Stateside: Cyclists take over streets of Detroit for 11th Annual Tour de Troit

Sep 13, 2012

"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.

But the festivities don’t end on the road.

“We feed everyone, tap a bunch of kegs of beer, local restaurants provide food, bands play.”

“For some people it’s a fitness event, for some it’s ride and chat and have a good time,” said Lusa.

Cyndy asked Lusa what the organizers were hoping to accomplish.

Lusa said the mission is twofold: to show people in the city they could get back on their bicycles and to show cyclists in the region the city. The tour as grown along with the popularity of cycling as an alternative form of commuting.

Cyndy wanted to know how the ride has changed since Lusa became director a few years ago.

In 2005, Lusa's first year, about 100 to 200 people rode. This year, he said, they are going to cap registration at 5,000 riders.

In 2005, Lusa’s first year, about 100 to 200 people rode. This year, he said, they are going to cap registration at 5,000 riders.

There is a cost to enter the Tour, and Cyndy wondered how the money collected was helping to build bike lanes in the city.

Lusa said his group is looking to implement  sections of the non-motorized plan for the city of Detroit.

“The original project that is near and dear to the Tour de Troit (link) is the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink, which is a series of bike lanes and non-motorized paths that go throughout the southwest side,” said Lusa.

“From an infrastructure standpoint a lot of the time you’re just looking at paint. We don’t have to repave the road to put a bike lane down." 

Lusa notes that the city has an overbuilt infrastructure for the current population as far as streets go. But where some people see a negative, Lusa sees opportunity.

“We don’t need five lanes going one way northbound on second street between Downtown and Midtown.”

Instead Lusa suggests, the city could put two lanes of traffic either way, as well as a bike lane and parking lane.

“Bam, now we got a more urban environment; it’s using the most of what we got," Lusa said.

“Why is the tour of Detroit so important for the city?” asked Cyndy.

Lusa thinks it has to do with people’s familiarity with Detroit. He thinks some people have one singular view of Detroit that extends only from the highway  to the cities stadiums.

“In a day people’s perception changes,” Lusa said

Cyndy wondered what safety concerns cyclists might have riding in a city.

“You can find your way into trouble. Let’s not be naïve about it. There are vast swathes of the East Side that I’m not going to cruise around at night on my bike waving at people,” Lusa laughed.

But Lusa thinks biking is one of the safer ways to get around, especially with the growing community of riders.

Find out more about the Tour here.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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