And we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Huffington Post Detroit series
This really has been a special series of three articles on Detroit bicycling that break the standard templates used before. These are not articles about lycra-clad club riders going for a weekend recreational tour. It’s about Detroiters, many of whom are relying on bicycles as transportation.
Joe Simpson bikes out of necessity. The 61-year-old used to work for the nonprofit Focus: Hope, but he’s currently unemployed. “Cars are an inconvenience on my economic level,” he explained. “I can get into the city by bike at least as fast as I can by bus, and that’s not even considering the wait for the bus.”
“This is my transportation, that’s why I bike,” Simpson said. “It’s not exercise. It’s not a hobby. That’s my involvement in bike culture right there.”
[Detroit’s Department of Public Works director Ron] Brundidge said Detroit is aggressively building bike lanes to promote a healthy lifestyle and to encourage environmentally conscious behavior. “We just feel it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to have our citizens have the option and ability to get out there and bike,” Brundidge said.
Some of these two-wheel havens have only been around for a few years, others have been solid pillars of their neighborhoods for decades. From fixing gears to fixed-gears, each of the following spaces offers a unique spin on what what cycling means to Motown.
So what makes Detroit, a city built for four-wheeled traffic, so bike-friendly?
“Number one, it’s the abundance of infrastructure,” says Karen Gage, co-owner of The Wheelhouse in Detroit. “The city was built for (two) million people but there are less than a million now, so we have lots of roads and not a lot of traffic.”
The South End
Detroit is also filled with neighborhoods that are fascinating to ride through. Corktown, home of the famously abandoned Michigan Central Station; Indian Village, an east side neighborhood known for its historic homes; and McDougall-Hunt, the small neighborhood where the Heidelberg Project is located.
More interesting neighborhoods include: Eastern Market, West Side Industrial, Milwaukee Junction, New Center and Wayne State’s very own Midtown, among many others.
Changing Gears (and Forbes)
“Detroit has a very cool, strong cyclist culture,” says Eli Bayless, the Tigers’ director of promotions and in-game operations.
MS: What can you say about road diets and bike lanes contributing toward the effort?
JG:?We’re talking about using excess road capacity to create something like bike lanes or greenways or wider sidewalks. They’re recreational venues, they tend to be venues for economic development since people develop things along those routes.
We’re talking about creating sort of landmarks within neighborhoods so you have one big thing like the Riverwalk meets a smaller one that’s coming into it and that creates a lot of venues where people can get together.
This is all about strategies to connect people in different neighborhood within neighborhoods and connecting different neighborhoods to each other through these intervention strategies which are not just the typical build roads, build highways, build stadiums and casinos but doing some of the non-traditional stuff.