Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter biking basics!

As we’ve been sharing about our partnership with Urbane, we have so enjoyed what people have suggested as future blog ideas. One was ‘why don’t you bike in the snow!?’ and we totally had to laugh. Been there, done that, and will continue to do that! People think we are absolutely insane, and maybe we are. But honestly - it’s all part of the adventure, and it’s actually really fun. And not to mention a great workout!

So now, maybe you’re curious (or just want to see if we really are that insane). What do you need to know to get you on your bike on a beautiful Michigan winter day?

Gear: To Wear

It may go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway. WARM GEAR. Like, Army/Navy surplus-style. Pea coats are beautiful and great but NO. You need padding and layers and more layers. When you’re biking, the wind can whip up pretty chilly, but you also need to remember that when you are standing at a bus stop, waiting? It’s even colder. So don’t be shy, you can always shed a layer or two (just make sure to leave a little extra room in your bag).

One of our favorite added winter biking gear items is what we affectionately call the ‘creepy face mask’. It wraps around your mouth and nose, with appropriate cut-outs for each so, yes, you can still breathe, and fastens behind your head. And think about what this looks like with cold-weather breath. Total Halloween/Jason. No one messes with 2W4W when we are face-masked up. A public safety bonus!

With all that extra padding from all those heavy winter layers (and delicious holiday treats), if you happen upon a patch of black ice? An easy bounce back!

Gear: On Your Bike

All you really need are wide tires and a good solid mountain bike. We both ride mountain bikes that we’ve had for years, and they are nothing fancy. But they are amazing, and have gotten us through many, many winters and many situations with very minimal falls (from sidewalks that are shoveled to biking through an actual mini-blizzard!). Just also make sure to give yourself a little extra time to get where you are going. Like driving, winter biking can be a bit of a slow-go!

Gear: In Your Bag

Three words: Kleenex, hand lotion and chapstick. Cold weather essentials that you are probably already used to keeping on hand, but they become even more important when it’s you + the elements.

Those one-time hand/foot warmers stashed in your bag are such a bonus. They don’t take a ton of space, and can be life-savers if you are stuck waiting at a bus stop longer than you had hoped.

Oh and a full flask. Keeping your insides warm is key, so be sure to stash some of your favorite warm-up drinks (we are partial to Jager and Hot Damn!).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The 2 Women 4 Wheels 2013 Gift Guide!

We had a great time shopping with some new bus riders at our Holidaze shopping event on Saturday! Staring at 13 & Woodward, we headed to downtown Royal Oak to visit the Royal Oak Farmer's Market where one of our bus riders was inspired to make her own granola as a gift for friends. Perfect! After checking out a few other local stores, we headed to Ferndale for an excellent lunch at Woodward Avenue Brewers. We then took a bit of a longer walk to Green Daffodil Studio which was not only full of locally-made & adorable gifts, candles, soaps and lotions, but it was their holiday open house so that meant cocktails and treats. Holiday merriment at its finest!

If you weren't able to join us on Saturday, we'd like to present the 2 Women 4 Wheels 2013 Gift Guide!

We are all about shopping local, so here's a sampling of some of our favorite gift shops and ideas.


For your favorite biker 

The Hub Detroit - not only is a great shop/repair spot, but all proceeds go to support their nonprofit mission of "working to engage, develop and inspire youth through bicycles while providing space for those youth".

Wheelhouse Detroit - maybe give a gift of one of their really fun bike tours?!

Macomb Bike & Fitness - really friendly bike shop, and be sure to check out their great events too!

Gift shops to cover everyone on your list (heading south from Royal Oak)!

Shine - candles, books, gifts, some baby clothes, books and a really great selection of fun cocktail napkins. A super nice owner!

Write Impressions - stationery, card and fun gifts
A side note: Julie literally emptied her water bottle on the floor of the store during our Holidaze event and they were super cool about it. And YES, that was pre-cocktails.

Naka - beautiful jewelry, baby gifts and Michigan-themed items

Green Daffodil Studio - vintage finds, handmade candles, soaps, lip balms and lotions. Amazing scents from lavender to cranberry orange to coconut lime to patchouli (ok, maybe that last one is more “Julie” and less “Melissa”. There’s something for everyone!)

City Bird/Nest - fantastic Michigan-made and Detroit-themed goods & housewares.

The Peacock Room - adorable new and vintage fashions/jewelry at VERY reasonable prices. Not to mention, Rachel, the owner, always has an amazing/sassy story to share!

Give the Gift of Exploring

Motor City Brew Tours - we joined Steven for one of his biking Detroit Brewery History Tours and it was a blast!

D:hive Detroit Tours - we've heard really good things about their tours!

Preservation Wayne - for the Detroit history or architectural nerd in you - GREAT tours.

Detroit Historical Society - we were able to join for a tour of Fort Wayne earlier this year and it was fantastic. Highly recommended!


Think globally, bus & bike & shop locally! 
Happy shopping :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's Giving Tuesday - Use Charity Miles When You Bike!

Yesterday was Cyber Monday and today is "Giving Tuesday" (we're not making this up). And we found a neat opportunity for you to give while biking and walking. Have you heard of Charity Miles? It is an application you can download on a smartphone to track your miles while you bike, walk, and/or run. For every mile you bike, walk, and/or run, a donation is made to a charity of your choosing. How neat is that?!

I’ve used it to track the miles I bike to the transit center, work, and downtown. I also use it to tra
ck the miles I walk and run during my free time.

It’s pretty easy to use. First, you need to download the app, which is free. Then you need to register. When you are ready to bike, walk, or run, go to the app, select the charity you want to support, and the app will track your distance with a GPS. When you bike, a donor will give $0.10 per mile that is tracked. For every mile you walk or run, a donor will give $0.25 per mile. The cool part is that you get to select the charity or charities you want the donor to support.

Charities include:
  • Feeding America,
  • She’s the First,
  • Stand Up to Cancer,
  • RED to Benefit the Global Fund,
  • ASPCA,
  • Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America,
  • The Nature Conservancy,
  • Every Mother Counts,
  • Autism Speaks,
  • Soles 4 Souls,
  • Special Olympics,
  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research,
  • Habitat for Humanity,
  • World Food Programme,
  • Wounded Warrior Project,
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,
  • Girl Up United Nations Foundation,
  • Partnership for a Healthier America,
  • Pencils of Promise,
  • Shot @ Life United Nations Foundation,
  • VisionSpring,
  • Achilles International,
  •, and
  • Ironman Foundation.

As you can see, it is a long list of charities. Hopefully, there is at least one charity you want to bike, walk, and/or run to support. To learn more about “Giving Tuesday,” go to

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bus Rapid Transit (What?)

Is bus rapid transit coming to metro-Detroit? Possibly.

We know that this system is working in Cleveland and Chicago. It might be a good form of transportation for Detroit. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) will host a series of meetings to share information about the proposed system and to gather input from us, potential users of this system. Unfortunately, this is probably the worst time of the year to gather this input but nonetheless, this is our opportunity to explain what we want and need for public transportation in metro-Detroit.

What is bus rapid transit? Some refer to it as BRT. Basically, it is a bus-based form of mass transit. What would set it apart from DDOT and SMART if it came to Detroit is that the buses often get their own lane on the road, which allows them to move faster. In some cases, there are sensors on the buses that trigger traffic lights to go green, which helps increase the efficiency of the buses even more. Also, instead of paying the fee on the bus, you pay at the bus stop to save time. It also requires less construction than rail. It sounds like it might have some promise in our region. What do you think?

Will you attend one of SEMCOG’s meetings?
Here are the meeting dates, times, and locations. If you need help finding a bus to one of the meetings, go to SMART or DDOT’s websites. (NOTE: Unfortunately, DDOT’s “trip planner” is not working so the link goes to all the bus schedules.  Also, many of the locations are not immediately near bus stop locations, so plan accordingly.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 6-8 p.m.
Beaumont Hospital Administration Building, 3711 W. 13 Mile Rd., Royal Oak, MI 48073 (Free parking in South Parking Deck; access through South Entrance, Coolidge Highway)

Thursday, December 5, 2013, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Berkley Community Center, 2400 Robina Ave., Berkley, MI 48070

Saturday, December 7, 2013, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
St. Joseph Hospital, Anthony Franco Communications Center Auditorium, 44555 Woodward Ave., Pontiac, MI 48341

Monday, December 9, 2013, 6-8 p.m.
Michigan State University Detroit Event Center, 2nd Floor, 3408 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201 (elevator access through Erskine Street entrance)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 6-8 p.m.
NextEnergy, 461 Burroughs St., Detroit, MI 48202

Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 6-8 p.m.
Coolidge Intermediate School Cafeteria, 2521 Bermuda St., Ferndale, MI 48220

If you cannot attend one of these meetings, please send your comments and suggestions to Tiffany Gunter with SEMCOG. Her email address is gunter(at)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Transforming our transit system

As a part of our exciting week in rolling out this blog with the Urbane Life, we were invited to join a

Transportation For Michigan (Trans4M) Legislative Update Dinner at Atwater Brewery downtown. We decided to make a transit adventure out of it (of COURSE) and decided on the following bus/bike plan:

1. Meet up at a bus stop where we’d have a good chance of both getting our bikes on the bike rack (11 & Woodward). Note amazing bus stop art.

2. Bike over to Atwater after work

3. Bike back to Campus Martius to get to bus stop (beautiful views of the city & bike lanes on Atwater = whoo hooo!)

4. Take DDOT home – the Woodward 53 as far as the State Fairgrounds

5. Bike home from there (7 miles from the State Fairgrounds to home in Royal Oak)

So you can see – with our current system, surgical-level precision, planning and timing is key!

We were also very curious to see what this dinner would include. And no – we don’t mean the food (but it was catered by Slow’s and HELLO mac & cheese sent from heaven).

We arrive before the program starts and have the wonderful opportunity of being greeted by some fans of 2 Women 4 Wheels – and yes, there even was a fan photo. It was great to see all these awesome advocates of transit in one place, and to be a part of this community.

Onto the program peice of the agenda. Senator Bert Johnson and Representative Gretchen Driskell gave a legislative update, RTA Board Member R. Murphey discussed what’s going on with the RTA, Woodward Avenue Action Association gave an update on the Woodward Avenue Complete Streets Master Plan, MDOT discussed their study around the future of I-375, and M-1 Rail discussed progress on their public/private streetcar project.

Sounds really good, right? At a certain point, though, something hit us. We were listening to a question about how pedestrians were going to cross Woodward when the M-1 Rail is complete. This is a great question, no doubt. But the M-1 is slated to be complete…in 2016. And it’s a 3 mile start of (hopefully) a larger streetcar system up Woodward. All of these are great improvements, and we should be focused on progress & the big picture. One area of the big picture that we didn’t see presented in this meeting was the current system. What are some of the improvements that we can make NOW to the system? If the RTA could just navigate the politics between DDOT & SMART, working out those inefficiencies, we would have thought we’d died and gone to heaven (and there’d be Slow’s mac & cheese!).

We were also very tempted to ask the question – who here is planning on taking the bus home tonight? We were, but only because we had planned to do it in a very detailed way, as we highlighted. It involved a 7 mile bike-ride home from the State Fairgrounds, not ideal for everyone – but for us – biking is awesome & great exercise & worth it. Anyone else? Some folks were from Lansing and had a longer commute and, of course, in many instances, the system just doesn’t make sense. But, are there some things we can start working on today to help it make sense?

We think so. And these are the kind of incremental changes that are often the catalysts for bigger change.

Current bus route efficiencies.

SMART & DDOT become friends – or better yet – merge (that’s very specifically a ‘merge’ not an acquisition on either side. That wouldn’t be very friendly, right?!)

Round-the-clock service from DDOT/SMART (no more “peak”/”off-peak” hours).

Safety enhancements at the bus terminals – specifically the State Fairgrounds.

Regional transit pass.

These are the kinds of changes that would allow more people that were at that Trans4M meeting to ride the bus home with ease. More riders, more demand, ever BETTER service.

And then let’s start talking about how people will cross Woodward in 2016.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bike Helmets - Do you really need to wear them?

I’ll be honest - wearing a bike helmet is not the most exciting accessory to wear; however it’s probably the most important one. While it may be annoying, it saves lives, right?! Seriously, it really does. And although I’ve never been in a serious bike accident, I wear my helmet every time I ride, even if it’s a really short ride.

I recently learned that I should replace my helmet every three years even if I wasn’t involved in any bike accidents. Did you know that? I had no idea. Naturally, this led me to visit Macomb Bike & Fitness for some bike helmet shopping (especially since I had a gift certificate).

Jim, who works at the bike shop, helped me select my new helmet and offered some advice: 1) It’s important to have a helmet that fits your head. 2) Make sure the color of the helmet is a lighter or brighter color so people will see you when you’re riding.

I also learned from Jim the proper way to wear a helmet. The straps should be joined just under each ear at the jawbone and the buckle or clasp should fit snugly under your chin. The helmet should fit flat on your head about two-fingers width above your eyebrows. If that’s hard to understand, check out this video made by the City of Chicago for a quick demonstration. You can also check out the dorky pictures of me trying to demonstrate this below.

Incorrect Bike Helmet!
Correct Bike Helmet!

In addition to having a bike helmet, I also learned that practicing safe-riding skills is just as important as riding with a helmet. Check out this pretty comprehensive guide by the League of Michigan Bicyclists, “What Every Michigan Bicyclist Must Know.” Basically, be alert and follow the rules of the road! 

Lastly, I know I mentioned earlier that the bike helmet is not my favorite accessory; however check out this new invisible helmet that was invented. It looks promising (when the price decreases).

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Crash Course in Metro-Detroit Transit

How do you use and support public transportation to move around metro-Detroit? Well, grab a snack and get comfy while you read this "crash course" on transit in the region.

As you know, we live in the Royal Oak area and work in Detroit, so it is convenient for us to bike to Woodward or the Royal Oak Transit Center to hop on any of the SMART Woodward buses to head south at $2 per ride. The 450 and 460 have multiple stops and bike racks. As do the 445 and the 475, which are “Limited” buses - that means less stops and quicker travel time. SMART services Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties.

Julie gets on the bus!
Unfortunately, a big challenge with SMART buses is that they ONLY travel in and out of Detroit during “peak” hours. What are peak hours? In the morning from 6 to 9am and in the evening from 3 to 6pm. As you can imagine, this greatly complicates happy hour for us. What happens if you need to get to Detroit during an off-peak time? You can take SMART south to the last stop on Woodward, which is at the State Fairgrounds. From there, you can pick up a DDOT bus and head south. Vice versa for heading north during an off peak time. (Special note - the buses are not linked very well so expect a 30 minute wait at the Fairgrounds. Check out a previous post where we we learned about this first hand.)

The Detroit Department of Transportation services buses that run only in the city at the cost of $1.50 per ride for adults (slightly cheaper than SMART). We usually take the 53 bus up and down Woodward. It has bike racks (important note - not all buses have racks for bikes - boo!).

DDOT does have a unique “Text My Bus” campaign. That’s right - all you have to do is text 50464 the cross streets and you receive a fairly quick text back with times that the bus will arrive. Unfortunately, as we have learned by experience, the buses don’t have any tracking mechanism to provide accurate information of when it will actually arrive at the stop. Missed opportunity, right?! So for now, you get a text with the time that bus is *supposed* to arrive according to the bus schedule, which often is not the case.

People Mover
We don’t really use the People Mover but wanted to make sure to include it, as it is indeed referred to as public transit in the Motor City. Its three mile track circles downtown for just $0.75 per ride. For fun, check out this video as “Zelda and the Unibrows” test whether it’s faster to walk or take the People Mover. While it’s not the most appealing form of transit, it is helpful - especially during the cold winter months when you’re traveling downtown and just want to stay warm (however, moving the body and walking usually keeps you warm, too).

M-1 Rail
Another three miles of tracks are being built along Woodward Avenue to create a new form of transit, the M-1 Rail. What sets this rail project apart from the People Mover is that it’s linear and on the street with other traffic. The hope is that it will be the start of something bigger that hopefully in the future extends all the way north to Pontiac. Unfortunately, there are a number of concerns regarding this project including connectivity, bike accessibility on Woodward, and placement of the tracks on the sides rather than the middle (check out this video that explains why it might be better to have rail in the middle lane).

Why can't all the public transit options work together? Well, about a year ago, the Michigan State Legislature created the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA). One of the focal points is to facilitate that communication. However, it's been almost a year and we're not quite sure what is happening. We had it in our schedule to attend their board meeting earlier this week, but it was cancelled. We did recently learn that there is discussion of one single transit pass that could be used universally with SMART, DDOT, People Mover, and M-1. It's a start but we expect more as this region desperately needs a public transportation system that works!!!. (Stay tuned for future updates as Julie is on the RTA Citizen Advisory Council.)

Okay... this concludes your crash course on public transit in metro-Detroit. Are you still awake?! Keep a look out for future 2 Women 4 Wheels events inviting you to ride the bus with us! In the meantime, join us for our launch party with Urbane Media on Thursday, November 21 from 6 to 8pm.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Attention 2 Women 4 Wheels Fans! We've got some exciting news!!!

Put the kickstand down. Grab your seat on the bus. 2 Women 4 Wheels has exciting news to share! After almost three years of “walking and rolling” in the metro-Detroit area, we are happy to partner with Urbane Media to share our “real world” adventures in biking and busing. What does it mean? With the additional support, we will be able to share more adventures in a pretty regular way by providing new blog posts every few days instead of every few weeks. It doesn’t stop there, either. You will also see more cross-postings from our blog and Urbane Media’s blog PLUS there’s going to be a pretty kick ass launch party on Thursday, November 21 (stay tuned for more details). Keep your eyes open for #transitkardashians, as it might become a new and appropriate hash tag. HAHA!

On a more serious note, we've never been more excited to write about transit than now. As you know, this is a critical time for our region as the “Regional Transit Authority (RTA)” begins to take shape. Unfortunately, you also know the evolution of public not one of the Motor City’s finest moments. Keeping our eyes and ears wide open will be important if this is to be the time in our region’s history that we see change. Fortunately, 2 Women 4 Wheels has representation on the RTA’s Citizen Advisory Council (shout out to Julie!). In the next few months, we will do our best to keep you informed on what’s happening and what you can do to support this effort.

We also hope to inspire you to take a transit adventure of your own! While it’s important to have an RTA, we also need to see improvements to the service. However, we won’t see improvements until demand for public transit increases. That means we need you to ride the bus. And before you tell yourself it’s too hard, check out some of our previous blog posts. Taking the bus and riding your bike can be fun! In fact, one of the reasons we started riding the bus was to enjoy our happy hours together without the worry of driving (some of those drink specials are too good to pass up!). Stay tuned for some 2 Women 4 Wheels organized bus pub crawls, scavenger hunts, and much more!  We’re going to do our best to show how much fun you can have!   

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Adventures with the Sunday SMART bus schedule

As a part of the Royal Oak Jaycees, I had the opportunity to run a project that we termed the "SMART Bus Pub Crawl" just this past Sunday. Awesome, right!? A huge shout-out to Beth & Fred at SMART for supplying us with service maps, some really cool new SMART bike maps, SMART pens & digital screen cleaners. So great!

Here's our group reading their maps like champs outside Woodward Avenue Brewers (aka the WAB) in Ferndale:

We started our trip on the southbound Woodward 460 leaving at 13 & Woodward at 1:05pm heading to downtown Ferndale. A fellow bus rider was at the stop, enjoying some Sunday funday Natty Light, and calling me 'cowgirl'. Perfection. And welcome to the our transit world, pals! 

On our trip to downtown Royal Oak from the WAB to Blackfinn, Google Maps transit told me that the Woodward 450 would take us through downtown Royal Oak. I know that's the case after a certain time during the weekday evenings, so I didn't even question it. As the bus driver didn't take the turn down Washington and continued down Woodward, it was very clear that this wasn't the case for Sunday afternoons. I went to ask the bus driver what the deal was and he laughed loudly & heartily. "I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing at Google Maps. I get these questions EVERY single Sunday" and proceeded in showing me the schedule. So, we had an unscheduled 10 minute walk into downtown Royal Oak from 11 mile & Woodward. Transit lessons on a beautiful fall day. Otherwise, the buses ran pretty much on schedule, a great time was had by all, and people were hopefully encouraged to explore our region via public transit! 

But the question at hand: what's the answer for better transit communication in the age of smartphones? Apps? A required check-in of any schedule changes with Google Maps? Schedules via text? Pocket-sized paper schedules based on the routes? We definitely need some improvements to this area - especially given the  widespread miscommunication around the weekend schedules.  Thoughts or other ideas that have worked well in other areas?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Where Do You Purchase A Bus Pass?

It's difficult to get a bus pass. I've come to this conclusion after almost a year of not having a bus pass and instead using many dollar bills and quarters to pay for my metro Detroit transit travels.  

Let me explain.  It started at the Rosa Parks Transit Center located in a very prominent facility in downtown Detroit.  I had used up my bus pass earlier this year and on my way to the SMART bus stop I decided to stop at the transit center to get a new SMART bus pass.  Unfortunately, they didn't sell SMART bus passes because only DDOT buses use that stop. (I still think that since it's the most prominent location for transit in the city, they should sell SMART bus passes, too.)  Strike one.

Then, after a few weeks of using dollar bills to pay for my bus rides, I took the afternoon off to run errands.  Naturally, my first stop was the Royal Oak Transit Center.  Unfortunately, the attendant was on lunch break, which meant no bus pass for me.  Strike two.  (Let me point out that in other cities, they have a machine that is available at all times of the day for people to purchase transit passes.  AHHH!!!  Does metro Detroit have one of these machines?)

Finally, yesterday, I scored a bus pass with ten minutes to spare.  Where?  At the SMART Transit Center in the Buhl Building in downtown Detroit.  Ten minutes to spare you ask?  Well, they close at 5pm.  It's hard to read the sign in the picture to the right but they are only open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30am to 5pm.  When are people that work during the day supposed to purchase a bus pass?  This leads me to my original conclusion - it's difficult to get a bus pass!

What makes it even more difficult?  In all of Oakland County, there are only 8 locations, where one can purchase a bus pass; 2 in Macomb County and 10 in Wayne County!  Check it out for yourself.  Oh, and it gets better...  there are 23 cities that are serviced by SMART in Oakland County, which makes me think there would be more than 8 locations to get bus passes.  There are 26 cities serviced by SMART in Macomb County and another 26 cities in Wayne County.  With 75 cities being serviced by SMART, one would think that there would be at least 75 locations to get a bus pass.  Nope... just 20 in all of metro Detroit.  Does anyone else see this as a problem?  (SMART - Please consider contacting post offices, public libraries, and grocery stores to sell bus passes.)

What about the internet you ask?  Well...yes, you can order a bus pass from SMART's website but you have to pay $2 to have it mailed to you.  That's the cost of a bus ride!

So it's back to dollar bills and quarters... yes, you can use them but from my year of using dollar bills that had just enough of a curled edge that the meter didn't like, I choose a bus pass (when I can leave work early enough to purchase one).  See happy me with a bus pass to the left.  Thanks, Julie, for taking these great photos!

This is Melissa, your investigative reporter with 2 Women, 4 Wheels spinning off!  Happy riding and bus pass searching!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Today, it was ALL about the people.

It's amazing how you can go for about 1 million bus rides and nothing happens and then today.
I was on the 4:45pm SMART 460 heading to Royal Oak from downtown. The 4:30pm SMART 450 apparently had not shown up before the 460 so there were a lot of people at all the stops.

The people on this bus:

1. The women next to me who continued to text someone labeled in her phone as 'Baby Daddy' and took a call from someone that she simply said "lose my number, b****" to before hanging up. BOOM.

2. The biker puts his bike on the bike rack with the light flashing (BEEN THERE) and got on the bus with a very very large Big Gulp-like bottle hanging around his neck? The physics of this was amazing. No spills! I can barely carry a Nalgene with a solid lid on it without dumping water all over my bag. An inspiration.

3. A guy that just graduated from Everett with his degree in Medical Assisting. Like on the bus in a cap & gown = yay! This attracted Big Gulp biker man to get up from his seat to extend his congrats and the following line of questioning/information (in pretty much this order):
a. "Where are you gonna work?"
b. "I have a lady doctor and I really like her. I bet lady doctors are really good to work for."
c. "My brother died in a drunk driving accident. It was sad but I think he was happy. You see, he was the drunk driver and he loved to drink."
d. "Have you ever been to New York City? I loved it there. Lived there for years."

4. A woman that was VERY upset she couldn't get off the bus until Highland Park.The bus dropped her off about 25 blocks north (this was explained by a fellow bus rider that apparently knows Woodward literally by the block - he rattled off that stat in seconds - amazing) of her work and she was going to be late. It was so frustrating to see our limited public transit system work against someone that had a clear obligation - and, more basically, a hard time walking. Does anyone out there know why SMART doesn't drop off between downtown and Highland Park going north (and vice versa going south)? This is something I've just learned from riding these routes but haven't ever seen this officially anywhere.

5. A man that had a very difficult time moving (as well as a large rolling suitcase) got on the bus and about 3 different fellow bus riders rushed to his aid/moved so he could sit/have space. The bus community <3

6. When I finally made it to Royal Oak, I was at the bike rack unlocking my bike. There's a guy that rides around Royal Oak in a large shiny blue adult tricycle with a large basket on the back - I've always thought that bike was super sweet. He was right by the bike rack where my bike was parked and he says "you know, I see you all biking all over with these huge bags and I get worried about your back. Do you know you can get saddle bags and baskets that you can use to carry your stuff while biking?". The biking community. <3

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Inner peace via public transit?

Even though we haven't been the best blog-posters, you must know that we have still been dedicated bus/biking on a very, very regular basis. The summer breeze rustling through our biking skirts/appropriate biking shorts (we are LADIES, thank you very much) has been amazing. The days that we had to drive (boo), traffic wasn't terrible.


Traffic mania. Lane closures. Cops actually patrolling downtown and pulling people over for going over the posted 55. 55!? I've been driving I-75 downtown for 10+ years and who knew? And then it started happening again. ROAD RAGE. 

Don't these people have any place to go? Why are we stopped? Where did all these people come from? Why are we in gridlock? WHY is it taking me one hour to go 13 miles??! And now I'm late for work. ARGH. Rush rush rush. 

And then: a bus day. Zen. Even when the bus is a little late or packed with people, I can just watch the world go by. Get lost in my thoughts. Oh hey - why is the bus driver stopping? Oh there's a lane closure? Oh ok. Back to browsing Twitter. Reading. Listening to music. Waving at the guy at the corner of Woodward and the Davidson with the sign that says 'you are special!' (I'm blanking on the exact words but it's similar - if anyone knows who I'm talking about, please feel free to share), all while he points and waves and smiles at drivers going by.  Is this a yoga class!? And now I'm 5 minutes early for work - time to grab a chai on the way in. Ahhhhhh. Starting the workday calm & happy. Thankful that the bus drivers will do the tough driving work. 

I know people get their stressors from different areas of life (and I'm maybe more road rage-y than the average commuter) but how would our work/school days be different if we, in SE Michigan, could commute using reliable public transit? Or will commuting, in no matter what form, always be stressful? Does the idea of using public transit bring out your inner Buddha...or badass?

#morelove #detroit #transit

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Things that make you go hmmmm: Proposed road widenings in Detroit?

In the words of another classic from the late 80s: "I take two steps forward, I take two steps back" ("Opposites Attract" sung duet-style - Paula Abdul & a cartoon cat. How weird was that video, btw?)

We made serious progress last year in passing the RTA. Awesome. That's two HUGE steps forward.

And now, as SEMCOG is proposing $2.7B (yes, that's a B) to expand our roads and highways over the next 15 years. Two steps BACK, perhaps?

I am sure there are some legitimate road projects in this plan - especially those around fixing our already crumbling roads. And as someone that finds traffic to be the most consistent and yet I'm-totally-at-it's-mercy frustration in my life, one would think that I would support wider roads. However, studies have shown that if more roads are built, more cars will fill the roads. Simply stated, 'roads cause traffic'. The study also says that 'transit expansion' doesn't help congestion or travel times either, which I thought was interesting and worth noting. Ok, I can actually see that. It takes me longer to bus/bike than it does to drive/park, but oh lord, my sanity. There is NO price that I can put on my sanity, the health boost I get from riding my bike or the joy obtained by the amazing people/stories we come across (oh yeah - or this blog wouldn't exist. TRAVESTY.). Transit wins! 

Here's a great blog post and explanation to the study: 

SO. Back to Michigan. 
Ugh, wider roads again? What can I do about this?

Luckily, our friends at Transportation Riders United have put together some actions this week: 

Come to the SEMCOG Meeting this week Thursday and speak up during public comment before they vote on the new plan (2W4W is working to shift some schedule conflicts to make it): 

If you aren't able to make it on Thursday, please speak out online: 

Together, we can work to make sure we continue to take two steps forward as a region! We should not accept our fate as described by Paula Abdul and that cartoon cat dancing up and down some stairs. Seriously, whose idea was that video?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Things that make you go hmmm: SMART bus pickups in Detroit

This is one of a series of posts that we're working on that only the classic Milli Vanilli song can describe. Going forward, these posts will be referred to as "TTMYGHmmm", which maybe isn't that much shorter but very fun to write.

Back when SMART had their big schedule adjustment that only brought the bus into Detroit weekdays from 6-9am and 3-6pm (It seems like so long ago we enjoyed happy hour and bussing at all times so frivolously!), we noticed another adjustment. I can't totally say for sure it happened at the same time or if it was just when we happened to notice it.

In Detroit, south of Highland Park, when the bus is traveling southbound, it only drops off and doesn't pick up passengers until we reach the northern Midtown area. And the opposite happens going northbound (pick ups only, not drop offs). It also doesn't seem to be communicated clearly anywhere, because almost every time that I'm on the bus, we drive by someone trying to flag it down - and many times at a labeled stop. One time I actually yelled out (bus rider solidarity, yo) - "there was someone at that stop!" and the driver just said "drop-offs only".

I understand that DDOT services this area but why is only this somewhat specific area of Detroit not serviced by SMART? People going both directions have a reason to go in and out of the city, right? This is not a limited route either. Maybe funding-based?! Talk about the ultimate TTMYGHmmm!

I just can't get my head around any sort of logic behind this scheduling. As an accountant and property taxpayer (aka SMART funder) - show me the logic!

Anyone have any thoughts or experience with this?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bus, Bike, Blog Post!!!

Say that ten times fast!!!! Now do it after you've had three or four drinks (Julie = 5, Melissa = 0. Not drinks, times we could repeat the bus/bike tongue twister after said drinks).

Welcome to the first real time blog post (coming from Lily's Seafood in Royal Oak).

We're enjoying this beautiful sunny evening of Pure Michigan weather and the fact that Melissa literally ignored actual Ryan Gosling in the streets of Detroit today in order to make the bus. Just a day in the life of 2 Women and their 4 Wheels, really.

This is us on the bus passing where Gosling was sited. See ya! Vodka and gin, we are coming for you.

We know we need to write more and more is coming, we promise!

Cheers, fans of 2W4W!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sub-zero green commuting

While we've been writing this blog since December of 2010, we've been pretty lucky as far as the winters go. By "lucky", I mean global warming has worked in our personal bus/biking favor (and really, that's the only positive), and we haven't had to navigate the snow much.

It was always fun to answer the question 'but, do you ladies REALLY bus/bike in the winter?'. We were always able to smugly say 'oh yes! of course' without having ever really living it.

Until the winter of 2012/2013.
Hello, sub-zero green communting!

And hello:

-Frigid winds
-Wind chills of below zero
-Black ice patches like nobody's business
-A newfound understanding of what municipalities are good about snow/ice removal and who needs, ahem, some work
-Teary bike rides (see also: "Frigid winds")
-A newfound love of my creepy face mask
-A newfound love of my heavy mountain bike and just how well it handles in the snow/ice
-Seeing just how quickly my bike tires get jammed up with snow
-Seeing just how quickly my behind gets covered with dirty snowmelt as I bike (next project: fenders!)


I had a thought that maybe I'd have to take a break from biking this winter and try to just bus commute on the really snowy days. I would have to navigate a SMART bus transfer from my house, but always up for a good metro Detroit transit challenge, I gave it a shot.

The bus stop was about a 10 minute walk from my house, not bad. I then waited for the SMART 430 bus for TWENTY minutes (see also: "Frigid winds"), took the short ride to the Royal Oak Transit Center, and waited another 10 minutes for the Woodward 460. My total commute time, including walking from my house = 1 hour, 35 minutes. And I don't think I thawed out until lunchtime. This bus connection is good to know, but don't think this is going to be my sub-zero green communting answer. My normal commute time when I bike? 1 hour, 10 mins.

And what I realized: the underappreciated warmth that walking & biking provide as a part of this whole green commuting experience. It also takes me about a 1/2 mile of walking or biking to really warm up. That cold start is kinda brutal, but once you get rolling? Not so bad. And it's so much better than just standing in the elements. Oh and of course. Happy hour/vodka helps too. #nosurprisethere

So, please feel free to share your winter green communting stories here! What works/doesn't? How do you stay safe & warm during your bus/bike commutes?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bike Summit: Information Station

Happy Monday, 2W4W fans!

I had the opportunity to attend the Bike Summit back in December at the Royal Oak Public Library.

A big shout-out to Tom Regan, our fearless Oakland County bike organizer, because this event was fantastic!

Standing room only.

Representatives from various local groups, companies, the county and SE MI cities sharing tons of great info.

People really rallying around this whole nonmotorized city thing = whoo hoo!

So, this is an information-sharing post highlighting ways you can kick off 2013 by supporting non-motorized transport in SE Michigan.

From Todd Scott, Detroit Greenways coordinator: 

Great news about biking in Detroit! 

Fun fact: 45 miles of bike lanes in the city as of year-end 2012, 70-80 miles total slated for 2013. NICE.

Bike share feasibility study at WSU:

Birmingham multi-modal public hearing, Thursday January 17th 8:00 pm, Baldwin library

If you live in, bike through, or walk through Birmingham you will want to attend this hearing.  A large, enthusiastic crowd at this hearing will boost efforts by city staff to build a walkable, bikeable Birmingham:

Gran Fondo (Woodward bike event to be held this summer) - to be discussed at the Royal Oak City Commission Monday January 28th 7:30pm Royal Oak City Hall.

Birmingham's city commission endorsed the Gran Fondo.  Heather Carmona of the Woodward Avenue Action Association plans on speaking to the Royal Oak city commission again on Monday, January 28th.  Royal Oak has not yet decided if they will endorse this important community biking event.  Please join us at the city commission meeting at speak up during public comment to urge the city to endorse this great community biking event.

This event is causing some debate locally, here's some more background:

Achille Bianche of Modeshift was one of the speakers at the summit, he wrote an article on it at the Modeshift website:

Work at Beaumont?
If you work at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital and are interested in joining their bike-to-work campaign contact Matt Faraday at

Facebook group
If you live in, bike through, or walk through Royal Oak, definitely check out the non-motorized Facebook group to stay informed on great events like this:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bike Gadgets & Directions

Happy New Year!!!  In preparation for my first bike/bus commute of the year with Julie, I decided to install some bike gadgets I received for Christmas from one of my family members.

Despite feeling kind of badass riding around Detroit and the metropolitan area with my headlamp to light my adventures, I decided to install my first bike gadget, a new bike headlight.  It was pretty simple.  I started by taking the old one off with a phillips screwdriver.  An aside - I finally found where the spiders that created webs last year on my bike hung out - in the cracks of my old headlight!  Back to the story - after I took the old gadget off, I installed the new one without any tools.  It was a piece of cake and I felt super kick ass that I installed it in just minutes while also preventing future spiders from spinning their webs all over my bike in 2013.

Feeling pretty confident, I decided to install my other new exciting gadget.  It's one of those neat bike computers that calculates your distance, speed, time, and who knows what.  Well, it was neat until I went to use it.  Do you see the directions in the picture?  Unfortunately, they are not well written and I was lost within minutes.  Actually, the only thing that seemed to work was that the computer now kept time, which meant it was keeping track of how long it took me to figure out the directions.  AHHH!!!  The pressure!  After an hour and twenty-one minutes, I gave up and decided to write this blog.  The good news is that I didn't completely give up.  The better news is that I went to the manufacturer's website and found a very easy video to follow that has directions on how to install this gadget (thank goodness)!  In this day and age, they should have just saved the paper and wrote that on the box.  Hopefully, I can wake up early enough to install it in the morning before the big bike/bus commute of 2013!

Lastly - just out of curiosity - if you have a bike computer, how many miles do you put on your bike a year?  I'm not talking about the miles from biking on a trail for fun - I'm talking about commuting.  I ask because I want to set a goal for 2013.

Cheers to new bike gadgets, more bike/bus adventures in 2013, and a regional transit authority (that hopefully works)!