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Old 04-02-13, 04:31 PM   #1
spartan30
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Day ride: Lansing to Detroit (St. Clair Shores)

Hey all, I've convinced a few buddies of mine that we should do an all day ride from East Lansing to Detroit (partly for fun, partly for a charity). Most seemed pumped about the adventure but a few are worried that we'll end up in a bad neighborhood and get shot / stabbed / mugged / etc. I'm guessing biking through during the day is fairly safe but if there are any knowledgeable Detroit bikers out there I would love to know:

(1) If we stay north of I-696 and head to St. Clair Shores instead of downtown, do we avoid all those "bad neighborhoods" and just hit safe (boring) suburbs?

(2) If I can convince them to be a bit daring and head towards downtown, are there areas I should definitely avoid because of crime or traffic?

Thanks in advance!


(FYI: I already downloaded the Muskegon to Detroit map from the League of Michigan Bicyclists and am just looking for a 2nd opinion)
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Old 04-03-13, 05:23 PM   #2
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Hello,


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.

Dave
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Old 04-03-13, 09:16 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input, DTown, you're one step ahead of me!

I started off by calling up the League of Michigan Bicyclists and chatting with some of the staff at a local bike shop here in Lansing. This thread was my second idea and I was going to progress to calling Detroit bike shops after that. I was hoping for enough responses here to bypass the last option, but its looking like I might have to be a bit more pro-active.

Hadn't thought of critical mass and other Detroit cycling groups on Facebook, sounds like a good idea!
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Old 04-03-13, 11:18 PM   #4
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Can't help much, but my last bike ride though downtown Detroit was on my way from Grosse Pointe to Metro Airport at about 4 in the morning to catch an early flight home. Didn't notice any bad neighborhoods along the way, but then my 1-W headlight wasn't exactly illuminating a wide swath. Coming from Lansing I'd probably aim to get on Hines Dr. as a nice scenic route into Dearborn and then work my way over to the river front area - but I have no idea of which particular roads or neighborhoods would be best.
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Old 04-04-13, 10:05 AM   #5
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Detroit is a great cycling venue - really. I lived in Detroit from '50 until '93 and now live in one of the near western suburbs, but my brother, former business partner and several friends still reside in Detroit.

Keep in mind , that you won't be riding through any "neighborhoods" per se - you're riding on main thoroughfares. Traffic is light, and there are huge swaths of the city that are more like rural areas with all the unused housing that has been torn down. What appears in pictures as ugly vacant lots (and indeed entire vacant city blocks) at bike-level become peaceful meadows. I've done Critical Mass rides and the Tour de Troit for the last four years which are done entirely in the central city. A great destination would be Belle Isle which gives you a great loop right in the middle of the Detroit river.

Staying no further south than I-696 will guarantee you stay in the almost monocultural white-bread northern suburbs, but you'll have a much more interesting ride if you go through Downtown.

There is an informal group that I'm planning on hooking up with that meet up every Saturday AM from April to October at Historic Fort Wayne and depart @ 6:30 for a 30-miler through Downtown Detroit, finishing up at a Mexican Town restaurant for breakfast:

http://www.beatthetrain.org/about.asp
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Old 04-04-13, 03:15 PM   #6
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to Metro Airport at about 4 in the morning to catch an early flight home.
Biking to the airport sounds so badass. I'll have to try this someday.
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Old 04-04-13, 03:20 PM   #7
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I've done Critical Mass rides and the Tour de Troit for the last four years which are done entirely in the central city. A great destination would be Belle Isle which gives you a great loop right in the middle of the Detroit river.
So maybe it would be wise to stay right along the river all the way up to St. Clair Shores? I'm just worried about geting dead-ended by interstates near downtown.
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Old 04-04-13, 09:36 PM   #8
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Biking to the airport sounds so badass. I'll have to try this someday.
Here's my bike and trailer shortly after I rolled into the North Terminal bldg. last Nov. Both the bike and the trailer parts fit inside the Carlton suitcase sitting on top of the trailer frame and it gets checked as one piece of regular luggage (Southwest still lets you check two bags with no extra charge).



Have fun on your ride to Detroit - should be good.
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Old 04-05-13, 07:52 AM   #9
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So maybe it would be wise to stay right along the river all the way up to St. Clair Shores? I'm just worried about geting dead-ended by interstates near downtown.
Plan your route and you won't have any problem. There are no major thoroughfares that will dead-end you at an interstate.

This route would be great - doesn't take you too far out of your way, gives you a beautiful pass through the center of the city as well as a really nice 14-mile run through Hines Park on the MUP.
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Old 04-05-13, 12:16 PM   #10
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I guess it depends on whether the stereotypes of Detroit crime are scarier to your group than the actual safety issues of suburban motorists. Most serious Detroit crime happens between people who know each other. If you bike in a group, you can ride anywhere in the city and be safe. I've been riding everywhere and all times of the day since the 90s -- usually by myself -- and have yet to have a safety issue. Now in the suburbs, I have safety issues on a regular basis that threaten bodily harm.
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Old 04-05-13, 12:46 PM   #11
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I guess it depends on whether the stereotypes of Detroit crime are scarier to your group than the actual safety issues of suburban motorists. Most serious Detroit crime happens between people who know each other. If you bike in a group, you can ride anywhere in the city and be safe. I've been riding everywhere and all times of the day since the 90s -- usually by myself -- and have yet to have a safety issue. Now in the suburbs, I have safety issues on a regular basis that threaten bodily harm.
+1 to that!!

To me, that's what's so nice about riding in the city. The 'burbs are wall-to-wall vehicles, no bike lanes, no consideration given to anything other than motorized vehicles. While you will find some bike lanes in the central city, in many places it's not necessary because you don't have the vehicular gridlock you have in the suburbs - there's plenty of room so you - especially if you're in a small group - can take over a lane and everyone has plenty of room to maneuver.

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Old 04-07-13, 04:09 PM   #12
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CBS just published this article on the best rides in the city. It's a pretty good introductory guide to someone looking to begin riding in Detroit.
http://detroit.cbslocal.com/top-list...es-in-detroit/
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