Frequently cited as an indicator of an emerging economy, bicycles are becoming the symbol of sustainable and productive communities. From Copenhagen, Denmark, to Portland, Oregon, bicyclists represent a considerable portion of daily commuters. Will the Motor City (Detroit, Michigan) ever relinquish its auto-centric ideals for the benefits of pedal power? A combination of rising gas prices, bus delays, lack of light rail, and limited resources have Detroiters talking.
Compared to other transportation alternatives, bicycles do not require infrastructural changes. Indeed, Detroit has plenty of roads to share. However, road diets and greenway developments certainly make cities more inviting to cyclists. Detroit’s 40 miles of bicycle infrastructure includes 6 miles of trails on Belle Isle, the 1.35 mile Dequindre Cut, and the 3.5 mile Detroit RiverWalk project.
With financial support from MDOT, Bikes Belong, and Community Foundation for SE Michigan-Greenway Initiative, the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance and Detroit Works seek to realize the vision of Detroit’s 2006 Non-Motorized Masterplan. Re-branding Detroit as a bicycle-friendly city requires the input of decision-makers and residents.
For many, cycling is more than a transportation alternative; it is a culture and a social justice platform for addressing issues of economics, environment, and equity. Focused on youth development, sustainable practices, and community access, Hub of Detroit provides cycling education and maintenance. While Wheelhouse Detroit offers bicycle tours of Detroit breweries, urban farms, automotive landmarks, and historical neighborhoods. Thanks to social media, Detroit has also seen growing participation in PARK(ing) Day, Critical Mass, Thunderdrome, Wolverine 200, and Tour de Troit. Collaborative environmental designers and passionate entrepreneurs – the progress is promising.
Road diets and greenway development to weekly rides and training programs, what encourages bicycle-use in your community? What would you like to see more of?
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