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bicycling

Charles Picket Jr.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office

The Michigan Court of Appeals will not hear an appeal of second-degree murder charges against a man involved in a fatal bicycle crash last year.

Chief Clerk Jerome Zimmer wrote July 28 that Charles Pickett Jr.'s leave to appeal was denied "for failure to persuade the Court of the need for immediate appellate review."

illustration of trail
City of Detroit

Cyclists and pedestrians will soon have an easier time getting around Detroit.

What was once abandoned railroad track will become 7.5 miles of paved trails for biking and walking. The city used $4.3 million in state grants to purchase 76 acres of land from the Conrail railroad company.

The new trail will help fill the biggest gap in the city’s Inner Circle Greenway, a 26-mile loop of bike lanes and trails encircling the city. 

A road sign says "Share the road."
Flicker user Richard Drdul / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

While preparing for our "Sharing the Road" series, we asked Michigan Radio listeners to share some of their thoughts about improving bike safety in the state.

car and bicyclist riding side by side in the road
Flicker user Richard Masoner / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This week marks the anniversary of the crash that left five bicyclists dead in Kalamazoo County. In 2016, a total of 38 cyclists in Michigan lost their lives in crashes involving motor vehicles. That's a 10-year high, according to state data.

Man in bike gear standing with bike
Photo by Chris Fry Gobble / Courtesy of Paul Gobble

One year ago today, nine bicyclists headed out for a 28-mile ride in Kalamazoo County. They were part of the Chain Gang – a group that has been organizing weekly rides since 1999. 

Person on bicycle riding in an urban area.
Thomas Hawk / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the crash in Kalamazoo County that left five bicyclists dead and four others seriously injured. The riders were all members of the Chain Gang, a group that organizes weekly rides in and around Kalamazoo. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A national bicycle advocate worries President Trump’s proposed budget will hurt Michigan and other states’ efforts to promote two-wheel commuting.

“Pedal to Porch is a neighborhood bike ride that includes stops along the route where residents of the neighborhood use their front porch as a stage to tell their story,” Cornetta Lane told us.
Courtesy of Pedal to Porch

 

The Knight Cities Challenge is an opportunity for 26 Knight Foundation Communities across the nation, including Detroit, to answer the question:

What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?

At stake is a share of $5 million in grants.

Flickr user sin9e/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As more and more people turn to bicycles for transportation, fun and fitness, one might think it would be great to be able to bike between Detroit and Windsor. 

Once upon a time, that was possible. But no more.

Cyclists on social media write of being able to ride, even walk across the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor and back.

But after Matty Maroun bought the Ambassador Bridge, the bike and pedestrian walkway was replaced by wider lanes to better handle 18-wheelers. 

Ty Schmidt told us safety is a huge part of the Norte! experience. "We really take it serious. They signal, they stop at every stop sign, and their confidence builds, their independence builds," he said. "As they get older, these will be lifelong skills."
Courtest of Norte!

It used to be that getting to school meant hopping on your bike.

But when Ty Schmidt moved to Traverse City ten years ago, something stuck him: crowded bike racks outside schools had been replaced with long lines of cars at drop-off and pick-up.

That led Schmidt and his wife Johanna to launch an effort to get kids to ride their bikes - safely - to and from school. 

Activities like trail riding and paddleboarding are growing in popularity in Michigan.
flickr user Jereme Rauckman / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What does "outdoor Michigan" mean to you?

For decades, hunting and fishing would have been among the top answers.

But times change, and Michigan needs to retool the way it's pitching its outdoor charms. 

Ted Roelofs looks at selling the Michigan outdoors to a new generation in his latest piece for Bridge Magazine. He joined us today to take a look at how the outdoor sports scene is changing in Michigan.

A road sign says "Share the road."
Flicker user Richard Drdul / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

The biking community of Kalamazoo turned out last evening for a five mile silent ride, honoring the cyclists hit by an alleged drunk driver. Five people were killed and four were injured.

 

“The ride was part of what will be…a gradual healing process,” said Paul Selden, director of road safety for the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several thousand people are expected to swarm Sunday’s Ann Arbor Classic Bicycle Show and Swap Meet.

This is the show’s 35th year.

Organizer Paul Kleppert says people are drawn to see the rarest of the two wheelers.

Courtesy photo / Ben Schultz

It appears old man winter is finally loosening his grip on Michigan. (Dare I type that sentence?)

With temperatures close to the 50s over the weekend, some folks may have busted out the grill. I dug around my shed and got my bike out.

My office in Grand Rapids is only about a mile and a half away from my house. But it costs $14 a day to park there. It makes sense most days to commute on my bike.

But I don't bike to work in the winter. I’m just not that hardcore. The black ice, the wind chill, it’s daunting. I already hate driving in the snow. I can’t imagine riding my bike in it. I just can’t.

But people do it. Maybe you’ve seen them around your town? They’ve got those weird fat tire bikes and full face masks with icicle mustaches. They’re crazy, right?

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. 

More bike lanes in Michigan mean more cyclists

Nov 12, 2013
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

Manufacturing a commuter bike in Detroit

Aug 2, 2013
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.

The Spoke Folks, a Grand Rapids non-profit, wants to put "More Butts On Bikes" and help people maintain them.
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.  

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