In case you missed it, this past Saturday was a good day to be out bicycling in Detroit. The roads and streets were dry. Snow and ice were long gone, and traffic was light. Best of all, it was near 60 degrees! Temperatures that warm are quite unusual in Detroit for the second weekend in January, so why not take advantage of it and spend time checking out the city on a bicycle? That’s exactly what I did.
My leisurely ride began near the Historic Woodbridge neighborhood at the corner of West Warren Avenue and Trumbull Street, where I rode west on Warren to the Dearborn city limit. That is a distance of about 4-miles. The Woodbridge District has hundreds of late 1800s and early 1900s Victorian homes, and most have been restored. The compact historic community is about four blocks wide, beginning at Trumbull, spreading west to Grand River Avenue. Beyond that, there isn’t much residential property along West Warren.
Typical of the many major commercial streets I’ve bicycled on in Detroit, there is plenty of open land along West Warren. The landscape out there is peppered with colorful painted buildings that house a variety of businesses. They include such places as auto repair shops, hand car washes, small Coney island restaurants and various bar-b-que joints. There is also a fair amount of vacant buildings along the avenue.
Crossing in Dearborn at Wyoming Ave. was like entering a new world. There I was greeted with a bunch of fast food chains, banks, and small bustling strip centers housing national retail stores. Quite a contrast to what I saw along West Warren in Detroit.
From Dearborn I rode south on Central Avenue to John Kronk Street. Central is a tight, narrow street in Southwest Detroit that is lined with old frame homes. Riding along that well-worn street, I saw plenty of people outside taking advantage of the high temps by cleaning up their yards, enjoying cold beers and a neighborly conversation on their front porches, or working on their cars in the street. At John Kronk I headed east along the street. That section of John Kronk hugs an expansive rail road yard that lines the road. The yard was packed solid with hundreds of freight cars. Some were moving slowly and banging into each other as massive engines pushed them slowly along.
From Kronk, I cut over to West Vernor Highway, a street that runs through the heart of the City’s active Mexican community. I pedaled east on Vernor to the abandoned Michigan Central Train Station, and from there I took a quick loop through Detroit’s oldest neighborhood – Corktown. I eventually ended up in downtown Detroit where I saw many bicyclists and people out meandering along, savoring the warmth. Even the skaters at the Campus Martius rink were enjoying the exceptional warm weather while skating without their heavy winter garb.
Warm January days don’t happen often in Detroit. When they do, it’s always a bonus to get out and rack up a few miles on a bicycle.
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