Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Road vs. Sidewalk

While biking in the city, I do my best to ride on the road and to obey traffic signals. However, on occasion I don't feel safe on the street and I'll hop onto the sidewalk. Today, I had to do just that.

Usually I don't have any problems with Woodward in Detroit but this morning was different. I left my apartment a little after 8am on my way to a work meeting in the Buhl building. I considered traveling down Cass but then I remembered the construction that is taking place, so I decided to travel on Woodward. It was busy! I was a bit nervous but thought I could brave it and do it.

I started strong and biked in the far right lane until I reached Park Lane, just passed Grand Circus Park, where I was bullied onto the sidewalk. (Why didn't I turn onto Park Lane? It's a one way in the wrong direction of where I needed to go.) I just didn't fit on Woodward and it was so full of speedy cars that I decided not to risk my life trying to figure out how to fit. So I put my head down and rode on the sidewalk until I reached State Street. :(

Once I was on State Street, I biked on the road to Griswold and continued biking on the road despite the mess of congestion on Griswold. I think the difference between Woodward and Griswold was the traffic was slower, so I felt more confident in braving Griswold.

Yes, I know it's *technically* safer to ride on the road than on the sidewalks - not to mention that in some instances it's illegal to ride on sidewalks.  I am admitting to you in this post that I need to do a better job of convincing my mind and body that's the case. Or maybe the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) could install bike lanes on Woodward?  Just a thought!

Anyway, my bike adventures are not always perfect. I'll keep trying to be a better biker and hopefully one of these rides I will brave riding on Woodward even when it's packed with vehicles.

 In the meantime, check out this awesome picture I took of the very full bike rack in the garage downtown. The bumper sticker reminded me that at least I did not add to the congestion on Woodward this morning with my car. :)


P.S. Starship's, "We Built this City" is playing on the radio. (And yes I'm singing along with 2 Women 4 Wheel's motto... We built this city on walk and roll!!!)

Interesting Reading:
Bicycle Safety: How to Not Get Hit by Cars
Bike Commuting 101:  Top 5 Rules for Riding on the Sidewalk


  1. some time ago I had an idea for a documentary film about how hard and unsafe it is ride around in clinton township, and how these policies at the local level really force people to use more fossil fuels. I was thinking of mounting a camera and try riding down the sidewalk along Garfield road, so the view can see how many near death experiences a cyclist has due to cars pulling in and out of drive ways of stores with clear viability. How often you are foruced to stop because cars block the sidewalk , even the "16 mile road bath path"

    The really bad thing I would want to do is show how some of these local governments receive federal and at time grant dollars for non-motorized transit (bike lanes etc...) and how the ability to ride gets worse and worse. Where does the money go? yet those of that ask these questions are branded as too controversial while, the people getting money and not producing bike lanes or in one case a 60,000 dollar grant for a hike bike path study and no study has been produced even after years of requests by citizens.

  2. Cities need to provide infrastructure for biking. Riding with traffic can work in low-speed and low-volume locations. Woodward Ave isn't one of those locations, at least not during commuting hours.

  3. I have found it harder and harder to deal with the lack of safety for bikers. The feeling that I'll be thrown off the bike like a rag doll has left me a bit scared.

  4. John R is a GREAT alternate to Woodward north of Comerica. Washington Blvd is a good option downtown - less traffic and gets you to all of the cross streets.

    I bike regularly but while driving this morning I almost hit a sidewalk biker while I was approaching an intersection. I'm a firm believer that wheels are for the road (unless I'm going the wrong way down a one-way).