Taking Back the Streets One Bicycle at a Time

Coming from me, you’d assume that an item about bicycles would be Minneapolis-related, but it’s not! It’s about Detroit!

Believe it or not, people in the Car Capital of the World love their bikes. And there is a huge movement to create a culture here that is friendlier to two wheels than four.

One such project would develop about 400 miles of bicycle lanes throughout Detroit. All it would take is some paint, new signs and a little cash, said Scott Clein, who heads the Detroit office of Giffels-Webster Engineers.

The firm, along with other key partners, mapped out every one of those miles with the city’s cooperation and a Michigan Department of Transportation grant. Clein and a support staff spent 18 months on the project, studying Detroit and trying to connect its waterways, landmarks and neighborhoods.

I frankly can’t fathom biking around Detroit. Like, can you see one of Eight Mile’s four lanes (in each direction) or one of Telegraph Rd’s four lanes (in each direction) being a bike lane? Or turning the dividing section in the middle of those roads into a bike highway (except that would totally screw with the Michigan Left)?

This is Eight Mile Rd, just east of Telegraph, looking back west. Four lanes in both directions, a boulevard in the middle, and a “Michigan left” just ahead of you.



Over the past weekend, an estimated 2,000 cyclists came to the city for the 8th annual Tour De Troit – nearly double the number that showed up last year. Its goal is in part is to raise funds for the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink, which could link these key communities to the Detroit riverfront.

One great example already exists. The Dequindre Cut Greenway, an urban recreational path, officially opened in May. The 1.2-mile greenway, developed through a public, nonprofit and private partnership, offers a pedestrian link between the Riverfront, Eastern Market and many of the adjacent residential neighborhoods. Formerly a Grand Truck Railroad line, the Dequindre Cut is a below-street level path that features a 20-foot-wide paved pathway, which includes separate lanes for pedestrian and bicycle or rollerblading traffic.

I must see this on my next trip home. Even though it’s waaaay on the east side, and my folks live waaaaay on the west side, and I’ll surely have to drive to it.

The comments are good, too. I appreciated the discussion about the appropriateness of spending money on these types of projects (and the sources of funding) given the financial difficulties the city faces.

Simply reading Detroit bikers comment on where they live and ride reminds me of the scale of the area we’re talking about. From my parents’ house in the northest/westest corner of the city to most points downtown or on the east side is 15+ miles. 15 miles from downtown Minneapolis gets you to the I-494/I-694 loop that generally separates the first-ring and second-ring suburbs. Detroit is just so much bigger.

This also reminds me that I haven’t spent any of my adult life in Detroit (except for that one year I was unemployed, which didn’t count). I have no desire to move back, but I really wonder what it would be like to live and work downtown or somewhere else that’s not the suburbs where the Catholic schools I attended are. What would it be like to live in a part of Detroit that actually mirrors many of the things that I like best about Minneapolis?

This article has kind of blown my mind grapes.


Hart said...

Detroit will be the ciclovia capital of the midwest in ten years, mark my words.

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