Lately I’ve been riding my bike throughout the many downtown Detroit streets and along the three miles or so of the city’s river walk. Both areas have their unique sights and sounds. Depending on when I’m there, the streets can be light on cars and free of city busses that, in many cases, tend to crowd the curb lane for obvious reasons. In more of the central office building sections of the city, the sidewalks are usually free of pedestrians and have practically no activity. In other more popular areas of downtown sidewalk cafes and outdoor tables are setup on sidewalks in front of pubs and restaurants, and they are typically full of people taking advantage of the warm summer weather.
The river walk can be quite busy, especially along the stretch from Hart Plaza (at the foot of Woodward Avenue) to Rivard Plaza, a half mile or so east of the Renaissance Center. That section seems to be the most popular for families, casual walkers and those taking a leisurely bicycle ride along the Detroit River, where both pleasure craft and thousand-foot ore carriers share the river’s narrow passageway. Further east, beyond Rivard Plaza to Mt. Elliot Park where the walk now ends, the pedestrian traffic is noticeably lacking and almost non-existent in some sections, with the exception of a few runners, bicyclists and a fast paced walkers.
Both bicycle rides offer considerable contrast. The city’s urban environment, with its tall buildings, traffic, businesses, etc. is in harsh contrast to the calmness, serenity and the casualness of the constant flow of the Detroit River as it moves past the walk. If there is one thing that both settings offer, it’s the striking background to the incredible puffy, rolling clouds I’ve seen on my early evenings bike rides over the past few weeks. I’m not sure if they are the result of the recent heat we’ve been experiencing. Whatever the reason, the stacked clouds have filled the sky with rolling, bulging white masses, various shades of gray and the heavy darkness of pending storms that never seem to arrive.