Detroit: Bike Resurgence in the Motor City

Detroit Slow Roll 2015

In the past decade, Detroit, the U.S. “Motor City”, has seen a resurgence of the bicycle and a growth in bike-related small businesses and community projects, along with the formation of the Detroit Greenways Coalition and its member organizations who have led the effort to make Detroit a more bike friendly and more walkable community.

“A hundred and fifty miles of new bike lanes have been added since 2006 and the city’s first protected bike lane — planned to be 10 miles long, it is expected to be one of the largest in the United States — is currently under construction.
Additionally, the Inner Circle Greenway, a 26-mile loop around the city connecting the close suburbs to downtown, is halfway complete.

The D
is also home to one of the largest weekly community bike rides in the world, Slow Roll Detroit, founded in 2010 by local residents Jason Hall and Mike MacKool:

“Slow Roll is a group bicycle ride that meets every Monday night in Detroit and has expanded into a national network of community rides. Each week we meet at different venues and take a unique route throughout the city, including all the major and minor neighborhoods that we are so proud of.
Slow Roll is for everyone; all ages, all skill levels and every type of bike is welcome. Our slow pace keeps the group safe and gives riders a unique perspective of our great city and its neighborhoods.
Now in the a 6th Season, Slow Roll is operated by Detroit Bike City, Inc., a non-profit corporation. We have worked hard to continue with the spirit of Slow Roll and to create a membership program that will help to ensure the ride and its future in Detroit and beyond. With the great partnership that has developed with the City of Detroit and the Detroit Police Department, Season six is set to be a great one. Some new venues, new routes, old favorites, and a police escort to keep us safe and rolling!

UK Online newspaper The Guardian featured the Detroit Slow Roll recently in picture gallery form in their article – Pimp my bike: Detroit’s custom cycles.

Detroit Slow Roll - The Guardian - Photograph: Jason Walker
Detroit Slow Roll – The Guardian – Photograph: Jason Walker

Bike shops, showrooms and manufacturing have also seen an upsurge, with stores like the aptly named Motorless City Bikes at Eastern Market, and local businessman Zak Pashak launching Detroit Bikes in 2012, with a mission to encourage cycling by making accessible, enjoyable bicycles while continuing Detroit’s legacy of quality manufacturing and design. The 50,000 square-foot factory now has the capacity to produce 100 bicycles a day, marking the return of high-volume US frame manufacturing.

Detroit Bikes

It’s not just sales and manufacturing either, Wheelhouse Detroit offers an innovative approach to getting Detroiters out and about around the city with guided cycling tours – just $10 bike hire if you’d prefer not to use your own bike.

Things seem to be looking up for cycling in Detroit and long may the passion, community and diversity that it brings continue.

If you’re a Detroitian and want to tell us about your Detroit cycling experiences, please come and join in the CycleChat.