Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Detroit biking articles all over the local media

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

A couple weeks ago we wrote about seven different biking articles that ran in the Detroit media.

Well here’s another nine!

Cycling for Health

Our friend and longtime Detroit cyclist Cassandra Spratling wrote this article in the Detroit Free Press. The Daley’s adoption of biking as transportation — and how they lost 210 pounds between them — is quite a story.

When Don and Darla Daley dine at restaurants near their Royal Oak home, they no longer drive their car.

It’s the same with quick trips to the store or nearby Royal Oak Farmers Market. They hop on the bicycles they bought two years ago — their favorite form of recreation and exercise.

“I never thought I’d love it as much as I do,” Darla Daley says. “Other bikers wave at you. It’s just fun.”

There are other health success stories included here as well.

Cycling for Green Jobs

The Free Press also ran this story on Vanita Mistry and her Detroit Greencycle company that provides curbside recycling.

Four days a week before heading out to her day job, Mistry straps an 8-foot trailer to her mountain bike and pedals for several hours through a number of Detroit neighborhoods, including Clark Park, the Eastern Market district and Corktown to pick up recyclables and compost from her regular customers.

She totes twelve 18-gallon bins on her trailer, with a capacity to carry up to 300 pounds. Mistry separates plastic, cardboard, paper, glass and aluminum. She also collects composting material.

“I find that I’m driven more by public service and giving back,” Mistry said. “What motivates me is knowing I’m making a difference in the work I’m doing, and I’ve found that Greencycle is one of many ways I strive to make a difference in my community.”

Next, the Huffington Post continues their series on Detroit biking with an interesting look at the city’s bike messenger history.

CBS Detroit also joined in with this article on Shane O’Keefe’s Hot Spokes food delivery company.

O’Keefe said it’s sometimes a challenge to balance several meals inside his thermal bike box and his hands, but he does it. O’Keefe said they’ll deliver in any weather — even deep snow.

The last time they could not make a delivery was more than two winters ago during a major snow storm.

O’Keefe said he does not own a car and he’s glad he doesn’t have to pay for gas while trying to run a delivery business.

Critical Mass

Again, the Huffington Post published this article, Detroit Critical Mass Helps Area Cyclists Find Common Ground On City Streets. It accurately paints a mixed view on how successful this ride is. Interestingly, the critics aren’t motorists, but other Detroit cyclists. We’ve heard from critics of this popular ride as well: it’s too fast, too long, too organized, and it caters too much to suburban cyclists who drive to the city for the ride.

Ironically enough, the Detroit Critical Mass ride was moved to this location in part because of its free car parking. The bike lanes being installed this year eliminate much of that free parking. Will Critical Mass move again because of the bike lanes?

A View from Below

The Lakewood Observer from the Cleveland-area published, The Detroit Comparison: Sam Willsey’s Recent Cycling Experience. It’s an interesting article that gives the impression that Detroit is ahead of Cleveland in terms of adding bike lanes and trails. We’re not sure how both cities compare, but it seems we have much lower traffic on our streets.

The article does get a couple things wrong. We do have a bike advocacy group — the Detroit Greenways Coalition. And, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is not proposing or significantly funding these projects. Non-profits and the City are the ones proposing, while funding comes from a variety of state, local, and philanthropic sources.

A Bicycle Lending Library

Stories about Fender Bender’s plan for a community-based bike share program were published in both Mode Shift and the Huffington Post.

From Mode Shift:

Like any bike sharing program, The Bicycle Lending Library will rent bikes out from one to four days with the single-day rental being the most “expensive” and adding days will make the rental cheaper. [Sarah] Sidelko says the program is going to be very affordable, but does not have the specific dollar amounts worked out yet.

In addition to renting a bicycle, the Library will also lend out a helmet, a bike light and lock and a map of Detroit, which will have an emphasis on bike lanes and greenways, and will have other prominent destinations peppered in.

Detroit Cycling History

The Huffington Post rounded out their bike series by touching on the city’s rich cycling history. The article is primarily an interview with the Hub’s Jack Van Dyke.

And on a related note, the web site Roads were not Built for Cars ran this story on Henry Ford and his connection to cycling back in the day. The web site’s author Carlton Reid was recently in Detroit. We had the opportunity to give him a bike tour that connected our cycling history. During our ride he asked, “Are we downtown?”. Yes we were. It was midday on a Friday and the streets were ours. There was very little traffic. He was rather impressed and said, “This is the cycling city of the future.”

Another biking benefit: Reduced smoking

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

A study soon to be published found that pairing physical activity with counseling was more effective at curbing teen smoking than the counseling alone.

The study’s author Kimberly Horn said, “Physical activity, even in small or moderate doses, can greatly increase the odds of quitting.”

The Detroit Free Press reported a similar bicycling benefit in an 1895 article, “Tobacco and Wheels.”

If it is true, as the United State Tobacco Journal says, that the bicycle craze has emancipated half a million slaves of the smoking habit, that fact will go very far to strengthen the public belief that the bicycle is an excellent thing. The estimate of the Journal is that because the wheelmen cannot smoke while wheeling, half a million of them have reduced their consumption of at least two cigars a day… These figures. released by a collection of Tallahassee addiction centers, correspond with the actual decrease in the cigar production which it says has amounted to 700,000,000 cigars annually since the bicycle craze set in.

From the cigarmakers’ standpoint this is a gloomy picture; but the rest of the community, especially those who do not indulge in the cigar, and those who, even while they indulge, reprobate the habit, will hear the news with resignation, if not with positive joy.

We agree. The bicycle is an excellent thing — even 116 year later.

And while the bicycling craze was strong in Detroit at that time, so to was the cigar industry. Detroit was a major center for cigar manufacturing.

The Free Press article continued with perhaps a veiled attack on alcohol consumption.

There will be some regret, perhaps, that the bicycle craze does not operate to reduce the consumption of other things which are regarded as unnecessary or injurious.

As for the reduced production of 700 million cigars, the Internal Revenue department disagreed. They reported an increase in production which led the article to suggest that many bicyclers were learning to smoke while riding.

However, the article concluded by saying, “a good many of the victims of the craze are not smokers anyways and never were.”




Keep your sanity, commute by bike

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Reuters recently wrote about new research on the benefits of “green exercise.” Apparently just five minutes is all need, which is good news for bike commuters.

Researchers from the University of Essex found that as little as five minutes of a “green activity” such as walking, gardening, cycling or farming can boost mood and self esteem.

“We believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green exercise,” Barton said in a statement about the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Many studies have shown that outdoor exercise can reduce the risk of mental illness and improve a sense of well-being, but Jules Pretty and Jo Barton, who led this study, said that until now no one knew how much time needed to be spent on green exercise for the benefits to show.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars. Bike to Work day in Detroit is May 21st. You can start from Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe or Dearborn. All rides head to Campus Maritius.

Detroit gets Complete Streets grant

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Recently, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) received ARRA (economic stimulus) funding for Michigan to support local efforts to pass Complete Streets policies.

The purpose of this grant opportunity is to fund local health departments and one of their communities that are ready to work on passing a local Complete Streets ordinance. This is to support Michigan in having safer and connected communities in Michigan, increase assess to daily physical activity for transportation and recreation, and increase the physical activity levels in Michigan to reduce chronic disease and obesity in communities.

Grants up to $12,000 were available to five Michigan communities this year and another five next year.

The Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion (DHWP) applied for this funding. We learned this week that Detroit was among the five chosen.

There are many grant requirements, including passing a Complete Streets ordinance by January 31, 2011.

DWHP also applied for Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) funding through the Centers for Disease Control — also available through ARRA.

In Detroit’s application, much of that funding would go towards obesity prevention through building “Healthy Zone” neighborhoods which included active living and transportation. Unfortunately, Detroit was not chosen.

Nonetheless, it’s great to see another city department recognizing the need for better biking and walking in Detroit.

Keeping a tighter leash on kids in public

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

LiveScience has an interesting article, Kids Today on Tighter Leash, But Wild at Home. It suggests that today’s kids have less independent mobility, perhaps due in part to the bike unfriendly designs of newer communities.

Parents today give their children more freedom at home but keep them on a tighter leash in public, a new study finds. This is the reverse of what was considered good parenting in the early half of the last century, the researcher showed.

The loss of public freedom could reflect social changes, including the current design of towns and suburbs, which focus mostly on the convenience of auto traffic, not kids.

In the early 20th century, advice columns tended to promote obedience, with children listening to parents regarding diet, appearance and other personal matters.

While tightening the leashes at home, parents often gave their kids free rein outside, allowing them to play sports, ride bikes and toddler scooters, buses and subways all over town, and even hitch rides.

The Free Press recently published a similar article, Fear and technology are keeping kids indoors.

U.S. children spend 50% less time outdoors than they did 20 years ago, says the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

The lack of running or biking or splashing around in the sprinkler is one likely factor in rising childhood obesity rates, said education professor Rhonda Clements, who conducted a 2004 study, “An Investigation on the Status of Outdoor Play,” for Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. In it, 85% of mothers reported their children spend less time playing outside than they did growing up.

This reduction in child mobility is also reflected in the number of kids walking or biking to school.

From a 2004 CDC study,

  • In 1969, 42 percent of children 5 to 18 years of age walked or bicycled to school. In 2001, only 16 percent did.
  • In 1969, 87 percent of children 5 to 18 years of age who lived within one mile of school walked or bicycled to school. In 2001, only 63 percent did.

The distances to schools and the traffic-related dangers were most often cited as barriers.

While the Safe Routes to School initiatives are addressing these barriers, it’s really something all of us need to keep pushing.

We need Complete Streets and well-designed communities that accomodate safe accessibility and mobility for future generations of kids — and that don’t require parent chauffeurs.