Early Sunday morning is a perfect time to ride the streets of Detroit. The multi-lane, asphalt streets and roads are virtually traffic free. Buses are few and far between, and there’s an overall calmness to the city. One of my favorite Sunday morning rides is going north on Second Avenue from West Grand Boulevard to Palmer Park where it ends. The street is one way from the Boulevard to Highland Park where it goes to a traditional two lane street. Plus, its four lanes wide to Highland Park, and unlike other streets in Detroit, it’s relatively smooth, with few potholes to deal with.
This past Sunday I took this ride once again. What always amazes me about riding the northbound avenue is the lack of traffic. Knowing that it’s Sunday morning, less traffic is expected, but on this ride only one car passed while I pedaled the total length of Second Avenue north to Palmer Park! The one car that did pass was in Highland Park. The lone car was heading south as I was pedaling north. It’s hard to believe that I can ride a bicycle in a major city for about 4.5 miles and only have one car pass by!
North from the Boulevard, Second Avenue runs through a variety of neighborhoods. There is the iconic Historic Boston-Edison Neighborhood with their restored, large stately homes. Beyond that it’s basically smaller single family residences. A few multi-story apartment buildings line the street along some sections, especially closer to Highland Park. Some of those apartment buildings have been abandoned and are in disrepair. Despite the financial problems Highland Park (a small city surrounded by Detroit) is dealing with, there are some spectacular, well-maintained homes there. Many are easily seen from Second Avenue.
One of the most fascinating things about the ride is a pedestrian subway. It passes under Second at the corner of Cortland Street in Highland Park. The little subway is now sealed and probably hasn’t been used in over 50-years. It’s hard to imagine that at one time there we so many cars jammed on the street that a subway was needed for people to cross.