Detroit is the Motor City. It’s a town of cars, freeways, and summer roadwork. When they all come together, it creates lengthy stop and go traffic jams, as was the case on westbound I-94 near downtown this past weekend. While pedaling along East Grand Boulevard on the north side of the expressway, I noticed that car and truck traffic was much heavier than normal for a late Saturday morning. It didn’t register with me that drivers may have been hopping off the expressway and taking the service drive, which happens to be the Boulevard in that part of town.
I didn’t realize the expressway was slated for weekend work until I crossed over the East Grand Boulevard bridge on my bicycle. Glancing to my right I saw the glow of red brake lights from the cars below, all at a standstill. Peering over the bridge I saw a long line of orange barrels in the outside lane, angling to the right. The barrels were anchored at the end of the merge by a large yellow, electronic arrow. The blinking illuminated directional arrow was pointing right, forcing traffic from three lanes to one.
Looking to my left I saw the front ends of cars and trucks, lined up on the expressway for as far as I could see. They were all waiting their turn to merge to the right just beyond the bridge. Looking down on the cars crawling by below, I couldn’t help notice the many drivers talking on cell phones, staring at their phone screens, or in some instances, texting away. I was up there watching the slow, merging traffic through a chain-link safety fence for about 10-minutes. During that time, I would say at least 50% of the drivers were using their mobile phone one way or another.
Others appeared to be snacking; some were smoking, talking with passengers, fiddling with what looked like their radio. Some simply looked bored. One “tough guy” driver flipped me off, as if it mattered. After all, he was the one stuck in traffic, not me. I laughed and pedaled away thinking to myself, “Bikes are better.”