Archive for January, 2014

Cycle-friendly Michigan – A work in progress

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

When your local FedEx or Postal carrier arrives at your door with a sanguine smile, leaping on the last step in the dance of your order from Tree Fort Bikes, you may have noticed that your package shipped from a city called Ypsilanti, just off of Interstate 94 in the Motor City state’s densest corner, thronged within a thick suburban cluster huddling around Detroit.

Hearing it that way, you may have to wonder: That’s where you picked to open a bike shop?

Sure – while we’ve been long fortunate with local trail systems, much to local mountain riders’ delight, you might say that our daily road riding can be something of a challenge. We live inside of auto-centricity, and like most metro areas across the States, highways have long cut deep, criss-crossing gorges under, over, and between so many of our neighborhoods, where exit ramps lead to thoroughfares of too-often broken asphalt, putting up best efforts to service the traffic that uses it most. It’s a jungle; many of us know all too much about it; and we keep on riding, still.

But in recent years, and even in recent weeks, Michigan cyclists are surprised to see new challenges to auto-priority, as even the Motor City starts to concede: There’s more to getting around than the motor. Planners and powers seem to be awakening to changing economic realities – upward-inching fuel costs, chronic unemployment, more-limited personal spending – as well as the increasing pressures of interstate economic competition, where the battle to recruit and maintain workforce talent means investing in urban development, growing the kinds of walkable, neighborhood-focused, green-planted cities that so many young workers want to see around them. Plenty of us are looking for alternatives to life and leisure driven by car, and from tourism boards to government leadership to private entrepreneurs, Michigan’s not only noticing those changing interests, but taking some meaningful action to help them thrive.