Cities of the future will be accessible, people friendly and have healthy inhabitants. That’s what we want for Detroit. As the city grows one of the best ways to ensure all three and a continuation of its revitalization is creating a bicycle friendly infrastructure and culture. It will bring more residents into the city, grow businesses, create jobs, increase property values, make residents healthier, attract in more tourists and make Detroit even more fun.
Investing in a walkable, bikeable Detroit is time and money well spent. A 2012 Portland study showed bicyclists tend to spend more at businesses than drivers. According to 2011 University of Massachusetts study, bike lane construction ranked first in job creation among public works projects when comparing jobs created to tax dollars spent.
There is also a direct correlation between home values and the distance from a cycling infrastructure. A 2008 study by the University of Cincinnati says housing prices went up by $9 for every foot closer to the trail entrance. The study said for the average home, homeowners were willing to pay a $9,000 premium to be located 1,000 feet closer to a bike trail.
For the price of one mile of four-lane urban highway hundreds of miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure can be built.
That’s the bikenomics of it. Here is what Detroit has done to become a bike friendly city.
We have our own bikes.
Shinola bikes are built in the USA and hand-assembled in Detroit. Earlier this year they took their line of luxury hand-built bikes across the country to give people a chance to see what’s been made in Detroit.
The Detroit Bicycle Company builds custom hand-crafted bicycles here. They are low-volume and, like Shinola, expensive. They’ve been called retro jewels. The bikes have Detroit names like Trumbull St., Cass Ave., Madison Ave. Woodbridge St., Russell St. and Jefferson Ave.
Detroit Bikes created its A-Type prototype in a coach house off Woodward Avenue, a couple of blocks from where Henry Ford once lived. They now build the bikes on Detroit’s west side.
These bikes and others can be ridden on beautiful bike paths and new bike lanes on our city streets. Detroit has gone from almost no bicycle lanes five years ago to 154 miles today. New bike paths are coming as well including the extension of the Dequindre Cut and the 26-mile walking and biking path called the Inner Circle Greenway that will link Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park and Dearborn. It will join together the Dequindre Cut, Detroit RiverWalk and Southwest Detroit greenways with a number of others being built.
There are also plenty of tours for residents and visitors.
Slow Roll, a group bicycle ride in Detroit, meets every Monday night in Detroit. Slow Roll has become Michigan’s largest weekly bike ride. It is also becoming one of the largest weekly bikes rides in the world. There are rides scheduled through the end of October.
The yearly Tour de Troit bike ride explores some of Detroit’s historic areas and other sights.
Motor City Brew Tours offers history-themed guided tours in Detroit from May – September.
Don’t have a bike? Wheelhouse Detroit rents cruisers, sport and comfort hybrids, road bikes, tandems and adult tricycles as well as accessories like tag-a-longs, baby seats and trailers. You can go it alone or take one of their guided tours to look at Detroit architecture, public art, automotive heritage, Eastern Market or other neighborhoods and urban agriculture or ask for a customized tour.
Bikes are also being used to teach Detroit youth leadership qualities. Back Alley Bikes helps them find transportation, learn responsibility and new skills as they earn a bike by fixing up donated bicycles. The Hub of Detroit, a bicycle repair shop, grew out of Back Alley Bikes. It offers a mechanic-in-training program.
Detroit is indeed on the cusp of becoming one of the great bicycle cities in the nation. It will be good for all of us. Ride on!
— This blog also appeared in Detroit 2.0.