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Recent survey finds downtown Detroit still far from ideal

Jul 12, 2017

Detroit needs to put more resources into its transit system, according to a recent survey.

The 2016 Downtown Detroit Perceptions Report takes a look at topics like safety, mobility and inclusiveness.

The Downtown Detroit Partnership published the survey results. This is the third perception report since the survey began in 2010.

Less than 20% of respondents find downtown buses to be convenient. Only about 32% feel safe riding a bike in that area of the city.

While the report itself doesn’t get too detailed about why people feel this way, Downtown Detroit Partnership CEO Eric Larson thinks the responses still matter.

“Perception is 99% of reality, so these perceptions of downtown have an impact on what’s going on here,” Larson said.

Larson says this survey shows that cars are still the most convenient way to get around the city.

“Detroit and our region continues to be a place where the right to drive a car is like the right to bear arms under the constitution,” he said.

The survey data was gathered before the Q-Line launched, but 81% of people surveyed looked forward to riding the streetcar. 

Another area of interest for the city was how welcoming people perceive the downtown to be. Nearly 86% of people said they find downtown to be a generally welcoming place, but only 78% feel the area is welcoming to people of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

Larson said this disparity could be due to being asked to think about something more specifically, which could change how people answered. But he believes focusing on racial and ethnic inclusiveness can give opportunities to businesses in the area.

“It all tells us where there needs to be either greater concentration of effort, better access, and tweaks to the programs that we ultimately are doing,” he said

About 70% of those who took the survey identify as white, and 55% say they work downtown.

The city of Detroit is about 82% black, according to last year’s Census estimates.