Posts Tagged ‘Underground Railroad’

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.

New Underground Railroad Bicycle Route map released

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Adventure Cycling has just announced a new addition to their Underground Railroad Bicycle Route (UGRR). Currently the route begins in Mobile, Alambama and heads north to Oberlin, Ohio before turning east and crossing into Canada at Buffalo.

MTGA worked with Adventure Cycling and others folks — including descendants of those who used the Underground Railroad — to add a 281.4-mile route from Oberlin, Ohio to Detroit, Marine City and Sombra, Ontario.

The map for this route is now available. The cost is $11.75 for Adventure Cycling members and $14.75 for non-members.

This alternate, beginning in Oberlin, Ohio, takes cyclists around the western side of Lake Erie through historically rich Michigan. There are many sites to visit in the towns that the route goes through. In Michigan the route becomes much more urban. Because there is no bicycle-friendly connection between Detroit and Windsor the route crosses into Canada north of these cities, which were both important sites to freedom seekers.

The route does offer a balance between connecting the many historic UGRR sites while also providing a reasonable bicycle route. In other words, it doesn’t visit all the historic sites nor is it the most direct.

Within the city of Detroit, the route takes advantage of the new bike lanes installed on West Vernor and Michigan Avenue. It passes many historic UGRR sites, including the Finney Barn, Second Baptist Church, and Elmwood Cemetery.

The route also passes near the Hostel Detroit, which is expected to be a popular lodging option for cycling tourists.

MTGA continues to push for passenger ferry service to Windsor, Ontario that will accommodate cyclists. Currently cyclists need a motor vehicle to get to Windsor via the Tunnel or Ambassador Bridge. The route does provide an option for continuing north to Marine City where existing ferry service can transport cyclists to Canada.

A companion map showing the route through Ontario is under development now and is expected to be available by February 2012.

For those seeking a less ambitious bicycling tour, a 13-mile UGRR route within the city of Detroit has been developed. Brochures showing that route are also in the works.

And, the Wheelhouse Detroit offers UGRR tours throughout the summer as well though this year’s remaining tour is sold out. (Disclaimer: I lead those.)

Cycling and Underground Railroad tours this weekend

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
  1. There are two Wheelhouse bicycle tours this weekend in UK which are both fundraisers for MTGA.

The first is Saturday, July 9th at 1pm and its theme is the early cycling history.

Automotive history was made possible by its deep roots in the world of bicycles! Visit the home of Horatio “Good Roads” Earle, the site of both Wheelmen clubhouses, the Metzger bicycle shop, the Morgan & Wright tire company, the Bicycle Pavilion on Belle Isle and the home of Fords Quadricycle you can now buy with the help from this used quad bike finance program. Tour will be led by Todd Scott, the Greenways Coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. Community Partner: Trails and Greenways Alliance.

The second is on Sunday, July 10th at 1pm and will tour Underground Railroad historic sites.

It was an important station on the Underground Railroad, and the final American stop prior to freedom across the River in Canada for many escaped slaves. We will visit the Underground Railroad memorial sculpture on the River Walk, historic Second Baptist Church, and the Underground Railroad Living Museum at the First Congregational Church.


Bicycle-friendly hostel opens in Detroit

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Hostel Detroit is having its grand opening this Sunday, April 17th.

This is the only hostel in all of Michigan and just the second among the Rust Belt cities. (Chicago being the other.)

According to their web site, Hostel Detroit is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose main purpose is “providing safe, affordable accommodations in Detroit while educating patrons about the city.”

They also offer option bicycle rentals.

Detroit Moxie has a great article on this new lodging option in the North Corktown neighborhood. They quote Emily Doerr, the “force and passion” behind the hostel.

It’ll be cool for people to know that they can come, they can have a place to stay that’s clean, safe, affordable, and that’s not going to break the bank, but also can be this access point to all this other stuff in the city. When you travel you don’t need to print a map of the city, you just need to get to the hostel and they’ll take care of you.

People say that [Detroit] is a city of hidden gems and that it’s an insider city. It’s time for us to be a little more accessible.

While hostel-style lodging isn’t ideal for everyone, it is ideal for many bike tourists. Fortunately the Hostel is located along the proposed Underground Railroad Bicycle Route and will perhaps be along one or more future U.S. Bicycle Routes passing through Detroit.

U.S. Bicycle Route 20

And speaking of U.S. Bicycle Routes in Michigan, Crain’s Detroit Business has an article on them, but most specifically the soon-to-be-approved Route 20.

When approved in early May, Michigan will “become the first state in 30 years to get a new U.S. Bike Route.”

U.S. Bicycle Route 20 crosses east-west through the middle of the mitten, running between Ludington and Marine City. Eventually this route will continue west to Eugene, Oregon.

In case you were wondering, the route uses a ferry to cross Lake Michigan to reach Wisconsin.

Adventure Cycling director to speak in Midtown

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Photo by Adventure_Cycling Association/Dennis Coello

Jim Sayer, the executive director of Adventure Cycling will be speaking in Midtown this Wednesday, March 23rd at 7pm. This event is also supported by the Wheelhouse Detroit and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

If you can’t make this, Jim is also speaking in Ann Arbor on Thursday and at the Michigan Bike Summit in Lansing on Saturday.

Here’s more information:

Join Adventure Cycling Association — North America’s largest cycling membership group — for a special presentation by Executive Director Jim Sayer on the joys of bicycle travel and cool projects happening at the national and state levels. He’ll touch on new bicycle routes and maps coming from Adventure Cycling (including the new Sierra Cascades route, a planned Bicycle Route 66, and a new Underground Railroad alternate route through Michigan), a new website with resources on “bike overnights”, plus a status report on development of the official U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS).

Join us on Wednesday, March 23, from 7-8:45 pm, at the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Hall of Nations Room: 111 E. Kirby Detroit, MI 48202 (This building is on the northeast corner of the Detroit Institute of Arts.)

For more information on getting there to:

Please RSVP by  email or calling me, Sarah Raz, at 800-755-2453 x 210. We also encourage you to invite friends or family.

We are looking for a few volunteers to help with the event. Please contact me ( if you are willing and able to assist!

Thanks and hope to see you there.

Happy riding,

Sarah Raz
Adventure Cycling Association
800-755-2453 x 210