Energy-efficient lights help spread holiday cheer

By NICK MEYERFREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

With new energy-efficient styles lining store shelves, holiday light sales have remained steady in metro Detroit.
Associates from stores like Target and Rite Aid in Westland as well as English Gardens in Royal Oak have reported that sales are as good or even a little better than in recent years.
Many people are finding that going out and buying new lights is more cost-effective than stringing up the same outdated, energy-sapping models they’ve been using for years.

“Holiday lights are more energy efficient than they used to be,” said Scott Simons, DTE Energy Spokesperson. “Holiday lighting doesn’t add a whole lot (of cost), but for people looking for less of an impact on their energy bills, the newer, more efficient lights are better.”

Solar-powered Christmas lights have been a hot item at Target while battery-powered lights have been popular at Rite Aid.

But even the popular new LED (light-emitting diode) lights are a big upgrade from the old models that many people stash in their basements and reuse with designs on saving money.
“There’s been a huge shift to LED lights, more and more people are buying those because they’re energy-saving and they have long, lasting, vibrant colors,” said Dean Darin, general manager of the English Gardens store in Royal Oak.

Darin helps decide which Christmas lights and how many to buy for all seven of English Gardens’ metro Detroit stores.

According to Darin, who researches light efficiency to determine the best values for customers, a 700-light LED set saves over 90% in electricity costs compared to a similar 700-light set of classic miniature bulbs. LED light colors generally don’t fade and boast lifetimes of up to 200,000 hours. They first hit shelves in 2005 at English Gardens and finally caught on big last year, when the Royal Oak store sold out. This year, Darin ordered extra LED lights for customers and the results have been good so far.

While most people decide to make the switch to LED lights because of their brilliant colors, the energy and money savings are a welcome side benefit.

“We have Christmas trees in front of the store with sapphire blue, white, and purple lights in and people drive by, see them, and come in and ask ‘What are those lights?’” said Darin.

“We show them and then they buy them. Light sales are good because it’s kind of a new technology but it’s just now catching on and driving the industry.”
by Louise Rafkin, San Francisco Chronicle

As a principal dancer for the Martha Graham Dance Company, Heidi Stoeckley, 28, originally from Lansing, Mich., traveled the world. Her home? A storage space. Her friends? Other dancers. Romance? There was little time for that.

But in 2005, when, in Madrid, a performance was suddenly canceled, she quickly jumped a plane to Michigan to be the surprise at a cousin's wedding. What she didn't realize was that Chris Nogoy, a groomsman in from San Francisco, would be the real surprise.

The two met briefly late in the evening in one of those situations where someone shouts out "Hey, who are you?" and a group interview ensues. It was discovered that Chris, 32, an architect, had grown up an hour away from Heidi in Troy. Thirty minutes later, with Chris' e-mail address in hand, Heidi announced to her mom, seated nearby, "I'm going to marry that man." Her mom's response? "I agree."

Chris knew it too. "My work was done," he says with an incredibly bright smile.

But Heidi was off to South America, where, post performances, she would find an Internet cafe and exchange missives with a man whose appearance she could barely recall. The two bonded over art, craft and the meaning of expression. They "got" each other.

A month later Heidi was back in New York for their first phone call. A U.S. tour took her to Michigan, where both families turned out for her performance. Chris flew in, too. The two had seen each other only that single time. But just before Heidi took center stage, they had their first moment alone. Before a kiss, Chris said what was already known: "I love you."

Heidi performed exquisitely, and after the adoring families had finally dispersed, the two retreated to her hotel room, where Chris had deposited gifts. A ring box contained - not a ring - but a tiny figure of a baby ("for our innocence") and a ninja ("for wisdom and adventure"). Yet strung up in a large white box on threads of silk was an heirloom ring dating back 200 years to Chris' relatives in the Philippines. "Are you asking me to marry you?" Heidi asked. They both said, "Yes."

The very next day, Heidi was off again. But while away, Heidi's mom planned a Michigan Christmas engagement party at which the two surprised everyone by marrying. (Heidi wore a Diane von Furstenberg dress the designer gave her at a Martha Graham benefit.) A whirlwind year, during which the dance company went bankrupt, and the two married again, in the Philippines, led Heidi to graduate school in business.

This past spring, after graduation, the two moved back to Chris' beloved San Francisco. "We married the third time we met," says Heidi, still amazed at the turn of events.
"And we're still flying in love," says Chris.
The International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, routinely recognized for being among the top high schools in the nation, ranked sixth in the U.S. News Media Group list of the 100 best public high schools.

The list was announced Friday and will be highlighted in the America's Best High Schools issue of U.S. News & World Report, on sale next week.

More than 21,000 high schools were evaluated based primarily on college readiness and academic achievement.

The top 100 schools received gold distinction. Many more were recognized with silver, bronze and honorable mention distinctions.

In Michigan, 19 schools received the silver ranking. In metro Detroit, they included Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Grosse Pointe South High School, Renaissance High School in Detroit, Adams High School in Rochester Hills and Troy High School.

Happiness spreads like the plague

Media Genesis creates 30 new jobs in two years, plans to hire more

About a dozen years ago, four guys were working at EDS. Their main job was launching GM.com. Like so many entrepreneurs before them, this group of guys realized they could do the same thing their employer was doing, only better. And thus Media Genesis was born.

Well, those four guys have grown their Troy-based firm to 64 people, including independent contractors and interns. The company averages about 50 percent annual revenue growth, including 70 percent last year. That has allowed Media Genesis to add nearly 30 people to its payroll in the last few years and it looks forward to keep growing for the foreseeable future.

"We want to be careful that we don't grow faster than we can manage," says Antoine Dubeauclard, president of Media Genesis.

The company hopes to sustain this new growth by moving into new markets. It's also committed to helping diversify Michigan's economy and by working with a number of non-profits and maintaining a regional perspective.

"We're helping out the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. We're helping out all of the chambers of commerce," Dubeauclard says. "A lot of what we're doing is working on this as a regional venture."

Source: Antoine Dubeauclard, president of Media Genesis
metromode, 12/4/2008

Downtown Ferndale is about to become a little more dense now that Lofts on the 9 will be welcoming its first new residents this month.

Construction is set to wrap up within the next few days and the residents are set to move in shortly after that. Lofts on the 9 is on East 9 Mile Road just east of Como's Restaurant and across the street from the Ferndale Public Library.

Most of the ground floor retail space is spoken for by a couple of businesses, including a Yoga studio. The businesses are expected to move in early next year. The 4-story structure features units that are priced from $149,000 to the mid $400,000s. They range in size between 500 and 2,100 square feet, however, the 2,100-square-foot loft can be expanded up to 2,700 square feet by adding a rooftop deck. Each unit comes with a parking spot underneath the building.

The group of developers behind the Lofts on the 9 project also built the Troy, Main and Center street lofts developments in downtown Royal Oak.For information, call Crystal Marsh at (248) 535-4908.
Metromode, 12/4/2008

Troy-based CareTech Solutions and Broomfield Hills-based ESI North America are investing a combined $32.4 million in the state over the next five years, a commitment that’s expected to create 550 new jobs."It's a win for the State of Michigan," says CareTech President and CEO Jim Giordano. "As we expand our business in other states, 50 percent of the jobs created will remain in Michigan."

CareTech is a health care information management company with 590 Michigan-based employees, a payroll count that will jump by 440 new employees in the next five years. CareTech is investing $28 million in its 65,000 square foot Troy-based headquarters, which will be expanded to 110,000 square feet. The first 10,000 square foot addition should be complete within the next six months.

The MEGA grants funneled through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) encouraged both companies to stay in the mitten. CareTech was exploring an Ohio location and had been approached by representatives in Florida, Pennsylvania, both Carolinas and West Virginia.
A $7.8 million Michigan state tax credit encouraged CareTech to remain in Michigan.

Digital simulation software company, ESI, was considering an expansion to Alabama or California. However, a $2.8 million Michigan tax credit encouraged ESI to stay in Bloomfield Hills.

ESI is investing $4.4 million to expand its 10,000 square foot facility by 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. Eventually ESI will move its headquarters to a larger facility within Oakland County."I am convinced that the support of the State of Michigan and Oakland County will allow ESI to expand not only our facilities, but our capabilities and ultimately, our client base," says ESI President Michael Bloor.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI.- Customized Smart Cars with graphics created by Elliott Earls, Cranbrook Academy of Art’s Artist-in-Residence will be zooming around the streets of Miami during the celebrated art fair ArtBasel/Miami from December 4-7, 2008. Earl’s will also perform a piece inspired by the Thoughts on Democracy exhibit at the Wolfsonian Museum on Friday, December 5.
Eight Smart Cars each customized with a quote about democracy from a renowned artist or designer will be driving around Miami Beach Art Basel Miami Beach one of the most important art events. Art Basel Miami Beach combines an international selection of top galleries with an programs of special exhibitions, parties and crossover events featuring music, film, architecture and design. Exhibition sites are located in the city's beautiful Art Deco District, within walking distance of the beach and many hotels.
Earls work is also on display in the Wolfsonian Museum ’s Thoughts on Democracy exhibition which is comprised of posters created by 60 leading contemporary artists and designers, invited by The Wolfsonian to create a new graphic design inspired by American illustrator Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” posters of 1943, which were recently gifted to the museum by Leonard A. Lauder.
The exhibition is on view and free to the public in the The Wolfsonian Museum's lobby through December 2008. As part of the exhibition and his work currently on display at the Museum, “Liberty Weeps,” Earls has created a performance piece which will debut on Friday, December 5. Earls is the Artist-in-Residence and Head of the 2D Design Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art where he received his MFA in 1993. Earls's is best known for his experimentation with nonlinear digital video, spoken word poetry, music composition and design.
His commercial clients have included Elektra Entertainment, Nonesuch Records, Scribner Publishing C., Elemond Casabella (Itlay), The Cartoon Network (U.K.), Imaginary Forces, Polygram Classics and Jazz, The Voyager Company and Janus Films. His commercial work includes two television commercials for the Cartoon Network in the United Kingdom as well as an interactive documentary on the work of Frank Gehry for Casabella in Italy.
As a typographer, his original type design is distributed worldwide by Emigre Inc. Earls's posters entitled "The Conversion of Saint Paul", "throwing Apples at the Sun,""The Temptation of Saint Wolfgang" and "She a Capulet" are part of the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Earls's latest enhanced CD/poster package was recently added to the Cooper-Hewitt's research file.Elliott has performed at the Cretiel Theatre Festival in France, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minesota; The Oak Street Theatre in Portland, Maine; at Experimenta 99, Lisbon, Portugal; Opera Totale in Metrre/Venice; Typo 2000 in Berlin; and Living Surfaces in Park City Utah.
Leather supplier Eagle Ottawa sees growth niche despite auto downturn
by Sven Gustafson Oakland Business Review

A nearly 150-year-old supplier of automotive leather interiors is expanding its product line, capabilities and environmentally friendly offerings even as it hunkers down to weather a crippling downturn in automobile production.

Auburn Hills-based Eagle Ottawa, which traditionally focused solely on leather seat covers, has quietly been moving toward becoming more vertically integrated as a complete leather interior solutions provider.

The company today is shopping expanded wrapping, laminating and sewing services to automakers, all while expanding a line of environmentally friendly leather products.

"It's been under way for about ... two to three years. And it came about in a bigger way for us when we went into China," President and CEO Jerry Sumpter said.

That's when the company was working with automaker BMW, which wanted a leather company that also could sew seat covers, Sumpter said. Eagle Ottawa, which was working on leather-wrapped door panels at the time with GM's Cadillac brand and Southfield-based sewer Lear Corp., decided to open a sewing and door-wrapping plant in China, its first.

The moves, company officials say, coincide with an industry trend toward greater use of the material for a variety of vehicle segments.

Sumpter"It's not just for large luxury cars anymore," said Pat Oldenkamp, Eagle Ottawa's vice president of design and marketing for the Americas. "We see the luxury appointments in the interiors becoming much more important even in smaller vehicles.

"We're really helping (automakers) to sell their brands, to give them new products, to give them differentiation through their brands and to help at the end of the day to sell more products."

The company got its start in 1865 in Whitehall as Eagle Tanning Works, which made goods for the horse and buggy trade. Eagle merged with Ottawa Leather Co. in 1916 to form Eagle Ottawa Leather Co.

Today, the company boasts more than 4,000 employees over 25 locations globally, and about $550 million in expected revenue for 2008. It employs about 130 in Michigan, where it also operates a product development and prototype manufacturing center in Rochester Hills.
The company's products are carried on more than 100 production vehicles, including 2008 models Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord and BMW 3-Series.

Like competitors including Lear (a seat-maker that also is a large customer of its hides), Eagle Ottawa is taking cues from the worlds of fashion and interior design for its automotive leather accoutrements. In recent years it has expanded its capabilities to include highly stylized custom perforation, decorative stitching, tipping, embroidery and pearlescence effects.

Oldenkamp said the company sees the luxury vehicle segment growing more competitive globally, along with features such as leather-wrapped instrument panels and head rests. But it also sees growing demands for some of its technology advances.

Courtesy photoEagle Ottawa has added 22 new colors and 44 new textures to its automotive leather portfolio.

Those include new cleanable, anti-soiling leathers and coatings that help reflect solar rays to keep leather surfaces cooler on hot days. They also include greener leather initiatives such as non-chrome leathers, water-based finishes and extensive reuse of wastewater, which is treated onsite at each of the company's production facilities.

While the company hasn't completely eliminated pollutants from its hide finishing and production processes, it has won numerous environmental awards. Its newer roll-coating finishing technology has drastically reduced its waste stream, and it is actively looking for ways to reuse its leather trimmings, said Nathan Mullinix, vice president of research and development for the Americas.

"One of the ideas would be maybe to generate ... some type of substrate that would have a lot of leather content to it, maybe upwards of 70 percent, that could then be finished and grained in a similar fashion to what we do and utilized as well," Mullinix said.

The company hasn't been immune from the slowdown in automotive production.

"What's happened in the business is affecting us just like it is anyone," Sumpter said. "The thing about this that was a little eye-opening, I guess, was how fast and how severe the slowdown was and how global it was."

The company has been consolidating, reducing capacity and "laying off hundreds of people around the world" in places like Hungary, China and Mexico, Sumpter said. But the company's U.S. work force, which is centered largely in its Auburn Hills headquarters, its Rochester Hills R&D center and a design center in Newport Beach, Calif., has mostly been spared.

"You try to affect the parts of the business that aren't as value-oriented," Sumpter said. "We're not going to cut down on our R&D, we're not going to cut down on our selling. Those are the things we have to have."
Altair Engineering Offers Free HyperWorks Training and CAE Software to Displaced Engineers in Michigan

TROY, Mich., Dec. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Altair Engineering, a global provider of technology and services, today announced that it will offer free technology training courses and licenses for advanced software to displaced engineers in Michigan who want to expand their skills in computer-aided engineering (CAE) as a way of increasing their marketability to employers.
Altair's Professional Workforce Initiative pilot program, which supports Michigan's efforts to retrain and diversify the state's workforce as the regional economy evolves into new industries, will be launched in southeast Michigan. Depending on its success, the program may become a sustained initiative to be offered to displaced engineers in Michigan and other regions of the United States.

"We have been approached in recent weeks by many long-time Altair clients who have been displaced from their jobs, and they have requested free software licenses to stay current with industry technology," said Altair Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James R. Scapa. "With more than 3,800 corporate clients, we felt that we could perform a meaningful service for our professional industry colleagues affected by the economic downturn while at the same time offsetting significant training costs for local companies that may subsequently hire participants in the program." Each engineer may enroll in as many as four training sessions, including:

-- Update training in modeling and visualization
-- Linear and noise-vibration-and-harshness (NVH) analysis
-- Crashworthiness and safety analysis
-- Multi-body dynamics simulation

"We applaud Altair for its commitment to helping engineering professionals increase their marketability and remain competitive in today's global economy," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "Altair's efforts mirror the state's mission of ensuring we have a highly skilled workforce for emerging industries and high-growth professions like engineering. We thank Altair for being a socially responsible corporate citizen and encourage other Michigan companies to join us in this effort to promote lifelong learning."

The value of the program and 90-day software license exceeds $11,000 per person. Degreed engineers who have been displaced from their jobs in Michigan, as well as engineers on unpaid leave from area manufacturers that have suspended operations during December, are eligible to attend the sessions and practice using the software on their personal computers at no charge for 90 days. If they remain unemployed after that period, Altair will renew the license for another 90 days so the engineers can continue to expand and sharpen their CAE skills.

Engineers can view criteria, read complete course descriptions, and apply for the training through an online form at www.altairhyperworks.com/PWI .

The first training course for the Altair Professional Workforce Initiative will be held December 10 at Altair world headquarters at 1820 E. Big Beaver Road in Troy, Mich. The additional three courses will be offered at the same location in December and January. Participants completing the training sessions will receive certifications in Altair's HyperWorks technology, which in many industries is a global standard for simulation and CAE solver solutions.

The number of participants in the Altair Professional Workforce Initiative will depend on demand and space limitations. Altair is encouraging displaced engineers to apply online today, since enrollment will be finalized during the next week.

About Altair
Altair Engineering, Inc. empowers client innovation and decision making through technology that optimizes the analysis, management and visualization of business and engineering information. Privately held with more than 1,400 employees, Altair has offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia/Pacific. With a 20-year plus track record for enterprise analytics, product development, and advanced computing, Altair consistently delivers a competitive advantage to customers in a broad range of industries. To learn more, please visit www.altair.com .
SOURCE Altair Engineering

Senate passes key components of plan for project along Woodward
Gary Heinlein and Tanveer Ali / The Detroit News

LANSING -- Key components of a plan to build a light rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit were approved without opposition by the state Senate on Thursday, and lawmakers said they plan to complete the multibill package when they resume session next week.

The proposal, pushed by billionaires Dan Gilbert and Roger Penske, would use $103 million in private money to build the street-level rail line looping between Hart Plaza and Grand Boulevard in the New Center area. Its 12 stops would include major businesses, theaters, ballparks, museums and hospitals.
"

It has the potential to be a model for creating mass transit in Michigan," said Sen. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Light rail in the heart of Detroit, which eventually could link to hoped-for train systems running north to the suburbs and west past Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Ann Arbor, is endorsed by House and Senate leaders, as well as Gov. Jennifer Granholm.


The Senate passed four of eight bills already adopted by the House, and Gilbert said he expects the Senate to pass the rest of them Wednesday.


The one possible obstacle to passage is a controversy that emerged Thursday regarding an upcoming executive order from Granholm that will make cuts in the current state budget because of a predicted $500 million revenue shortfall. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, sent Granholm a letter on Thursday threatening to suspend any further Senate voting until the order has been issued.


As proposed, the rail line would be run by a nonprofit corporation whose directors would include public officials and private business executives. The state would provide an annual subsidy for operating costs not covered by the fares collected from passengers.


The Detroit Department of Transportation is in talks to meld its proposed $371-million rail line from downtown to the Oakland County border with the train tracks envisioned in the legislation. There also are hopes for an Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter line in October 2010 with $100 million in federal funds.


Bills approved by the Senate on Thursday would:
• Allow the organization of a nonprofit corporation to build and operate the railway system.
• Permit the railway to obtain land, sell bonds and mortgage its property to provide security for the bonds.
• Let the railway store and use electrical power.
• Authorize the Michigan Department of Transportation to establish a transit development finance zone that would be empowered to collect incremental property tax revenue.
• Require the state transportation department to supplement the railway's fare revenues with up to $8 million annually, beginning with the 2010-11 budget year.


Megan Owens, director of Detroit-based Transportation Riders United, a mass transit advocacy group, said the Senate passage of the bills is encouraging for a region where transit solutions have been stalled for decades.


She said obstacles still remain, and she hopes state funding will be available not only for a Woodward line, but existing and future transit infrastructure.


"We're definitely very excited to see this legislation moving forward," Owens said. "This does move Detroit that much closer to having real rapid transit. Obviously the rapid transit ... on Woodward is absolutely critical, not only to get around Detroit but as an economic tool."

Michigan House approves bill to allow early voting
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan residents would have more flexibility to vote early in elections under terms of legislation that has passed the state House. The bill would require some polling sites to be open for the Friday, Saturday and Monday before Election Day. Supporters say 31 other states have some form of early voting and that participation in elections typically increases because voters have more options. But the legislation passed the Democrat-led House on Thursday by a relatively narrow 58-50 and faces an uphill climb to become law. The bill, which now goes to the Republican-led Senate, would only become law if the Legislature also approves a measure to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan. That proposal has stalled in the Senate.
Fund-raiser in Ferndale tonight
Think 1933 as patrons raise money for the Goodfellows
BY BILL LAITNER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Tonight at seven Ferndale nightspots, suggested dress is flapper or gangster attire.

And patrons can pretend it's 75 years ago -- Dec. 5, 1933 -- when booze became legal again.

The occasion is a fund-raiser for the Ferndale Firefighters Goodfellows, which helps kids each year with new clothes and toys at the holidays, said Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey.

"We're going to double what they can give away this year," Covey said Wednesday.

But the event also is an inside joke for the mayor and two neighbors who concocted it, Monica and Larry Mills -- a wink at their wish to legalize marijuana.

Their flyer reads:
"During Prohibition, illegal liquor ... made criminals rich and powerful. Police officers and the FBI were investing much time and money fighting a losing battle. Legalizing and taxing liquor offered better control and lawful jobs."

Asked about it, Monica Mills laughed and said: "Doesn't it sound like something else?"

Participating sites are Buffalo Wild Wings, Danny's, Dino's, Gracie's Underground, Howe's Bayou, Sneakers and, for members, the Ferndale Elks Club.
Resilient Michigan shoppers help to raise spirits
by Rick Haglund Detroit Bureau
Wednesday December 03, 2008, 9:18 AM

Having been subjected to an unrelenting barrage of bad economic news, consumers broke out of their funk and engaged in some serious retail therapy over the Thanksgiving weekend.
But will the holiday shopping spree continue or was it just a feel-good, three-day spending binge?

Despite rising joblessness and the worst economy in at least 25 years, consumers surprisingly opened their pocketbooks and spent 7.2 percent more during the weekend kickoff of the holiday shopping season than they did a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation.

Many Michigan retailers apparently also enjoyed relatively healthy post-Thanksgiving sales results, even though auto industry woes have dominated the news and dinner table conversations.
Forty percent of the 50 retailers who responded to an e-mail survey by the Michigan Retailers Association said their weekend sales exceeded the same period a year ago.
An additional 20 percent said their sales were about the same as last year.

"It's good to see consumers out," said Ed Nakfoor, a retailing consultant in Birmingham. "It does a lot to calm the jitters and shows that not everyone's at home stuffing the mattresses."

People without jobs or those who fear losing them probably were not shopping. But industry officials say many consumers who have been staying away from the malls recently were ready to spend on Black Friday.

"You can almost sense a backlash against all the gloom and doom in news reports," said James Hallan, chief executive officer of the 5,500-member Michigan Retailers Association.

Whether consumers will remain confident throughout the critically important holiday shopping season is unclear, though.

Some experts says consumers may have wrapped up most of their holiday shopping last weekend because there are five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than in 2007.

Fearful of a dismal Black Friday, the day industry traditionally swings from losses to profits, retailers offered some of their biggest early morning "door buster" discounts ever.

"A lot of stores were basically giving away the store," Nakfoor told me.

And they likely will continue offering deep discounts to save what many experts earlier anticipated would be the worst holiday shopping season in years.

In October, the state retailers association said its members were forecasting holiday sales would fall 1.2 percent from 2007, the first predicted year-over-year sales decline since the association started surveying retailers in 1994.

But holiday shoppers have annually proven their generosity, regardless of economic conditions, said association spokesman Tom Scott.

"I think overall there's still this sense among people that the holiday comes only once a year and that they'll make the best of it for their friends and family," he said.

Michigan gets high marks on bicycle friendliness
BY MATT HELMS
FREE PRESS DRIVING COLUMNIST

Michigan ranks in the top tier of states for bicycle friendliness, the Michigan Department of Transportation says.

A recent survey by the League of American Bicyclists ranked the state well in its education efforts and in infrastructure available for cycling, putting the state at 12th in the nation.
Click Here for more info on the survey.

MDOT said there’s a connection between a perception of good quality of life and bicycle friendliness, which can encourage better health, improved traffic and economic development.

“Many Michigan communities have incorporated bike lanes on local roads and constructed hundreds of miles of bike trails with assistance from numerous state departments and nonprofit resources,” said Joshua DeBruyn, MDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. “This creates an infrastructure that encourages bicycling.”

It’s a little chilly now, so you might want to hold on to these links until spring, but here are places to find out more about biking options in Michigan: http://www.michigantrails.org/ or www.michigan.gov/mdot-biking.
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