Ferrying bicyclists across the Detroit River

We discussed this last year. Could a new ferry service across the river be the solution for Detroit and Windsor bicyclists wanting to cross the border?

It seems the answer is closer to “yes” these days.

Model D reported on this possibility at the end of last month in a conversation about the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority’s riverfront dock and terminal building construction. They spoke with the Port Authority’s John Kerr who “envisions… a commuter ferry service between Detroit and Windsor.”

Kerr was also on WDETs Craig Fahle Show last week. A podcast of that episode is on-line with the discussion beginning at 0:43.

We are also looking at commuter ferry service. We’ve had some discussions with the Windsor Port Authority and feel like there’s a market for potential ferry service. So, how cool would it be on the RiverWalk between the Ren Cen or maybe you’re at Cobo for a show and you come in and cross the border and to go to Windsor for lunch and bring people from Windsor to come over here for lunch?

That would be cool, especially if you could bring your bike.

But beyond just being able to get your bike across the river without a car, there are three specific projects that could greatly benefit from ferry service.

  1. The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route: The Adventure Cycling Association is working with others to develop a new bicycle route that would connect with their existing route. This new route would come to Detroit and preferably cross the river to Canada, just as thousands of freedom-seekers did. In fact we note that it was easier for freedom-seekers to cross the Detroit River than it is for bicyclists today.
  2. U.S. Bike Route System: Michigan is leading the nation in getting new U.S. Bike Routes closer to reality. Dividing the mitten, USBR 20 is almost ready for final approval. USBR 35 up the west coast is progressing as well. USBR’s 25, 30, and 36 all go through Detroit. It would invaluable if these routes allowed cycling tourists to cross into Canada.
  3. Bike the Bridge: This annual event rides across the Ambassador Bridge in the morning, but its return is via buses and with bikes stuffed in rental trucks. This event would be much more appealing if cyclists could return via ferry at their leisure.

We shared these projects with Kerr and look forward to getting more information on this cross-border opportunity in the near future.

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