Posts Tagged ‘bike tours’

Detroit Bicycle Fest: A week of highlights

Monday, September 17th, 2012

On Thursday, a visitor from San Francisco wrote that Detroit had “no bike/hipster culture.”

True in the suburbs, it wasn’t a good week to stand by that claim in the city of Detroit where eight days of bicycle events drew large crowds.

Unfortunately we were unable to attend all of the week’s events, but here’s what we saw and heard.

Tour de Ford grew by 200 cyclists and broke the 500 mark for the first time. It was encouraging to see Henry Ford Health System’s growing support and enthusiasm for cycling in Detroit.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Bicycle Dreams movie attracted a very impressive crowd. Given this response, we can probably expect more bike-related films during the Fest.

With ride volunteers, the 11th annual Tour de Troit sold out and had over 5,000 cyclists. This was the first year that all the streets along the entire 30-mile route were closed to vehicles.

From the Detroit News:

“It really becomes a little community,” he said. “You all have something in common even though you don’t know the person next to you.”

And that is exactly the point, says Bill Lusa, chairman of the board for Tour de Troit.

“For the first timers, especially the people coming from the suburbs, most of what they know about Detroit is going to a game, going to a show, getting off a freeway and going right into a parking lot,” Lusa said. “This is a great way to get out of the car and see the city with others.”

The Detroit News published a second article as well. The Huffington Post and Detroit Free Press also covered the event.

The DIA’s Inside | Out Bicycle tour sold out as well with about 100 cyclists. The Detroit Free Press covered that event.

After Sunday’s ride, bicyclists were invited to go inside the DIA to see the original works.

“It’s a combination of two things we love: art and riding,” said Harley Miah, 39, of Wyandotte.

Besides the movie and tours, the DIA has stepped up their support of bicycling by adding racks near the Farnworth entrance. There are also free bike lockers available just across John R as well.

We also heard good things about the Celebration of Cycling ride and Slow Jams ride, but were unable to attend.

Mike Kiewicz, who helped start the Tour de Troit in 2002, told the Detroit News, “To see what it’s become is absolutely amazing.” That can be said about all of these events. The growing interest and participation is exceeding expectations.

And with the Tour de Troit raising funds for more bike infrastructure in Detroit, we can expect to see even more growth in the years to come.

Underground Railroad Bicycle Route gatherings

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The second of two maps for the Underground Railroad Detroit Alternative Bicycle Route are now available.

As you may recall, this Adventure Cycling bicycle route begins in Mobile, Alabama and heads north to Oberlin, Ohio. Previously the route only went east, entering Ontario at Buffalo. The Detroit alternative route heads to Toledo, Adrian, Ann Arbor, and Detroit.

“We’re thrilled to offer this new alternate route between Oberlin and Owen Sound. Cyclists can now experience even more landmarks and historically important communities along the Underground Railroad,” said Carla Majernik, Adventure Cycling’s routes and mapping director. “The route also follows the Lake Huron shoreline to Owen Sound, which is an incredibly scenic ride.”

Detroit is an important highlight on the new route for its historic relevance and its contemporary efforts to improve conditions for cyclists,” said Ginny Sullivan, special projects director and lead staff on the UGRR project. “Increasingly the city has invested in bike lanes, greenways, urban agriculture, and natural parks, making it an even more attractive stopover for touring cyclists on the new route.”

Running through many smaller communities in northwestern Ohio, southern Michigan, and southern Ontario, the Detroit Alternate creates a cultural heritage corridor that not only offers education and recreational opportunities for people of all ages, but also promises increased tourism to the communities along this iconic corridor.

Unfortunately bicyclists cannot currently get across the Detroit River without a car, so the route heads north to the ferry service in Marine City, Michigan.

This week’s events

Adventure Cycling’s executive director Jim Sayer is coming to Detroit to help promote the new maps. You’re welcomed to attend these events, but please RSVP as they are starting to fill up.

  • Wednesday, February 22 – Troy, Michigan
    Regional gathering from 7-9 pm at the Troy, MI REI — 766 E Big Beaver Rd. Troy, MI.
  • Thursday, February 23 – Midtown Detroit
    Mixer and regional gathering from 5:30-7:30 pm at Traffic Jam and Snug — 511 W Canfield St. Detroit, MI.

Sayer will also be on the Craig Fahle Show on Thursday as well as (hopefully) many other media outlets, especially with it being Black History Month.

New bike tour loops

Always thinking for new excuses to bike tour, Adventure Cycling blogged about how this new route opens up some tour loop possibilities.

This tour could easily begin in Detroit, cross the border to Windsor, Ontario, ride south to Leamington or Kingsville, take a ferry to Sandusky, Ohio then ride northward to return to Detroit. The fly in the ointment in this idea, hence the Chance label, is that currently there is no way to ride your bicycle across the border between Detroit and Windsor. In order to do so, you’ll have to hire a taxi to take you and your bicycle from one country to the other. Todd Scott, Detroit Greenways Coordinator at the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance?suggests, “Another option is to use the Transit Windsor bus. They will allow bikes on the bus under some restrictive rules, however, the bus drivers do have some discretion. If the bus is not crowded and the bike can be secured on board, they may take you. If I were doing the route, I would try my darndest to get to Windsor. I just wouldn’t want to miss out on their UGRR history.” There are plans to add ferry service to this border crossing. When it is implemented, we’ll let you know.

To complete this 270 mile tour you’ll need UGRR Detroit Alternate Sections #1 & #2 maps.

Haunted bikes tours show Detroit isn’t that scary

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

This is a really interesting article from Wayne State University’s The South End.

While the article is primarily about the haunted bike tours offered through Wheelhouse Detroit, there is also a commentary on how bike tours can dispel Detroit stereotypes.

Scott Galbraith and Cathy Kester, who participated in the Haunted Detroit tour, come from the Lansing area to visit Detroit about once a week.

“We had been to a number of those places (on the tour) or driven by them and just seeing them at a different perspective outside on your bike and what not — they were all fun,” Kester said. “I think it’s good for the city, absolutely. It gives something else for people to do besides the sporting events and bars and restaurants, or casinos.”

Biking through the city on a tour also helps to defeat Detroit’s stereotype as being unsafe or completely rundown, Galbraith said.

“Detroit has a reputation,” he said. “The Cass Corridor is not the safest area, but to go through and feel safe and feel at ease and go through the park there, things like that, I guess it just gives you a new perspective that not everything you hear is always true and give it a chance.”

This Friday, October 28th is the next Detroit Critical Mass ride at 6:30pm from the corner Trumbull and Warren. Costumes are recommended.

Detroit bike lanes in the news

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The new bike lanes in Southwest Detroit have been getting of media coverage lately.

The Detroit News ran the article “Detroit becoming friendlier to bicyclists” last month.

Sarah Pappas, 27, who lives in the city’s Woodbridge neighborhood, commutes by bike to work in Corktown several times a week.

“Riding here is wonderful. There are hardly any cars around,” said Pappas, who moved to Detroit from New York earlier this year. “Even downtown after a (Tigers) game gets out isn’t bad compared to riding in lots of other places.”

The Detroit News article also included this video.

Yesterday, the Associated Press released an article on the bike lanes as well. It’s was picked up by the Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Fox 2 Detroit, and Crain’s Detroit.

[The bike lanes are] the first large scale segment of the city’s Urban Non-motorized Transportation Master Plan to be completed, said Scott Clein, executive vice president of Giffels-Webster, the civil engineering and surveying consulting firm on the project.

“Detroit has a strong bicycle community and there are a lot of bikers in this region,” Clein said. “You’ve got flat streets and the spirit of freedom to go wherever you want.” also covered the story.

And while not about the new bike lanes, this article from Akron’s Beacon Journal covers bicycle touring in Detroit. It really highlights the bike tourism potential for Detroit, which is largely being driven by Wheelhouse Detroit.

The Motor City rocks but it really rolls. On two wheels.

Pedal power is surprisingly big, and it’s growing in Detroit. And, no, bicyclists don?t have to speed to get away from roving gangs. That image of violent Detroit won?t die.

One way to see the new Detroit is on bicycle. It offers a way to get an intimate look at the Motor City with its great neighborhoods filled with stylish buildings.

Pilot ride on the Lake Erie Cycling Route

Friday, September 16th, 2011

On Monday, a group of cyclists rolled out of Windsor for a pilot ride on the proposed Lake Erie Cycling Route.

From the Windsor Star:

The project is being spearheaded by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, which has established a similar 900-kilometre signed route from the Niagara Region, along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, to the Quebec border. Also involved are the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, Transportation Options and the Carolinian Canada Coalition.

The goal is to establish a mapped and signed Lake Erie cycling route that will help attract cycling tourists and encourage local bicycle use, said Marlaine Kroehler, executive director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. It could be completed as early as 2013.

This new route is a mix of paved roads with some sections of unpaved rails-to-trails added — mostly the Chrysler Canada Greenway. This is one difference from the otherwise similar U.S. Bicycle Route System which keeps to paved surfaces.

Interestingly enough, the Chrysler Canada Greenway was perhaps less scenic than the road, which ran closer to the lake.

Some highlights along the first leg are Amherstberg and the Fort Malden National Historic Site; Ontario’s wine country; the John R. Park Homestead (no relation to Detroit’s John R. Williams); and the Point Pelee National Park. The latter is about 60 miles from Windsor.

The Lake Erie Cycling Route connects with the existing Waterfront Trail along Lake Ontario, which also connects with Quebec’s Route Verte. Yes, you’ll be able to ride from Windsor to Montreal along these cycling routes.

One bonus: The Bike Train means you don’t have to ride out and back. One could take the train and take the route backwards to Windsor.

For Detroit residents, having these mostly rural bike routes (and wineries) so close to the city is a real bonus. This is much closer (and much flatter) than Metro Detroit’s rural roads and much closer than the vineyards near Traverse City. Southeast Ontario drivers seems to be rather congenial as well. The biggest issue is once again, getting across the Detroit river without needing a car.

The Windsor Star published this follow up article with more details, including a discussion on the growing Detroit bicycle scene and the plans to build bike routes through the Motor City. Ignoring the Windsor Star’s inappropriate reference to “the poorest neighborhoods”, the article does capture the excitement of bicycling in the Windsor-Detroit area and the potential to grow the culture and cross-border tourism opportunities.