Diane Weiss  /  AP
Bicycles rest against a tree at the rest stop at the foot of the Belle Isle bridge during the 10th annual Tour de Detroit on Sept. 24, 2011 in Detroit. A series of bike lanes stretching 16 miles and connecting three neighborhoods now has joined Detroit's popular RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut to make parts of the city more accessible to bike riders.
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updated 10/10/2011 3:25:42 PM ET 2011-10-10T19:25:42

A series of bike lanes stretching 16 miles and connecting three neighborhoods has joined Detroit's popular RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut to make parts of the city more accessible to bicyclists.

The Greenlink project allows riders to travel more safely through parts of Southwest Detroit and the Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods.

It also is the first large scale segment of the city's Urban Non-motorized Transportation Master Plan to be completed, said Scott Clein, executive vice president of Giffels-Webster, the civil engineering and surveying consulting firm on the project.

"Detroit has a strong bicycle community and there are a lot of bikers in this region," Clein said. "You've got flat streets and the spirit of freedom to go wherever you want."

The project connects the Southwest Detroit Greenway using West Vernor Highway with bike lanes and signed roadways.

A $500,000 Michigan Department of Transportation grant paid for 80 percent of the project. Other grants and fundraisers paid for the rest.

The Greater Corktown Development Corp. and the Southwest Detroit Business Association worked with Giffels-Webster on the project.

The city's non-motorized master plan, designed by Giffels-Webster, includes more than 400 miles of bike lanes, Clein said.

Bike lanes also are planned for Detroit's thriving Midtown neighborhood.

"We're trying to get the individual projects to point toward each other," he said. "Once we get into Midtown, you can start getting over to Eastern Market, then to the Dequindre Cut and then to the RiverWalk."

The bike lanes aren't intended just for pleasure riding. Clein expects them to be used by people riding their bikes to and from work, and even to grocery stores.

"Keep an eye out for more and more bike lanes, sidewalks and other alternative uses of roadways," Clein added. "By getting people out of their cars and safely on sidewalks and bikes, we can breathe new life into a city or town."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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