If a bunch of cycle fans have their way, Detroit will become a bicycle mecca if only for one day a year. On the morning of Friday, May 19, Detroit Bikes! is challenging commuters to trade their six-cylinders for 10-speeds and a mass trek downtown for Bike to Work Day.
In a place the world knows as the Motor City, it may seem counterintuitive, but these pedal-pushers have a point: Detroit is a great place to cycle, as the tandem trends of road-building and depopulation have left bicyclists with plenty of options. From spoke roads to secondary thoroughfares, there's always a way to get there without dodging cars. And though Detroit may not be as walkable as New York or Chicago, bikes add just enough range to make them desirable for the D's denizens.
"This is especially important in light of the fact that we've been considered one of the fattest cities in the country," Detroit Bikes! organizer Alex Froehlich says.
The ride is a project of Detroit Synergy, which aims to promote a favorable view of Detroit. In the past, they've sponsored fun runs, pub crawls, dinner clubs and other events to get people walking around the city, where they could see things. The bike event is a natural fit for the group.
Froehlich says, "Going through a city at 40 mph, you don't get a sense of what's there, what quality of life exists. You never see the details. When we ride as cyclists, our perceptions are challenged by this new way of seeing." The event promises to be lawful, orderly and fun. Organizers want everyone to wear a helmet, and the procession will observe all traffic laws.
Froehlich hopes the event will inspire others to imitate it next year.
"This is the first one. We're trying to start a tradition. It has the potential to be bigger, and I'm hoping people take it upon themselves, and say, 'I want to organize my own ride next year.'"
Begins at Farmers' Market in Royal Oak at 6:45 a.m. and makes five stops before arriving at 8:15 a.m. in Campus Martius. (Troy Street parking lot in Ferndale, around 7; Woodward entrance to State Fairgrounds, 7:15; Second Avenue in Highland Park, 7:30; Second Avenue and West Grand Boulevard in New Center, 7:50; Wayne State University Welcome Center, 8.) Return trip begins at Campus Martius at 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit detroitsynergy.org or e-mail [email protected].Michael Jackman is the copy editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]