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Posts Tagged ‘southwest detroit’

Detroit is a great city for bicycling. The neighborhood streets and major roads carrying car traffic in and out of the city are super wide. Quite a few of them are one way, making for ideal cycling. Throughout busy Southwest Detroit and sections of midtown, many miles of bike lanes have been installed, and from what I understand, more are coming. Over on the city’s eastside, there’s been progress on the Conner Park Greenway that will eventually extend from the Detroit River out to Eight Mile Road, a distance of about nine miles.

In addition to the wide streets and bike lanes that make for easy city riding, one of the best things I like about riding the streets of Detroit is the lack of traffic. It’s not uncommon for me to ride two to three miles on major three-lane, one-way roads or on two-way streets without a single car passing me in either direction. Although Detroit lost over half its population in the last 40-years, (thus fewer cars on the streets) it’s still a major American urban center. Considering its size, the lack of traffic on the city’s streets is incredible to me.

Obviously not all the streets and roads are void of cars. Woodward, Michigan, Gratiot Avenue, and others always have plenty of traffic. One of the things that I don’t understand about riding on the wide, less traveled one-way streets is that most cars don’t generally move out of the right hand lane.  I’ll be pedaling close to the right curb, and they still whiz closely by, even though the left lane(s) are completely open with lots of space for them to move over. Drivers must be programmed to stay in the right hand lane, no matter what.

Bicyclists in Detroit are fortunate to have access to lightly traveled streets and roads. Their openness makes for enjoyable, stress free rides.  Of course, there’s the exception of stray dogs, but that’s another story.

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Riding my bike throughout Detroit I’ve come across lots of interesting sights. I’ve seen signs with misspelled names; ridden behind severely crippled cars spewing blue smoke so thick it was hard to see beyond it; and found abandoned buildings full of moldy mattresses, hundreds of tires, stripped cars, building materials and endless piles of trash.   Unfortunately, I’ve also spotted small settlements of what appears to be homeless people who have set-up homesteads in out-of-the–way areas of overgrown weeds and trees. All this makes me wonder what went wrong in this city

On the flipside, I’ve ridden through shattered neighborhoods where a caring resident or two live in perfectly maintained, well landscaped homes worthy of those found in suburbia’s best communities.  I have been in neighborhoods, such as Southwest Detroit, where there’s a hornet’s nest of activity with bumper-to-bumper traffic, packed restaurants and coffee shops. The downtown area and the lengthy riverwalk are usually bustling, and so is Detroit’s midtown area with its vibrant restaurants, brewpubs and cultural institutions. Plus, there are pockets of new housing projects developed by Habitat for Humanity and other citywide non-profit organizations. As this blog reflects, there is quite a contrast in what I see pedaling across Detroit.

Triangle building

One of the things I’ve noticed in this large city full of oddities and contrasts is that there is no shortage of unusual, odd buildings. They seem to come in all shapes and sizes; built out of brick, wood, cinder blocks or a combination of all. Several are residential places that have been added on to over the years without any regard, it seems, for building codes. Others are small commercial buildings that have outlived their original use as a neighborhood mom-and-pop store and are now painted in bright, wild colors.  A few I’ve seen have been built at peculiar angles to fit on a sliver of land that was only available during the time it was constructed.

Straight from a western movie set

I like the simple lines and color of this building

Former Tiki restaurant near the new center area

The older sections of the city seem to have a quite a mixture of odd buildings. I’m not sure if it was the era in which they were built, or perhaps they’ve evolved over decades of use and updates by different owners.  Regardless, Detroit is packed full of odd buildings.

There seems to be at least three businesses here

This place needs steps and a taller, wider door

Unusual design to this family home

Quite a few add-ons to this sagging home

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