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Riding through Detroit

Old 02-03-18, 07:23 AM
  #26  
oddjob2
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I have lived in southeastern Michigan since 1982, 30 years in Ann Arbor, and 5 in Grosse Pointe. I have been sailing with Bayview Yacht Club, at the foot of Conner, since 1987.

Never did I think I would ride a bike or have any interest in downtown Detroit until about 2011. Now I ride through Jefferson Chalmers to Bayview without a thought.

Since living in GP, I have Slow Rolled, visited Belle Isle, River Walk, Comerica Park on opening day, Mexican Town, Midtown, Indian Village, Corktown, Eastern Market, and New Center, via bike.

During daylight hours, I would say there are NO concerns of riding west to east between Mexican Town all the way to Grosse Pointe. I would avoid being on the road before 9:00 am or 4:00-5:30 pm to avoid commuters.

There are a lot of cool Airbnb places to stay. If you need recommendations let me know. If you want some company I can meet you at Jefferson and Alter and a meandering ride through the Grosse Pointes.

Last edited by oddjob2; 02-03-18 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 02-03-18, 08:17 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
I have lived in southeastern Michigan since 1982, 30 years in Ann Arbor, and 5 in Grosse Pointe. I have been sailng out of Bayview Yacht Club, at the foot of Conner, since 1987.

Never did I think I would ride a bike or have any interest in downtown Detroit until about 2011. Now I ride through Jefferson Chalmers to Bayview without athought.

Since living in GP, I have Slow Rolled, visited Belle Isle, River Walk,Comerica Park on opening day, Mexican Town, Midtown, Indian Village, Corktown,Eastern Market, and New Center, via bike.

During daylight hours, I would say there are NO concerns of riding west to east between Mexican Town all the way to Grosse Pointe. I would avoid being on the road before 9:00 am or 4:00-5:30 pm to avoid commuters...

If you want some company I can meet you at Jefferson and Alter and a meandering ride through the Grosse Pointes.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Though I have lived in Boston for many years, I’m a native of Detroit City Proper, East Side near the City Airport and most of the family is now in Macomb and Oakland Counties. I visit a couple times a year with my bike. It was nostalgic to read these descriptions of riding there, and accurate IMO
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
My first century, actually a double, was in 1971. The Wolverine Sports Club puts on an annual double century on Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River with a five mile perimeter, so the 24 hour double century is 40 laps

...My roommate and I decided to do it, with no training, and me on my Schwinn Suburban and he on his Varsity.
Hi @oddjob2,

I enjoy reading your posts since I have had seemingly similar living / cycling experiences.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…Back in the 60’s in the Motor City, I had an “English Racer," and longed to tour at about age 14, but then joined the car culture. In Ann Arbor MI in the 70’s I really realized the utility of bicycles for commuting, and began touring on a five-speed Schwinn Suburban, but soon bought a Mercier as did my girlfriend, later my wife. We toured in Michigan and Ontario.

In 1977 we moved to Boston on our bikes, as a bicycling honeymoon from Los Angeles to Washington, DC and then took the train up to Boston…
For a few years I lived in the Cass Corridor, and cycled down around there. I used to consider the Grosse Pointes as a public cycling park. We go visit Michigan about twice a year, and I bring my bike. Maybe we could do a ride.

Likewise,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…In a similar manner, I have previously written an informal Cycling Guide to Metro Boston (link) if anyone ever comes to visit. In fact, feel free to look me up, best with a day or two notice. I really enjoy having visitors, especially from Michigan. I‘ve made several Michigan acquaintances here in Boston, and I like to say that Michiganders always seem to find each other.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 02-10-18 at 06:09 AM.
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Old 02-07-18, 07:25 AM
  #28  
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FYA, this thread started yesterday on the Living Car Free Forum, "6 months in Detroit without a car." Though Detroit was a great place to grow up and come of age in the 1950's and 60's, my discontent in the 1970's was that I needed a car to get around.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…Back in the 60’s in the Motor City, I had an “English Racer,’ and longed to tour at about age 14, but then joined the car culture. In Ann Arbor MI in the 70’s I really realized the utility of bicycles for commuting, and began touring…
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I was dimly aware of a competitve racing culture even in Detroit in the 1970’s...though not interested in participating…Detroit did produce some National Champions, and Olympian cyclists in that era, including Sheila Young who I found out later grew up in my neighborhood.
I even had attended a cycling seminar by Mike Walden of the Wolverine Sports Club, and was a charter member of the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I was a member of the Ann Arbor Bicycling Touring Society circa 1970-72 and I've tried to find out if it was the direct progenitor of the current same-named and active Society. Darryl Barton was the Organizer back then but I've not spoken to her since 1980. Through my inquiries I found the name of one current member with whom I rode at that time.

Our organized rides were some overnight trips to local state parks back then. We didn't have computer odometers, but rather simple counters with metallic strikers attached to a spoke. One of our members was a high tech nuclear engineer (nick-named "Bear") and his elegant modification was to fashion a hard nylon striker and eliminate the annoying click-click-click-click...
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Old 02-07-18, 03:54 PM
  #29  
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As long as you stay aware of your surroundings at all times, you'll be fine in Detroit during the day. That said, if you see something that doesn't look quite right, fight your curiousity and keep moving. Don't get in the middle of someone else's problem and don't expect the police to come to your rescue.
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Old 02-10-18, 06:30 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
FYA, this thread started yesterday on the Living Car Free Forum, "6 months in Detroit without a car."
Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Here is the real issue: Either a person thinks that whole article is fake, or a person thinks it is mostly accurate.

Why anyone would doubt that there might be some nice sections of Detroit ....based on a few pictures .... whatever. I don't let the media think for me.

I used to live in Mouse Town, in Florida. If you ever see anything in the media about the city, (or any other city adjacent to Disneyworkld) you would thinkthe whole state is vacation Paradise…

At the same time, there were places in Orlando---some very close to downtown,six blocks from downtown, where I learned not to because there were gangs of punks who would cause trouble. …On the other hand, I walked or biked 97 percent of the city and some of what good, some great, some very gentrified andbig-bucks upscale….

No one thinks the pictures of Detroit's bad sections are faked .... but no one shows the same sections for All cities I have been in .... and I have seen the bad side of a lot of cities…

I have been robbed in Boston, seen the worst sides of New York ..... but If I said I bike commuted in any of those cities everyone would understand I didn't mean the most dangerous neighborhoods.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I perked up when I read that, and I googled murders in the (tony) Back Bay, and there were a good number, especially in the hours of darkness.

During the early morning after dawn I will ride through some reputably “bad” areas in Boston, yet I won’t ride on a darkened MUP in some“nice” ones.

There was this recent thread on the Great Lakes Regional Discusssion Forum,"Riding through Detroit", with some sage replies...

I have not quoted the many specific routes and sights touted on that thread, or more which I know personally (link).
FYA, My reply to @Maeloch’s; post on the Living Car Free Forum quoted many of the posts to this Regional Discussion Forum thread.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 02-10-18 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 02-14-18, 08:44 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Hi @oddjob2,

I enjoy reading your posts since I have had seemingly similar living / cycling experiences.For a few years I lived in the Cass Corridor, and cycled down around there. I used to consider the Grosse Pointes as a public cycling park. We go visit Michigan about twice a year, and I bring my bike. Maybe we could do a ride.

Likewise,
Jim, I would be happy to do a ride with you when you visit.
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Old 02-14-18, 08:53 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
Jim, I would be happy to do a ride with you when you visit.
Likely this summer and/or early fall.
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Old 02-14-18, 09:52 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Silverexpress View Post
1. Groups of 2 or more teenagers with baggy clothing and or hoodies.
- arguing, yelling, and generally being obnoxious are tell tale signs that someone will pull out a gun and start shooting. Not at you, but you could get caught in the crossfire.
- Alcohol is a big
warning to stay away.
2. If you somehow end up in a Detroit neighborhood and find a house with a half dozen cars parked on the lawn side to side with their front ends facing the street. Scoot like crazy.
3. Chances of you having a run in with the dark side are fairly low. However, I would suggest that you visit a local gun range, so you can become acquainted with the sound of gunfire. You would more than likely not be a target, but it's an experience you'll take with you wherever you go. Most pistols are hard to aim at 25 ft and beyond. Even less effective if the shooter is all drugged up. So distance is your friend, and learning to identify the sound is deadly important.
This is profiling. Thinking like this could get you into trouble because you'll size up situations incorrectly and react inappropriately. People will also pick up on how you see them. And what if they profile you?
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Old 02-14-18, 11:16 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Foldy313 View Post
This is profiling. Thinking like this could get you into trouble because you'll size up situations incorrectly and react inappropriately. People will also pick up on how you see them. And what if they profile you?
I call it "situational awareness". What do you mean react? Your first course of action should always be avoidance not confrontation. Armed or unarmed....unless you've got a good lawyer.

If your re-acting inappropriately than you've got a problem, and I call it rage. If you were in a car, it's called road rage. Be aware, remain calm, take a deep breadth, and avoid the situation if it seems uncomfortable, out of place, not right etc.... If you saw a black cat with a white stripe down it's back would you approach it and pet it?

Last edited by Silverexpress; 02-14-18 at 11:23 PM.
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Old 03-03-18, 02:17 PM
  #35  
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Perhaps you are cautious about putting out in the open, when you might be away from your residence, which is understandable, as you never noted what time frame you were touring.

I don’t believe most events would make some of the favorable/recommended bike routes along the Riverfront/Riverwalk in Downtown Detroit or along Belle Isle impassable (except maybe for the Belle Isle Grand Prix, which might be partly open during the race but is sure as hell going to be less peacful and a portion of it is closed off for several week after the Grand Prix--though admittedly I'm not sure exactly how much as I don't ride that far that early in the season), but if I were going to hit up Belle Isle the first time for example, I’d rather it be with less going on.

I would check out Michigan running websites for starters as those are the formal events to be both greater in number and potential to introduce some conflict with riding/walking. Not sure there is a comprehensive list of more sizable events (around 100+ participants and those otherwise involved) in the city. I know of two events. Some may not be an issue, but if one falls on a day you already planned on going to Detroit and it's at a time frame you'd likely be in that area, I'd look into the event more to find out relevant information like: participant numbers, maybe contacting organizers to see if those areas are still fairly usable for non-participants. Most such events I looked over, are in the A.M.

1.) Friday, June 1-Sunday, June 3: Detroit Grand Prix/ Related events @ Belle Isle http://detroitgp.com/

2.) Saturday, June 9, 2018: Detroit Riverfront Run
@ Detroit Riverwalk/ Milliken State Park Detroit (Race Information - RiverFront Run | Detroit Riverfront Conservancy) Starting @ 7:30AM


3.) Sunday, June 24, 2018: Motor City Triathlon @ Belle Isle, Detroit Starting @ 8:40AM https://www.trifind.com/re_423559/2018MotorCityTriathlon.html
This triathlon was workable to ride within their route and not uber competitive (at least from what I observed), but I personally would avoid that day and time frame if I had a choice.


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Old 03-31-18, 09:01 PM
  #36  
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If you like architecture.....

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/t...av=bottom-well
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Old 04-16-18, 12:28 AM
  #37  
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Had a little very-mini-tour to Detroit with my girlfriend last summer! We took the train from Montreal to London, ON, and biked to Windsor to cross.

The border crossing was a little less than straightforward, but after tracking down a cabbie with a passport (make sure you ask on the phone!) we were able to cross both by stuffing our bikes and gear into taxis. On the way into the US we got a van cab, but on the way back (given that the selection of passport-laden taxi drivers at 6am on a Sunday is limited) we were forced to stuff our gear into a tiny yellow cab. Had to pull both the wheels off of both of our bikes, but we got where we were going

We stayed for a little less than a week with a really gracious couchsurfing host on Grand Boulevard and explored a bit using that as our base. The state of the city was a little shocking at first- I grew up somewhere where nobody locks their doors, and this is a place where you need to talk to someone behind bulletproof glass to buy a bag of chips! But once we got the 'Detroit eyes' everything seemed less threatening. Most people are super friendly as soon as you talk to them, and as long as you don't flaunt your nice bike at a liquor store late on a friday night you're totally fine.

The traffic is super relaxed in most places thanks to the relatively few cars on the road in a city that was built to accommodate a whole lot of them. Downtown is clean and safe. The stark contrast between the neighbourhood-turned-fields where we were staying and the sparkling crystal palace of the GM headquarters was pretty incredible. In any case- we were fine locking our bikes up for a couple of hours to eat dinner. The road layout makes no sense, so if you're used to square blocks prepare to spend a lot of time trying not to look confused.

If you have time to explore the area, the Waterfront, Dequindre cut & Belle Isle is a fun ride.. check out the abandoned zoo! Also take a spin through the Heidelberg Project. Super weird, unforgettable place. We even biked out to Zug Island to see if we could hear the infamous 'Windsor Hum'. No dice, but we passed some really incredible abandoned buildings along the way- The massive (open for tours, but not when we passed) Fort Wayne and the former ferry dock to Boblo Island, a (you guessed it) abandoned theme park on an island.. in Ontario.

Be safe, but be open, and Detroit is a really cool experience. Don't just bike through at top speed! I'd go back to explore more in a second. When that bridge finally opens to bikes I'll have my excuse!
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Old 04-18-18, 03:11 PM
  #38  
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The great thing about biking Detroit is that the roads were designed for 3 times as many people that live in the city - so wide roads with little traffic. In the last 5 years there have been tons of bike lanes added and an amazing increase in using bikes for transportation. The increase is due to the influx of 20 somethings and the insane automobile insurance rates in the state and the city.

The city itself is layed out like the hub and spokes on your bike wheel. ;-)
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Old 04-21-18, 02:17 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
The great thing about biking Detroit is that the roads were designed for 3 times as many people that live in the city - so wide roads with little traffic. In the last 5 years there have been tons of bike lanes added and an amazing increase in using bikes for transportation. The increase is due to the influx of 20 somethings and the insane automobile insurance rates in the state and the city.

The city itself is layed out like the hub and spokes on your bike wheel. ;-)
How do you describe the highway layout? lol
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Old 04-21-18, 03:22 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
How do you describe the highway layout? lol
Highways? Most of them are closed for the summer...
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Old 04-22-18, 09:11 AM
  #41  
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I had to chance to ride a route with the Detroit Randonneurs two weeks ago. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was to ride. Cass St. was a bit too much stop-and-go for me. But since it was early, around 9-9:30AM, the riff-raff wasn't out yet. Coming back into town, we took Jefferson Ave north of the city into downtown. The bike lanes were quite nice too.
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Old 04-22-18, 04:03 PM
  #42  
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Before retiring I worked for a major health insurer based in Detroit for 19 years before taking a position out in their New Hudson location. My wife just retired from the Detroit office after 40 years. Yes, Detroit, at times seems like a gun fight, but the risks to anyone traveling there, or through, are blown out of proportion. There is much to see and it's getting better. My wife and I hope the benefits of the downtown area start to find their way out to surrounding neighborhoods.
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Old 04-23-18, 01:29 PM
  #43  
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FYI....

Zip code 48203 - "The Red Zone"

https://tinyurl.com/y6tvnnb8
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Detroit 48205.jpg (491.1 KB, 90 views)

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Old 04-23-18, 02:13 PM
  #44  
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I'm a little late to the thread. The best routing advice is from local cyclists that have experience on those roads. If that's not available:

When I've tested google maps cycling routing, it often picks the most direct route that's not a limited access highway. There's usually a better route.

Strava Heat Map and Route Builder
This is what I use in unfamiliar areas. And it's good for checking a route from other sources, too. I really try to avoid roads that have much less activity than nearby roads -- cyclists are avoiding that road. I'll choose a moderate road at times -- sometimes it just doesn't go where the local rides go, so it's less popular.

The Heat Map is from two years of uploaded Strava ride recordings. Using their "Hot" heatmap colors, the most popular roads are bright white, shading down to dull red, then to no-activity.

Here's the Toledo-SE Michigan Heat Map. (the URL changes as you pan and zoom, so you can bookmark it.)
Click "Labels" to show town and street names. Click "Bike" instead of "All"
I'll temporarily toggle the "Map" off to just show the heatmap if the underlying map is busy/confusing.

The heat coloring recalcs as you zoom in, so that country roads, with way less biking than city roads, still show the range from white to red.

Some of the riding is mountain bikes, so singletrack or gravel roads will be included. Check your route on satellite view if there's a chance of unpaved routes. Some club rides do their local steep "wall" climb, where a touring rider would pick a different road.

Entering Michigan:
You can see that the waterfront roads are popular heading north from Toledo. The two main diagonal roads, Dixie Highway and Telegraph Road, are way less popular. Actually, waterfront area roads look good all the way to downtown Detroit, and it's likely to be more interesting, too.

There's an area NE of downtown Detroit that's quite dim red. Cyclists are avoiding it. Toggle the map off, to see that very little riding is done there.

Strava Route builder (needs a free strava login) uses the Heat Map to pick a good route, often going well away from the obvious, direct road. It's usually good to excellent when I've used it. Toggle the Heat Map in the sidebar, so you can drag or click onto your choice of alternative roads.

The Route Builder can make some routes with a lot of turns, more designed for GPS navigation than a cue sheet.


Screen capture of one of the ferry crossings above Detroit. The blurry line is the bikes recording while crossing over.
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Old 04-23-18, 08:25 PM
  #45  
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Zip code 48203 - "The Red Zone"
People in Highland Park don't like to be misrepresented........ The Detroit News article is in reference to 48205 !

Last edited by detroitjim; 04-23-18 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 04-24-18, 02:54 AM
  #46  
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I'm thinking every major city has a "red zone" so I fail to see the point.
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Old 04-24-18, 02:33 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post

Strava Route builder (needs a free strava login) uses the Heat Map to pick a good route, often going well away from the obvious, direct road. It's usually good to excellent when I've used it. Toggle the Heat Map in the sidebar, so you can drag or click onto your choice of alternative roads.

The Route Builder can make some routes with a lot of turns, more designed for GPS navigation than a cue sheet.
That is what I used to build him the route above - using my local knowledge. ;-) For instance - the heat map makes it look like you can bike through the air force base - as it has a lot of "heat." I guess those guys work out a lot! I don't think most of us would make it past the gate though....
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Old 05-18-18, 11:06 AM
  #48  
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Here is a 300K loop around Detroit (for a Welcome to Detroit Randonneurs ride this weekend).

the part along the waterfront (bordering Canada) would be a good option for ya...

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/19894620
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06-16-15 10:49 PM
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06-22-13 09:31 AM
Sachelis
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05-01-12 05:56 PM
stokell
Europe
2
05-30-10 10:37 AM

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