From the dandy horse to the velocipede, bicycles have been a part of human life since the early 19th century. Today, bikes seem to be everywhere in Detroit.
Everything from public systems to bike shops and cycling events can be found on or near Wayne State’s campus. Since their invention in 1819, bicycles have become as trendy as brewing your own beer.
Detroit is following in the footsteps of major cities like New York and Portland by implementing public systems, in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals on a short-term basis.
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments has awarded Detroit $1.1 million to launch a bike share program and there have been a number of discussions about how a Detroit system might complement the upcoming QLINE, which will be equipped with vertical bike racks, according to Bridge Magazine's February news release "Big ambitions for Detroit's M-1 Rail System."WSU also contributes to efforts to bring public bike sharing to Detroit.
On campus, the Mort Harris Recreational and Fitness Center offers bike rentals ranging in hourly for $3 to a 24-hour period for $10.
WSU biochemistry and chemical biology major Layne Noble commutes to and from class and says she is happy people are choosing bikes and promoting a higher quality of health.
“I think it’s great that people are out exercising,” Noble says.
For students looking to get in on the bike scene, local shops like The Hub of Detroit offers used bikes, bike parts and bike repairs.
All of the Hub’s proceeds benefit Back Alley Bikes, a non-profit organization that has been serving the city of Detroit since 1999, while providing cycling education and services that emphasize youth development.
The Hub’s operations and communications manager Meg Marotte says having a strong biking infrastructure reduces traffic, makes transportation safer for pedestrians and promotes a greater sense of connection to space and each other.
She is concerned with the lack of bike lanes on roads around the city.
“At this time, not all of the bike lanes connect, which may make some riders feel unsafe biking in the road with cars,” Marotte says.
However, there are specific legal regulations and stipulations in place to prevent accidents.
Section 257.657 of the Motor Vehicle Commission states “Each person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”
With everything from weekly Slow Roll rides conducted by Detroit Bike City, to Motor City Bike & Brew Tours and annual events like the Tour de Troit, there is no shortage of cycling events in the city.
Motor City Bike & Brew Tours offers guided historical tours from May to September. Over 500 riders per season are rewarded with food and beer after riding through the history of the prohibition, city churches and even the rise and fall of the Purple Gang, a historic mob of Detroit bootleggers.
“The Detroit rebound has put a positive spin on the city,” owner Stephen Johnson says. “The growth and interest in biking in the city has helped grow and maintain our bike tour business.”
Echoing Marotte’s concern for cyclist safety, Johnson says all parties occupying the roads should act responsibly.
“There is more car and bike traffic in the city than there was five years ago,” he says. “Cars need to start treating bikers with more respect and bikers need to start obeying all of the rules of the road.”
If beer and bikes are not your thing, the Tour de Troit will take place on September 17. In an effort to spotlight healthy living and bicycle safety, this leisurely ride consists of 30 miles with police escorts and rest stops.
Additionally, there are also cycling events available at WSU. Preparations are currently in place for the annual Baroudeur, set for August 20.
Baroudeur, a French word meaning fighter or warrior, is meant to reflect the WSU student body. The event is in place to support Warriors by fundraising for WSU student scholarships.
Leading up to the Baroudeur, WSU offers weekly group rides being held every Tuesday night leaving at 6 p.m. from Lot 11 at Cass Avenue and York.