Sunday, August 14, 2011

Green Cruise

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to participate in a local bicycle ride sponsored by the Sierra Club called the "Green Cruise". Billed as an opportunity to celebrate the many forms of human-powered transit that help keep you and the planet healthy. This event was held one week before Metro Detroit, is invaded by classic cars from all over in what is called the "Dream Cruise". 
There were a few ways to celebrate and participate in the Green Cruise as outlined on the billboard. The 40 mile route would take you south from Ferndale towards Detroit with several great areas to see while the 20 mile ride would head north and wind through several suburbs before returning to Ferndale where there would be several events and vendors.
Rolling out from my house and riding towards the event, I mulled over my options for the rides. I haven't ridden my bike much this year, but was fairly confident that I could keep up with the "faster" group on the 40 mile loop. Worst case scenario is that I would have to drop back to the "slower" group on the route. There were no prizes or pride to be won on this day, just an opportunity to use my own two legs thrown over a skinny wheeled contraption to "cleanly" see the sights and sounds.

Mother Nature was in agreement for the ride as we were treated to temps in the high 60's and clear skies as we headed downtown. This was a great way to see several parts of the city that I have not seen when running the Detroit Free Press Marathon or while hanging out with the family.  First rest stop before heading out to Belle Isle was along the Detroit Riverwalk. It was here that I was able to pull off my arm warmers and try a new bar that I had picked up at REI recently called Honey Rocket Chocolate Energy Bar. Yummy!
After the rest stop, we rolled through the  William G. Milliken State Park
on our way towards the Dequindere Cut Greenway
My favorite area to roll through was the Heidelberg Project. Even though I have lived in the Metro Detroit area for well over 25 years now, I have never been through this area and was really happy that another cyclist explained to me this amazing area and why it was created. Amidst drugs, poverty and blight in the area, people wanted a way to call attention to the bad and rid themselves of it in the area by using art. Since then, the Heidelberg Project founded by Tyrone Guyton has grown to encompass two blocks of color, symbolism and hope and expanded to provide children with hope and inspiration through art.
While this was an event meant to celebrate human powered movement, and one that I was happy to partake in, I couldn't help but think of several other things throughout the ride. First off, while it was amazing to see pockets of urban gardening in the city, there were also many areas of blight where once beautiful homes stood like shells of their former selves with decay and garbage lining the streets.  Secondly, the idea that a mass transit/light rail would be built to bring people down to Detroit instead of driving their cars is laughable at best. Detroit is known as the "Motor City" and people love their cars. No way are people going to park their cars at 8 mile road near the dilapidated and now defunct State Fairgrounds (note: there is no State Fair in Michigan) to ride down Woodward Avenue through blight and despair to hit only pockets of areas that are safe and have anything of value to do.  Lastly, this is "Detroit" though and we are a blue collar town. We don't give up. This once great city will rise again, but it will take the collective efforts of everyone not only in the city but the suburbs as well to make it happen. Perhaps events like the "Green Cruise" can be the spark that will ignite the fire.

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