“Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.” – H.G. Wells
On what would seem like a counterintuitive move in the “Motor City,” I opted to rent a bicycle as my method of transportation, instead of a car, on a recent visit to Detroit.
I had read that Detroit locals were giving tours around the city to witness the post-apocalyptic environment and to see what was better known as “ruin porn.” Decrepit buildings, abandoned offices and a true ghost-town feel were all part of the experience. I imagined myself riding through Detroit’s 8 Mile on a pink beach cruiser, giving up halfway and hightailing it back in sheer fear.
But that’s not what happened during my Detroit bike ride. I saw a side of the city far different than what I imagined (derived primarily from Eminem videos.) People waved as I crossed the street, greeted me with “how ya doin’s?” and the occasional “thumbs up,” the universal sign that “everything is going to be OK.” I cruised up the Riverwalk, passing the cobalt blue General Motors skyscraper, headed cross town to the public art scene at the Heidelberg Projects and finished off with a perfect iced latte from Astro Coffee. The city seemed bright eyed and awake, instilling in me a sense of fandom. I felt connected in a way I didn’t expect. As if I had it all wrong; this place was alive, bubbling to the brim with culture, art and history. As I zoomed past the buildings I noticed incredible graffiti, urban gardens and smiling faces –none of which I could have experienced inside the confines of a motor vehicle. I thought to myself, what else have I missed?
When I got back to New York the city had just announced we were to follow in Denver, Barcelona, Miami and Austin’s footsteps for the Bike Share program. I pushed off getting a bike of my own with my hope set high to share a bike with my fellow New Yorker’s, but looks like I’ll now be waiting until Spring of 2013.
Looking back at my Detroit bike ride experience, I decided to kick the tires and consult a girl and a boy about biking in New York.
Here’s their advice:
Favorite wheels: My Raleigh bike. It’s the Robin Hood line specifically the Nottingham. Most notable feature is the Robin Hood shield that rests on the front of my bar.
Favorite place to take the Raleigh? Heading west on the Prince street bike path. Amazing people watching with a well respected bike lane, catering perfectly to my riding style which is slow and relaxed.
Advice for new cyclists? When in NYC – always look both ways, multiple times through an intersection and don’t rely on the one-way rule. People ride in every direction, especially the delivery boys. Oh, and like finding a wife, buy an ugly bike that no one wants.
Key accessories? A kryptonite lock and a horn. I bought a horn that unfortunately sounded like a sad duck. Zero protection, but it always made the passerby laugh. Children and homeless guys are particular fans of the honky tonk horn.
Are there any apps for that? Bike There. it’s like hop-stop but for bikes with loads of paths in the city and helps you find the safest route.
What else Shaun? A good way to get familiar with biking in a city is find a good protected bike event – like nyc’s summer streets. Everyone goes slowly, there are no cars, and you get to take in a view of the city that is rarely enjoyed.
Favorite place to ride: Williamsburg bridge “I love the climb to the top & the excitement of coasting down.”
Any advice to future bikers? Look out for the cops!
Any other bike-jewelry to consider? Im a big fan of my Walnut Studios cup holder. Although, these Gage & Destoto water bottles are pretty dope, I need to get my hands on one. I also tote my little dog Harley around, so this Mutt-Mover is key.
Words of wisdom to the new kids on the bikes? “Don’t be a fool! Wear a Helmet, the streets are meaner + harder than they look!”