By Kelli Kavanaugh of Wheelhouse Detroit
Riding bikes in Detroit is pretty great. We have more and more bike infrastructure coming on-line but, even without that, you’ve got a relatively flat city with infrastructure built for three times its current population meaning: lots and lots of room on most roads.
There’s a reason there’s a common saying, “it’s like riding a bike,” because it’s so easy. You don’t need a ton of specialized equipment. If you can’t afford a new bike, check out used bikes at your local shop or Craigslist. Sorry, I cannot condone buying a bike from a big box store under any circumstance. They are poorly made and horribly “assembled.”
Make sure you have a helmet, lock, reflectors, lights (front and rear), a spare tube, patch kit, and air pump. Before you ride, be sure to check your tire pressure. Under-inflated tires make your ride more difficult and are a leading cause of flats.
While you ride stay alert! Bikes ride with, not against traffic (say no to salmon-ing!) If there is a bike lane, utilize it. If not, stay to the right of the road without hugging the curb; that makes you more visible to drivers and helps you avoid the debris that tends to accumulate there. By law, bicyclists are entitled to a full lane. Don’t ride on the sidewalk. It’s technically illegal. It’s not cool to pedestrians and wheelchair users, and it makes it really hard for drivers pulling out of a driveway to see you.
Turning left can be tricky. You are legally entitled to utilize the left-hand turn lane. That makes some people uncomfortable, so I recommend a “box turn” as an alternative. Basically, you cross the intersection twice with traffic. It takes an extra minute, but it is safer.
Finally, I always recommend making friendly eye contact with drivers when you are stopped next to them at a light. Sometimes I think we both forget the other is also a human. Most cyclists drive sometimes and most drivers ride bikes at least occasionally. We don’t have to hate each other.
When you reach your destination, lock your frame to a rack or something that is welded, not bolted, to the ground or a fence or a building. If you have quick-release wheels, you will want to lock those as well. U-Locks are tougher to cut than cable locks; many are sold with an extra cable for just this purpose.
Bike Resources in Detroit
The Hub : Cass Corridor : Used bikes, accessory sales, and repair service
Bike Tech : East English Village : New and used bikes, accessory sales, and repair service
Metropolis Cycles : Corktown : New bikes, accessory sales, and repair service
Wheelhouse : Rivertown + Hamtramck : New and used bikes, accessory sales, repair service, rentals, and tours
Mogo : Bike share
Detroit Greenways Coalition : Advocacy
Detroit Rides : City of Detroit Safety and Education campaign