Share the Road: Biking in Detroit

John R with four one-way vehicle lanes and negligible traffic -- an urban cyclist dream street.

John R with four one-way vehicle lanes and negligible traffic -- an urban cyclist dream street.

Metromode has a great article covering biking in Detroit, but more specifically those whose bike in the winter.

The Cass Corridor is cold, snowy and largely deserted outside of The Hub in Midtown Detroit this time of year. That’s not the case inside the new bike shop just north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Bicycling enthusiasts of all ages, colors and creeds rub tires inside a space littered with custom wheels and vintage bikes.

There is a constant stream of people coming and going from the shop in the dead of January, and they all got there on two wheels. Cold or no cold, these year-round commuters brave the freezing temperature, ice and snow to keep on pedaling. The destinations for these die-hards are their jobs, local businesses, friends and families.

“The winter time weeds out all of the wussies,” says Jordan Bentley, the mechanic manager at The Hub.

In the article, Alex Aranda makes a point that we make often: the City of Detroit has some of the best urban biking in the U.S.

We don’t have a many bike lanes (yet) but that’s not always a necessity for many of us.

We have roads like Second Avenue, Third Avenue, and John R with four lanes traveling in one direction and very few cars.  How few? In 2005, John R saw 1,405 vehicles per day at Owen.  That’s an average of less than 1 car per minute on a four lane one-way road.  And we’re driving less now.

Austin, Texas is a designated bike friendly community.  Last year I was there trying to follow some prescribed bike routes using their excellent bike map.  There was no shortage of motorized traffic.  It was not the most pleasant ride.  The repeating thought in my head was I’d rather be riding through Detroit.

And, Detroit’s streets are so lightly traveled that an alleycat was purposely held last year when three major events were happening downtown.  The hope was we’d have enough traffic on the roads to make the alleycat a little more New York-ish.  Even then, it just wasn’t that crowded on the roads.

Certainly the lack of motor traffic is indicative of Detroit’s depressed economic landscape and overbuilt road infrastruture.  The silver lining is it’s great for Detroit cyclists.

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