Last Friday evening I was one of 250 to 300 bicyclists who met at Trumbull Avenue and West Warren for the monthly Critical Mass urban bike ride. The ride is a worldwide event held on the last Friday of the month in over 300 cities. It’s designed to bring awareness to the unfriendliness bicyclists sometimes face while riding on city streets.
Riders included families, assorted hipsters, older folks and others from Detroit and the surrounding communities. Some were dressed in full riding garb, others in shorts, sandals and tee-shirts. A few were dressed as if they were going out to dinner or a play. Overall, it was a casual bunch of cyclists out for an evening ride in Detroit.
The informal 12 to 14 mile bike route took us south on Trumbull Avenue, through the fringes of the Detroit Medical Center and out to the Packard Plant on East Grand Boulevard. We zigzagged our way through the tight streets near the Packard ruins to Farnsworth Street, an eastside artist colony. Riding through that area we passed many community gardens, homes being rehabbed and smiling kids standing on a street corner with their parents, waving us on. People love bicycles en masse, especially kids.
Leaving that lively eastside community, we rolled north on Mt Elliott on our way to Hamtramck, that tiny island of a city surrounded by Detroit and Highland Park. When we came to Holbrook, we took a quick left and pedaled west four-to-five blocks to Joseph Campau Street. At Joseph Campau we swung right and rode north through the city’s main commercial strip to Caniff Street. Riding through this compact area, families and others could be seen on the upper porches of the many two-story flats found throughout Hamtramck, cheering us on and waving as they barbecued on the warm summer evening. I also saw a couple of party store owners trying to increase sales by waving us in.
At Caniff, we took a left and headed west. Shortly after, we slowly crossed over a series of rough, slippery railroad tracks before the street passed over I-75. We stayed on Caniff until we hit Oakland Street and then headed south to Chicago Boulevard. At Chicago we turned right into the historic East Arden Park and Boston-Edison Historic Districts, an enclave of early 20th Century residential homes and mansions built by many of Detroit’s early industrialists and business owners.
Exiting the historic neighborhoods, we snaked our way south, skirting the Henry Ford Hospital to the New Center Park on East Grand Boulevard and Second Street. There, the ride unofficially ended with an after-party, featuring free music in the park.
I also posted an entry on the Halloween ride – “Critical Mass or Masquerade”. It can be viewed by clicking here.