bicycling

Will Ann Arbor succeed with its bike sharing program?

Oct 10, 2014
Heather Seyfarth and "Cooper" at the Clean Energy Coalition in Ann Arbor.
Doug Coombe

Bike share programs are not a new concept – there are successful bike share programs in major cities all throughout the world. If you travel around North America, you'll find citywide bike share programs in Chicago, New York, Boston, Austin, Des Moines, Denver, Boulder, D.C., Madison (WI), Minneapolis/St. Paul, Philadelphia, Columbus, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Baltimore, the Bay Area, Toronto, and Montreal, among others.  

At the end of September the new ArborBike bike share program in downtown Ann Arbor debuted, becoming the first and currently only public bike share program in southeastern Michigan. 

Issue Media Group

Cities like Ann Arbor, Portland, and Seattle are known for promoting biking in their cities, but biking hasn't found much of a foothold in many traditional Rust Belt cities.

Some people are trying to change that. Issue Media Group has two pieces profiling those people.

In their publication Mid-Michigan Second Wave, writer Kelli Kavanaugh looks at this trend in Flint. Kavanaugh spoke with Flint native Andy Stamps who founded the Berston Bicycle Club Project. 

MDOT

More communities in Michigan are embracing bike lanes.

Grand Rapids plans to add 40 more miles of bike lanes in the next few years. Detroit has an aggressive approach to implementing them and they're popping up in places like Adrian and South Haven, not to mention the biking hot spots of Traverse City and Marquette.

Josh DeBruyn is the bike and pedestrian coordinator for MDOT. Part of his job is to deal with the applications that towns send him when they apply for grants to help install bike lanes.

DeBruyn says he gets double to triple the amount of applicants that he can actually fulfill for these kinds of grants.

He also says he hears from plenty of people and organizations about what he calls "motor vehicle angst" - or drivers who are frustrated and sometimes aggressive with cyclists.

You can listen to my interview with him here:

user: ahealthydesign / Flickr

New Michigan legislation would allow bikes and motorcycles to run red lights. 

Many two-wheeled vehicles, like bicycles, motorcycles and mopeds, aren't heavy enough to trigger traffic sensors. The bill would require cyclists to wait for 60 seconds to show that their vehicle is not triggering a green light. After one minute, cyclists would wait for traffic to clear before proceeding.

Dwayne Gill is a legislative liason for the State Police.

He told the Detroit Free Press that the bill concerned the police:

"It's giving the green light to run a red light for those types of vehicles," Gill said. "A driver in a car may see that and want to go through a red light, too. It sets up a very dangerous situation and a dangerous precedent."

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee would vote on the bill next week.

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Detroit Bikes Facebook

There are a couple of relatively new companies making bikes in Detroit.

Shinola makes them (along with watches, leather goods, and journals). Detroit Bicycle Company makes 'em.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A fledgling bicycle share company hopes to get rolling in Lansing in August.

A group of college students have founded a company that will provide bikes for temporary rentals.

The idea would be to set up bike rental stations at bus stops and other commuting locations in Lansing to give people an option for the next short leg of their journey.

user kconnors / morgueFile

Whether it’s commuters who are sick of rising gas prices, the hipsters moving into urban areas, or empty-nester baby boomers seeking fitness, the bicycle is growing in popularity. Cycling tripled nationwide from 1990 to 2009, and that growing popularity is reflected here in Michigan.

But it's not just riding for fun or fitness. Cycling can impact the way our communities look, and impact policy and infrastructure at the state and local level, as well.

John Lindenmayer, the advocacy and policy director for the League of Michigan Bicyclists, joined us in the studio. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Cyclists will descend on Detroit for the 11th Annual Tour de Troit on Saturday.
Brian Stoeckel

Students across Michigan hopped on their bikes this morning, in celebration of the country’s second annual Bike to School Day. According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, more than 80 Michigan schools geared up for the two-wheeled holiday, up from 45 schools in 2012.



Bike to School Day rolls around just days after the League of American Bicyclists released their report on the most bike-friendly states in the country. Michigan earned a spot in the top twenty, falling in 12th place on the group’s survey. In the Midwest region, Michigan was ranked fourth.

Karpati Gabor / Morguefile.com

Soon, Michigan bicyclists might be able to pedal across the state on a new trail spanning both peninsulas.

Governor Snyder proposed the idea for the 599-mile path in his speech on the environment yesterday.

The trail would connect the state's existing asphalt, dirt, and gravel trails.

The route would wind from Belle Isle in Detroit, to the Mackinac Bridge and across the U.P. to Wisconsin.   

Ron Olson runs the state’s parks and recreation division.

He says obstacles to the plan include building paths on private lands and securing more funding.

"There is no yet-defined pot of money to be able to say, 'Well, we’re going to do this,'" he said.

Olson says he expects the funds to come from state and federal grants. He estimates the trail will be complete in five years.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Cyclists will descend on Detroit for the 11th Annual Tour de Troit on Saturday.
Brian Stoeckel

"Cyclists, meet the City of Detroit."

That's basically the goal of Tour de Troit, an event happening this Saturday. That's when thousands of cyclists will take over the streets of Detroit and discover the pleasures of big-city biking during a thirty-mile ride.

Bill Lusa is the director of Tour de Troit.

Cyndy talked to Lusa about what's happening this Saturday?

This year the streets are completely closed to automobile traffic throughout the route, giving participants the opportunity to ride streets freely with other bicyclists Lusa said.

NASA Goddard Photo and Video, Flickr

Last Sunday afternoon, Kris McNeal, 26, and Zach Chase, 25, rode their bikes into Duluth, Minnesota after a more than 5,300 mile bike ride around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The duo had previously completed a 1,700-mile trip from Seattle to Mexico, but that seems like child's play compared to this 97-day long trip.

Averaging about six hours of riding per day, McNeal and Chase covered between 60 and 70 miles before making camp each night. They got their first flat tire after 3,000 miles and ended up having 15 flats by the end of the trip.

KTesh / Creative Commons

Hundreds, if not thousands of bicyclists in Michigan are expected to take part in a ride of silence tonight. The international ride of silence honors those who’ve been injured or killed riding their bikes. The rides all start at 7p local time.

The event is in memory of a cyclist who died in 2003 in Texas when he was clipped by the side mirror of a moving bus. 

Rides of silence begin at seven tonight in Detroit, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Holland, Ann Arbor and at least two dozen other cities in Michigan.

Tom Tilma heads the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition… which is organizing one of the rides. He says cyclists and drivers are making progress, but both need to be better at sharing the road to make it safer for everyone.

"I think cyclists are learning to follow the rules of the road more. I’m seeing more cyclists waiting for the red light to turn green before we go through the intersection. That’s very important we think. And we’re seeing more drivers chill out and not follow cyclists so close,” Tilma said.

The ride of silence coincides with national ride your bike to work week.

user K_Gradinger / Flickr

A series of bicycle lanes stretching 16 miles and connecting three neighborhoods in southwest Detroit has been completed. The Greenlink is part of the city's urban master plan for non-motorized transportation and allows bike riders safe access to the three historic neighborhoods.
    

A $500,000 Michigan Department of Transportation grant funded 80 percent of the project. Other grants and fundraisers paid for the other 20 percent.
    

www.tour-de-troit.org

Thousands of bikers are expected on Detroit streets Saturday for the 10th annual “Tour de Troit.”

Most of them will take part in a 22-mile, police-escorted tour that explores a different part of Detroit’s historic landscape every year. This year, it will kick off in the shadow of the Michigan Central Station, the hulking former
train depot that’s sat empty for more than 20 years (there’s also a 62-mile loop for more adventurous bikers).

screen grab from YouTube video

The Thunderdrome comes to Detroit this Saturday!

It's not the post-apocalyptic competition featured in the Mel Gibson movie.

Instead of "two men enter, one man leaves" ...

It's more like "around 100 men and/or women enter, around 100 men and/or women leave... perhaps with some scrapes and bruises."

A write up on this wild, anarchic race is featured on the Changing Gears website by WBEZ's Robin Amer.

Robin writes about how the organizers unearthed an abandoned velodrome in Detroit's Dorais Park:

It was literally unearthed by one of the city’s vigilante lawn-mower gangs — people who mow the lawns at city parks because the city cannot afford to do so. The velodrome, on the city’s east side, was repaired by racing enthusiasts who cut down trees growing in its center and invested thousands of dollars of their own money and over 4,000 lbs of concrete fixing its surface. And now, it has come back to life as home to a variety of competitions.

When asked who the sanctioning body for this race is, organizer Andy Didorosi replied:

We are. We're the only sanctioning body in the world for zany two-wheeled party racing on abandoned Velodromes. :) Sanctioning bodies are silly.

Here's a video of last year's race. I like how the victor, instead of doing a lap with a checkered flag, does a lap with a torn-off portion of a Pabst Blue Ribbon box.

Making Michigan’s roads better is the job of a state appointed committee that holds its first meeting this week.  The legislature created the Complete Streets Advisory Council last year.  

Eric Sweet

Riding a bicycle is a classic part of childhood. But plenty of kids don’t have bikes. One program in Kalamazoo teaches kids simple bike maintenance and at the end of the program, kids get their own bike. But the people who run the Open Roads workshop say the heart of the program is about teaching basic social skills.

Eric Sweet

This week, we’re changing it up a bit for our “What’s Working” series. Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley is welcoming Michigan Radio Reporter Kyle Norris into the studio to talk about a program in a Kalamazoo neighborhood that revolves around bikes.

Resident Ethan Alexander has organized a program called the Open Roads Bike Program, which teaches kids about bike maintenance. The children learn to perform a number of tasks involved in repairing and taking care of bikes. When they’ve completed all of the tasks, they are rewarded with a bike of their own.

But the bikes are not the only focus of the program. While learning how to take care of bikes provides the children with a sense of accomplishment and pride, Alexander makes sure the kids learn how to respect and get to know one another.

Kyle Norris recently attended a regularly held workshop event in the neighborhood called “Fixapalooza,” where she got to witness what the program has to offer first-hand. She says the atmosphere was similar to that of a block party, plus bikes – many, many bikes.

“It was a total party. There was Michael Jackson on a boom box, blasting. There was pizza. There was a dog running around. And there were a lot of kids, and adults, too, and bikes – bikes flipped over, adults working on bikes, kids working on bikes.”

The program got started when Edison neighborhood resident Ethan Alexander combined two things he had in excess: bikes and an understanding of how to work with children. Norris says it all got started about three years ago.

“He actually created it because he had a lot of bikes kicking around. I think he’s sort of a bike-head, so he had a lot of bikes. But he’s also a social worker, and he knows how to work with kids and get kids to work on their social skills and work on becoming better kids. So he kind of put the two loves together.”

The children who participate in the program don’t have to come very far to join in the fun, says Norris.

“Many of them come from this Edison neighborhood. They come, literally, down the street. Maybe single-family homes, maybe economically challenged.”

Alexander says the program gives the children a sense of confidence that they may not have in other areas of their lives.        

“A lot of these kids may not be successful in school. They may not be successful in other avenues. But you put a wrench in their hand, or you put a screwdriver in their hand, and that’s when they kind of light up, that’s when they get excited, and say, ‘Oh, I can do this. This is something I can do.’ And they’re valued and they start to believe in themselves and their abilities.”

After hanging out at Fixapalooza, Norris describes Mr. Alexander as a “zippy” guy. She says his leadership creates the atmosphere of respect.

Keith Edkins / Creative Commons

New or expanding businesses in the City of Kalamazoo will be required to include space to park bicycles.

Mayor Bobby Hopewell says it is part of a broader plan to promote sustainability.

 “We talk about wanting to attract young people and keep young people; we talk about wanting to be a vibrant urban core community. These are the things that urban communities do. They recognize that we can’t only be about the automobile, we have to be about how everyone gets around in the community.”

Only new buildings or those that are expanding are mandated to accommodate bike racks. The number required depends on how many people will use the building, with a maximum of 25 spaces required. Existing public and private entities will be encouraged to add places for their customers and employees to park their bikes.

Rural roads by bike

Oct 30, 2010

I'll be talking with Rob Pulcipher about his new book, "Dirt Road Washtenaw: Biking the Back Roads." He believes dirt roads are the hidden gems of Michigan. Listen for that interview in early November.