Livernois Avenue, a major North-South corridor that connects inner-city Detroit, Michigan to its suburbs, has suffered from disinvestment and car-centric infrastructure, leading to a low perception of safety, high-vacancy rates, and poor walkability.
The Better Block project kicked off April 23, 2016 on one block of Livernois directly across from the University of Detroit Mercy campus, an area dubbed “Live6” for its proximity to 6 Mile Road. For one weekend, we brought the community together to take back part of their street, give local entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their businesses, and attempted to bridge the divide between the university and its neighborhood.
We constructed a one-day demonstration of a “Livable Livernois” on April 23, 2016. With the help of our many partners and volunteers, we narrowed the roadway to one lane in each direction, replaced the East lane with a 12-foot cycle track, activated the area around the University gate with seating and a coffee kiosk, and connected it with a crosswalk to a pop-up food court on the West side of the street.
To ease property-owner concerns about parking, we re-aligned the spaces to allow for diagonal parking in front of the block’s businesses and kept the rest of the lane open for parallel parking. Overall, feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. Sixty-six percent of respondents cited the bike lanes as the element of the demonstration that they would most like to see made permanent, followed closely by seating and crosswalks. Other elements that were requested for future or permanent installation included additional lighting, public art, more local businesses, and a celebration of the corridor’s history.