, and those are getting a lot of use now,” Myles said.

Over the past few years, bike lanes were also added on Bridge Street and Military Road through the Safe Routes to School program.

Improvements underway include resurfacing and additional bike parking facilities along the 4-mile waterfront trail.

Ahead of the 2021 reconstruction of College Drive and Townsend Avenue, the committee is working with the Michigan Department of Transportation to include the needs of bicycle riders and pedestrians.

Talks are also ongoing to hold a regional law enforcement training on bike issues in Houghton through the League.

The committee is also preparing a non-motorized transportation plan to accompany the city’s 2018 master plan.

The bike route is also being developed with more connectors to places such as Michigan Tech.

Maps of bike routes in the city will be placed at informational kiosks.

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