Thatís good you have plans to go on such a ride. Iíll save the poking fun at some of your friends if they are being at least mostly serious, but offer my opinion.
I donít live in Detroit, but I donít think Detroit is quite as safe as some people might want to believe. More importantly though: I donít think itís as unsafe as many
more people think it is, at least in regards to crime.
One thing thatís been written about, is in at least regards to traffic and road conditions, within Detroitís city limits, itís pretty fair these days. Much decreased population which can result in de facto bike lanes + relatively decent physical road conditions.
My own $.02
I live in the suburbs Southwest of Detroit by a good 15 miles, so I donít venture out that far into the northern and western areas of Detroit really.
Given that, in addition to getting input to forums, which are convenient and can be helpful, here is what Iíd try if you havenít thought of it and have the time; look into various sources of input from where youíre riding.
There is a thread about someone looking for bike shops on the West side of Detroitóperhaps some of the more favorable suggestions about bike shops would be a good shop to check into. Iím guessing how active owners/ workers within shops and the patrons are, in regards to riding on the streets and roads varies (itís rare for me to see people riding period, in the suburbs I live in, much less so on the roads), but that is the first source I can think of.
You could even type and then copy and paste a script and email it to various bike shops instead of taking time calling various shops to try to get some info and insightólacking that option, try calling and using the script to make sure you remember the main points.
Group rides are becoming more popular in Detroit as well. Look them up and touch base with them. Detroit Critical Massís Facebook page would be an additional source of online advice. Since people might be more inclined to give more input in an alternative setting other than a Facebook group message box, you could even create an email just for the purpose of this ride, title it: Lansing2DetroitonOnABike@gmail.com
or the like. Then just offer the alternative of one being able to email you. The email is perhaps unnecessary, but itís just a thought, since a ride that far is not a journey, but itís surely no small undertaking.
This isnít meant as a direct criticism, nor am I implying youíre not putting nor interested in, putting in the time, but it may take a fair amount of time to gather input from people, so be patientóit very well may be worth it.