Posts Tagged ‘Edward N. Hines’

Woodward: the first mile of concrete highway

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Woodward celebration

A cake in need of a Blumenauer bike pin

The Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) had a ceremony today to celebrate the 100th anniverary of the world’s first mile of concrete highway. That first mile was Woodward Avenue from McNichols to Seven Mile Road in Detroit. It was just 18 feet wide.

This historic milestone was very much the result of decades of tireless work, often led by bicyclists such as Horatio “Good Roads” Earle and Edward Hines. WA3 was generous enough to let me briefly speak at today’s event to highlight the cyclists’ role in this project and the Good Roads movement.

Hines, former chief consul for the League of American Wheelmen Michigan Division was a Wayne County road commissioner (along with Cass Benton and Henry Ford.) He helped oversee this project. Back in 1893, he helped create legislation that enabled county road commissions.

Earle followed Hines as Chief Consul of the Wheelmen before becoming a state senator and our first state highway commissioner. He founded both MDOT and the American Road Builders Association. The National Cement Association called Earle the “Father of the Concrete Roads of the World.”

For this Woodward paving project, Earle helped secure Wayne County’s bond and completed the approval inspection on June 21, 1909.

It’s highly ironic that some motorists question cyclists rights to the roads when we were there first and literally paving the way for improved motoring.

Moving Forward

In speaking today, I also noted that we got stuck focusing exclusively on automobiles for some time and that’s now changing. Detroit’s non-motorized master plan calls for bike lanes on Woodward. WA3 has contracted Giffels-Webster for non-motorized planning along Woodward from Eight Mile to Maple.

And we are closer than ever to getting light rail on Woodward.

I told the crowd this means “giving people more transportation options,” which elicited perhaps the biggest cheer of event.


So, if you go for a ride today, make sure you thank Mr. Earle and Mr. Hines for the smooth ride beneath your tires.

And here’s an Earlism to consider: “One anvil outlasts hundreds of hammers. If you are anvil-like, a little hammering will not hurt you.”

Hines: Bike Path vs. On-Road

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

We recently received an email from an active cyclist in California.  Their relatives in Southeast Michigan could not understand why Hines Drive bicyclists were on the road shoulder instead of the parallel bike path.  She wondered if we could provide an answer.

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To an experienced cyclist, the reasons seem quite apparent.  Riding on the Hines Drive’s wide paved shoulder is:

  • Faster and more direct
  • Much safer at the intersections
  • Free of pedestrians (which you must yield to on the bike path)
  • Better lit at night
  • Plowed of snow and ice in the winter
  • Less flooded after a rain
  • Has less debris (e.g. rocks) that can cause flat tires

Besides, the road lanes are wide, the paved shoulders are generous, and the speed limit is low.  And due to the lack of commercial/residential access along the road, it is absolutely an ideal place to ride a bike.

If motorists can’t safely share this roadway with cyclists then they probably shouldn’t be driving.

Coincidentally in 2004 I was asked a similar question while giving testimony before the House Transportation Committee in Lansing.  Hines Drive passed through one of the committee member’s districts.

We should also mention that Edward Hines, whom the road is named after, was Chief Consul of the League of American Wheelmen in Michigan (forerunner of the League of American Bicyclists), as well as a major “Good Roads” advocate.  Hines invented the double-yellow center line, pioneered snowplowing roads, and created the first mile of concrete pavement.  Hines is just another famous Michigan bicyclist that all road users can thank.