Posts Tagged ‘Underground Railroad’

Ferrying bicyclists across the Detroit River

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

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.

Underground Railroad bicycle route gets a $20K boost

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

As mentioned before, the Adventure Cycling Association with help from MTGA and others are developing an Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. This route would be a 400-mile spur from the existing 2,100-mile route running from Alabama, through Buffalo, NY to Ontario.

Bicycle Retailer magazine is reporting that Adventure Cycling just received a $20K grant from REI to continue this routing effort.

The 400-mile alternate will run between Oberlin, Ohio, and Owen Sound, Ontario, according to a press release. Highlights on the new route include the historically rich communities of Sandusky, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan.

Running through northwestern Ohio, southern Michigan, and southern Ontario, the new cycling route will create a cultural heritage corridor centered on the storied Underground Railroad, offering education and recreational opportunities for people of all ages.

The article also recognizes the recent bike efforts in the city of Detroit.

An important highlight on the new route, Detroit has increasingly invested in bike lanes, greenways, urban agriculture, and natural parks. This cycling route will capitalize on these local efforts through tourism and outreach projects such as club rides, youth involvement, and health and history events at libraries, museums, and other sites after the route is completed.

Adventure Cycling has pulled together a very knowledgeable and passionate group of Underground Railroad stakeholders. Combined with the organization’s vast experience, this new route promises to be an exciting addition for cyclists wanting to combine history and bike touring.

National Bike Summit: a Detroit perspective

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The 10th National Bike Summit in Washington DC was last week. This three day event was a great opportunity to learn the latest on bike advocacy issues, lobby Congress, and network with peers.

I was attending this wearing a two main MTGA hats: Detroit Greenways Coordinator and Michigan Airline Trail Ambassador.

My highlight was Thursday morning. We had a group breakfast for last minute legislative updates and some cheerleading prior to our Congressional office visits. I was waiting behind this older gentleman for coffee. Being a bit impatient, I asked if I could cut in front. He poured my coffee and I said “Thanks”. It was then that I realized Congressman James Oberstar — one of the key bike supporters in DC and chair of the House Transportation committee — had just poured my coffee.

It was going to be a great day!


Adventure Cycling: Detroit and the Underground Railroad

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

The Adventure Cycling blog talks about a recent visit to Detroit to discuss a new Underground Railroad bicycle route. This route will be a spur off their existing Underground Railroad route. The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is assisting in this effort.

Now, at the urging of the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program (and with support from Adventure Cycling members), we’re pleased to say we’ll be expanding the Underground Railroad Route once more — to south eastern Michigan (including Detroit) and south western Ontario (including the Buxton Historic Site).

There is an intense amount of passion in Detroit for this history. I witnessed a small sampling during my visit. The Michigan Freedom Trails Commission and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will play an important role in helping us incorporate the best sites and history into this route, and cycling advocates will help us ensure the route stays true to the Adventure Cycling standards of scenic and safe roads and trails.

Though there’s a lot of work to be done to get this route from concept to map, I am honored, once again, to be working with dedicated people on something that will bring economic and active transportation opportunities to a city once known as the Paris of the Midwest.

Read the entire Adventure Cycling article

Detroit Meeting to discuss Underground Railroad

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Underground Railroad memorial on the Detroit RiverWalk near Hart PlazaCelebrate Detroit’s Underground Railroad history with the Adventure Cycling Association, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance and the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission.

Learn about Adventure Cycling’s Underground Railroad Route, updates on greenways and trails in the Detroit hub, and the Freedom Trail Commission’s efforts to designate the Detroit River as an International Heritage Site. Join us as we celebrate Detroit’s cultural heritage!

Bring friends, family, and fellow cyclists.

Historic Second Baptist Church
441 Monroe Street, Detroit

October 29, 2009  5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Please RSVP by October 23rd to Beth Petersen: 800.755.2453 x 211 or

Note that the current Underground Railroad bicycle route doesn’t go through Michigan. We are looking at adding a spur from Ohio to Detroit to Windsor and beyond. This certainly makes it all the more important that we have a way for cyclists to safely and conveniently cross the Detroit River.