If you didn't quite remember that from Latin class, the motto of Detroit is:
We hope for better things, it shall rise from the ashes.
First written in reference to the fire that destroyed much of the city in 1805, the motto is once again relevant to today's Detroit. The city has its ruins again but for reasons other than widespread fire. The urban giant saw a population decline of nearly half its residents since 1950 due to urban sprawl, white flight and most recently the struggling auto-industry. The population decline left behind a sparse city and plenty of road with lanes to spare. Enter the bicyclists. Although I am new to the bicycle scene in Detroit, it is hard to ignore the buzz of bicycling activity that has erupted in the city. Here are some examples:
... the list goes on (Please comment with any other good reads/resources) but I'll diverge on my own experiences in Detroit bicycling with the Critical Mass bike rides.
My first Critical Mass experience was in Ann Arbor, Michigan where some locals and students organized a weekly ride that I saw reach a peak of around 100 young people cruising around town. In its heyday the organizers broke the group into smaller groups and organized photo-scavenger hunts. The first time I rode in the Detroit Critical Mass was last September with a turnout of ~300 riders. The ride went about 10 miles from Midtown through Mexicantown and through the center of downtown, stopping a few times, once outside of Comerica Stadium where we received cheers from Tiger's fans:
The following month was the Detroit Critical “Massquerade” on the Friday of Halloween weekend. My partner and I were inspired by a humorous blog post to create the ultimate costume for the ride. After a week of working late into the night, this is what resulted:
Our costume received great appreciation as we struggled to keep up with the ride. One blogger who was there wrote some good words about us saying that the
“tandem bike monster riding critical mass wins for best costume of two thousand and ten. pictures do not do it justice. just imagine seeing this monstrosity rumbling down woodward amongst the crazy cars around the Ren Cen. this is pure Detroit.”
We ultimately failed to complete the ride with everyone else and found our way to the Motor City Brewery where more shenanigans ensued:
The following day we attempted to make it down to Eastern Market for the Alley Cat race but found ourselves entertaining shoppers, riding custom bicycles, and getting some bicycle powered hair(beard)cuts:
Ultimately, Detroit might have its fair share of challenges but with that comes great opportunities, especially for us two wheeled travelers. If you want more on bicycling and Detroit I'd recommend these other great reads on the Detroit bicycle culture:
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